Writer: Chris Markoch
Game: Cleveland Browns (1-1-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-3)
Summary: This one makes me nervous. Who would have thought the Browns might find themselves in a trap game? But this sure feels like one. The Browns are fresh off an emotional win in a nationally televised game that had the added bonus of being Baker Mayfield’s coming out party. And next week, they come back home for division rival Baltimore.
In the meantime, they have to fly across the country to face a Raiders team that, while 0-3, has shown a little bit of fight. They have led at halftime of all three games, and their offense has averaged right around 400 yards per game. I don’t see this game being a cake walk.
There is an opinion that Baker Mayfield will come back to earth a bit now that the Raiders have tape on him. I think that argument discounts the fact that Mayfield had no first-team reps prior to entering the game versus the Jets. Plus, the word in Berea is that the Browns are expanding the playbook with Baker now taking first-team reps. Teams will adjust to Baker for sure, but I think for at least a couple of weeks the Browns have the element of surprise on their hands.
The game will ultimately be won, as most games are, at the line of scrimmage as most games are. I don’t see the Raiders being able to stop the Browns pass rush for an entire game and the Raiders have already shown they don’t have much of a pass rush. If only they had someone like Khalil Mack?
Ultimately, I predict it will be Baker Mayfield’s ability to turn field goal attempts into touchdowns that makes the difference. The Browns rely on a strong second half defense and pull off a hard-earned, come-from-behind win.
Final Score: Cleveland 21, Oakland 16