Writer: Martin McConnell
Summary: After a resounding comeback win against the New York Jets in primetime, the Cleveland Browns will travel to the Black Hole for a date with the Oakland Raiders. With rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield now officially at the helm, Cleveland will look to replicate their second half against the Jets last Thursday, where both the offense and defense were firing on all cylinders. Let’s break this one down.
On the offensive side of things, there still isn’t a lot of tape on Oklahoma product Baker Mayfield. Mayfield was pinpoint accurate against the Jets in his debut and will look to continue shredding defenses during his trip to Oakland. The entire offense looked rejuvenated with Mayfield under center, and that is in large part to just how much zip the ball has on his passes. Jarvis Landry has noted that he had to turn the JUGS machine up a couple of notches to replicate Mayfield’s passes in practice. On Sunday, the Browns will not be seeing former Raider Khalil Mack, which can go a long way to protecting Mayfield and producing some long scoring drives.
Defensively, the Browns will, of course, need to watch for quarterback Derek Carr. Carr has been lights out this season, and despite not having a win to show for it, has been one of the league’s best through three weeks. Carr posted one of the most accurate games in NFL history in week two, going 28/30 (90.6%) on passing, for 288 yards and a touchdown. Myles Garrett should have a fun matchup against relatively raw left tackle Kolton Miller, and having a successful defensive end can open up a world of possibilities for the rest of the defense.
Overall, I think this one might be closer than either team would like. Carr and Mayfield are both coming off of hot performances, and Mayfield has a lack of NFL tape on his side. The Browns are riding a high, but the Raiders are desperate to find their first win of the season. I predict another Browns win, however close it might be. Hue Jackson gets his first Cleveland win on a Sunday, and the Browns get their first winning streak since 2014.
Final Score: Cleveland 21, Oakland 17