Writer: Elliot Kennel
Game: Cleveland Browns (1-1-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-3)
Summary: The Cleveland Browns are not necessarily that good, but the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders are a train wreck. Cleveland fans can no doubt sympathize with Oakland fans, whose team is being stolen–yet again–in order to move to Las Vegas. Of course, the Raiders moved to Los Angeles for several years before returning to Oakland. Browns fans who are old enough can recall that miserable feeling in 1995 knowing that team would soon be taken away, and the team went 1-7 the rest of the way. That’s what Oakland is going through, and for that reason, it is impossible that they can be favored for any of their games.
The Raidahs, as Al Davis used to call them, were stupid enough to hire Jon Gruden to be their Head Coach. Gruden was happy with his gig on Monday Night Football, and if he had wanted to coach he could have done so years ago. He only accepted the job because they threw tons of money at him and he, no doubt, felt that he owed it to his family to accept. It is obviously not the job he wanted in the absence of financial considerations. It’s stupid to hire a Coach whose heart is not really into the job, which is one of the most demanding jobs in the world.
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Meantime, the Raiders are on the Sashi Brown plan, in which they are happily sabotaging the 2018 team in order that they can unveil shiny new draft choices and free agents for their developing Las Vegas fan base. Truthfully, they probably had to ship Khalil Mack away, because they are overspent in 2018 without him. Currently, they have only about $7 M in cap space. How could you hope to sign Mack for $7 M? They would have had to have cut their two highest paid players (other than QB Derek Carr) to squeeze him onto the roster. As it is, they get two first-round draft picks and around $100 million dollars of net additional cap space by cutting ties with Mack. This was a very prudent move for Las Vegas, but it hurts Oakland. That’s okay with a management team that has already decided to screw Oakland anyway.
Carr, by the way, is an extremely talented quarterback playing for a losing team. He is going to do damage regardless because he is a professional. On paper, Oakland looks great on offense, with Marshawn Lynch to tote the rock, and Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson to catch it, along with tight end Jared Cook. Word out of Oakland is that the tackles may struggle, which means that they probably will not have an answer for Myles Garrett and company. Kolton Miller is a first round pick, but still a rookie, and Donald Penn is a Pro Bowler, but he is 35, currently in concussion protocol, and coming off foot surgery. He has not played at his former level this year, so they say. The Browns should blow up the Raiders O-LIne and disrupt their offense, despite the high level of talent that exists on the interior line and the skill positions.
The Raiders defense is not nearly as stacked as their offense. They have four guys over age 30 on Defense including Frostee Rucker, who Browns fans may remember from back in 2012 in the Pat Shurmur era. According to Pro Football Focus, he’s still their best edge rusher. That is hard to believe. The Browns have significant problems at wide receiver as well as the tackle positions, but they should be able to take advantage of good field position and turnovers generated by the defense.
Final Score: Cleveland 27, Oakland 13