TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 13: Cleveland Browns At Oakland Raiders

Browns
Raiders
Cornerback Joe Haden of the Cleveland Browns celebrates after an interception with Tashaun Gipson against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Stadium on November 25, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. / (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer / (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Cornerback Joe Haden of the Cleveland Browns celebrates after an interception with Tashaun Gipson against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Stadium on November 25, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. / (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer / (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Quarterback
Brandon Weeden suffered a concussion at the end of the Week 12 game against Pittsburgh. He will have to be cleared by medical personnel if he is going to be able to travel and play against the Raiders. Weeden has been very competitive even though he has not had a strong supporting cast. If he can’t play, backup Colt McCoy will take his place.
Winner Carson Palmer was primed for a big game against his former team, but the Raiders were never a factor against the Bengals. Palmer should feel much more comfortable playing at home this week. He has a strong arm, a quick release and he can be quite accurate. Palmer needs to get off to a quick start so he can shake off his team’s losing ways.
Offense
Winner Running back Trent Richardson is going to be a star in the NFL. Opponents of the Browns have to try to stop him first because of his explosiveness, agility and surprising power. Josh Gordon is a lanky yet powerful receiver who can break big plays. He is averaging 18.9 yards per catch. Tight end Benjamin Watson can make key catches on third-down plays.
Winner The Raiders could get a lift this week with the return of running back Darren McFadden, who has been out with a high ankle sprain. Early reports had him scheduled to return to practice. The Raiders want to unleash wide receivers Darius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore on the Cleveland secondary. He has caught 36 passes and is averaging 16.6 yards per reception.
Defense
Winner The Browns make a lot of mistakes on defense, but it’s not from lack of effort. They are fairly solid against the run and they are a very hard-hitting unit. Middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson is one of the team’s best tacklers and he can go sideline-to-sideline to make plays. He leads the team with 84 stops. Cornerback Buster Skrine makes some mistakes in coverage, but he has 70 tackles and nine passes defensed.
The Raiders’ defense has been awful in recent weeks but they should get a lift from the return of defensive lineman Richard Seymour who has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury and a sore knee. The defense has been lost without him. They need to pressure the quarterback better. Outside linebacker Philip Wheeler has a team-high 84 tackles.
Special Teams
Phil Dawson is one of the game’s best kickers. He has not missed a field goal attempt in over a year. Dawson is 21-of-21 this year and has made all 5 of his attempts of 50 yards or more. Reggie Hodges is an ordinary punter, averaging 42.2 yards per kick this season.
Winner The Raiders know that Sebastian Janikowski is going to make his clutch field goal attempts. He still has the strongest leg in the league and he is likely to hit a game-winner if the Raiders give him that opportunity. Shane Lechler not only gets distance on his punts, he knows how to angle them away from the return man.

The Winner Is

Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer / (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Winner Raiders
3 out of 4

The Raiders have gotten hammered in losing their last four games. They have given up 173 points over that span. Coming home to play Cleveland should be a much easier assignment. If Palmer can get off to a hot start, look for the Raiders to put the Browns away early.

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