Oakland Raiders (0-6 SU, 3-3 ATS) vs. Cleveland Browns (3-3 SU, 3-1-2 ATS)
NFL Week 8
Date and Time: Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 4:25PM EST
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OAK +7/CLE -7
Over/Under Total: 43.5
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On Sunday, the Oakland Raiders make the trip east to face the Cleveland Browns. The Raiders continue to search for their first win at 0-6. After yielding Jacksonvilles first win on Sunday, Cleveland is eager to not give up the first win to the leagues only winless teams in consecutive weeks.
The Cleveland loss on Sunday to Jacksonville was troubling and further affirms that the Browns are far from being a bankable entity at this point. But there have been some gains made this season, as the long-maligned Browns are at .500 at 3-3. But after scoring a road win at Tennessee and following it up with a surprising three-touchdown win over Pittsburgh, consecutive losses to 0-6 teams would be represent s major step back.
Oakland is 0-6 and the bottom line speaks loudest. But as Cleveland showed last week, they cant afford to underestimate anyone. First of all, Cleveland isnt in a position to underestimate any team, regardless of how bad they are. Teams like Jacksonville and Oakland may not be very good, but are hungry to win. And Oakland has at least been trying, nearly beating San Diego, before a late touchdown led to a 3-point loss. And they were playing Arizona pretty tough on Sunday, before the offense faded in the second half, scoring a measly field goal en route to an 11-point loss.
Since Tony Sparano took over at head coach for ousted Dennis Allen, the Raiders have shown at least slightly more fire. Derek Carr has been getting better, but will naturally experience the ups-and-downs that are normal with a rookie. RB Darren McFadden is showing some minor signs of life. And the passing game is seeing some decent production from James Jones and Andre Holmes. Its a start. Oakland is still last in the run so far this season and second-to-last with an anemic 15.3 points per game.
Oakland is also struggling massively on defense, seemingly unable to stop the run. And Cleveland has actually been running the ball pretty well, with Ben Tate, Isaiah Crowell, and Terrance West combining for 8 touchdowns. QB Brian Hoyer is tailing off in the accuracy department in recent games, but isnt doing an altogether bad job with this offense. And he has shown a flair for the dramatic on occasion this season. He only has 2 picks, meaning at least that he doesnt blow it often and make things easier for the opponent.
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On the heels of a 21-point win and an 18-point loss, the Browns broke their pattern of having close games. Their first 4 games were decided by a combined 8 points. There could be more of that this week, where the Cleveland defense keeps them in the game, while the run-game plugs away, with Hoyer sprinkling in a few big plays here and there. It sure didnt work on Sunday, as Hoyer was 16-for-41, with the run-game stymied for most of the afternoon, with 69 yards on 30 carries. Anything resembling that will likely lead to the Raiders getting their first victory of the season.
While the Raiders havent been having much success running the ball, they just might be able to on Sunday, with the Browns being the last-ranked team against the run in the NFL. Oaklands Derek Carr has thrown 5 picks, but didnt throw one last week for the first time since week one and hasnt coughed up a fumble yet this season–pretty good for a rookie QB who has been under fire.
The Browns last game was troubling. They didnt just lose, but they were smoked by a winless team and their offense fizzled out completely. But look for a better effort from this Browns team, especially at home. At home, theyre 2-1, with only a 2-point loss to Baltimore spoiling a perfect home mark. If the Raiders are going to notch their first win of the season, they will have to do so in hostile territory against a team that thrives on home cooking.
The Raiders are getting desperate and that just might pave the way for a big effort. The problem is that this is not a team that travels exceedingly well. And they cant run the ball, which would come in handy against a Browns team that is ghastly in that department. And against a team like Cleveland, theyre going to need to get some timely stops on third down–something they havent been able to do this season. And it doesnt help that they will be without Justin Tuck and Usama Young on defense.
This has some of the earmarks of a potential bounce-back win for the Browns. If Moyer continues to struggle, this could be the game where we see extended doses of Johnny Manziel. Whoever is at quarterback, the Browns should be able to re-establish some offensive rhythm this week, especially with the ground-game. But I look for a gritty Oakland effort to keep them in the game against a Cleveland team that still has a long way to go. I like Oakland.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Oakland Raiders plus 7 points.