By: Sam Gagliardi
Bring on Baker Mania! The Cleveland Brown's rookie is officially starting his first game of his — hopefully — long and illustrious career. The Browns will travel across the country to take on a desperate Oakland Raiders team with a 4pm ETZ start time, here is what to expect.
The Raiders open as 2.5 favorites, however, the home team is usually awarded 3 points so you could classify the Raiders as slight dogs, but more realistically this game is a toss-up.
THE RAIDERS: As mentioned before, they are desperate. The John Gruden area has not started as planned, and if this team wants any shot to make the playoffs out of a very difficult division, this game is a must win. They are playing at home, and the Colosseum is still functioning as a baseball field because the A’s are going to the playoffs, so the Raiders will have, literal, home field advantage playing on the grass-dirt field. They'll also catch a Browns team possible a bit too high on their horse after beating a bad Jets team and having to travel across the country for the first time this year and the first in many of the young players careers. On paper, the Raiders also have a better QB but more on that in a minute.
THE BROWNS: They are the better team. Their defense is legit, and for a Raiders team that has not scored more then 20 points all season, this matchup heavily favors the Browns. Conversely, The Raiders defense is not good. They are one of the worst teams at pressuring the QB…. looks around for Pro-bowler and future Hall-of-Famer Khalil Mack…. Ya they traded him, just making sure everyone was aware. Because the Raiders won't put much pressure on Mayfield, I expect him to a have a good game, and get better as the game goes on.
THE MATCHUP: The Raiders will get out to an early lead considering they are the more desperate team, they play better in the first half of games, and it may take the Browns young players a quarter or two to adjust to the field conditions, especially if the weather does not cooperate. Come the second half, the better team will start to show and that will be the Browns. The Raiders have blow 3 straight second half game, in which they had a chance to win and that streak will continue. Mayfield will string together a few drives in the second half and lead his second comeback win in as many weeks. The Browns defense will continue to force turnovers, and one or two will be crucial to help bury the Raiders late in the fourth quarter.
WILD CARD: IF this game comes down to a made or missed field goal, watch for the Browns new kicker Greg Joseph and the Raiders new kicker Matt McCrane. How well will they both respond to kicking on the dirt for the first time or this being the second NFL start for Joseph and NFL debut for McCrane. Luckily for the Browns it shouldn't matter...
PREDICTION: Browns 24 - Raiders 13; Mayfield will throw for his first 300-yard NFL game, throw his first NFL interception, but pass for his first NFL TD. Carr has a solid game with a TD and 200+ yards, but 2 costly picks.
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