The Raiders return home to Oakland looking for their first win of 2018. They’ll face their former head coach in Hue Jackson and a team in the Browns flush with new confidence.
As the Raiders search for their first win of the season, let’s take a look at three key factors that will play a role in determining the victor of Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns:
Hue Jackson’s return to Oakland
Sunday’s game will mark the first time Browns head coach Hue Jackson returns to face off against the Raiders as the lead man of another team. Jackson was fired from the same position in Oakland in 2012. It is no secret that Jackson has held some animosity toward the Raiders organization ever since and will no doubt want to put on a show on the gridiron. Jackson loves fancy trick plays and given the outside circumstances of his return, along with going up against a Raiders defense that is lacking speed and quickness, those plays could be an emphasis in Sunday’s game. The Raiders have had trouble containing trick plays this season, giving up multiple touchdowns on various variations of the jet sweep. If the Browns are able to catch the Raiders even half a step slow, they will be primed to pick up some big gains on offense.
Baker Mayfield’s first start in the NFL
When Baker Mayfield was drafted first overall by Cleveland, there were lots of skeptics. After just playing one half in relief of an injured Tyrod Taylor, many have changed their tune. After a brilliant comeback coming off the bench against the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football last week, Mayfield was given the reigns by Jackson, in what will be the rookie’s first start in the pros. Mayfield not only looked poised in the pocket last week but the entire Browns team got a lift. There is an adage by which teams are said to get a major boost when a young quarterback comes off the bench, resulting in the entire team getting a spark and last week was no different. The Raiders don’t exactly have a lot of intel to evaluate Mayfield, which also adds to the intrigue of how defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will devise the defensive game plan. Expect the Raiders to create a lot of extra-man rushes and multiple disguises in an attempt to confuse the rookie.
The last thing the Raiders will want is to collapse in the fourth quarter at home to the Browns, of all teams.
Will the Raiders show up in the 4th quarter?
The Raiders have capitulated in the fourth quarter all season. Oakland’s late-game collapses have happened in each game but in different ways each time. This has made it difficult for the Raiders coaching staff to identify any single problem, so rectifying this may be a long-term goal rather than a short-term quick fix. The last thing the Raiders will want is to collapse in the fourth quarter at home to the Browns, of all teams. The Raiders desperately need a win to give their season some sort of life, so expect a great sense of urgency. That urgency and desire to right the ship may be the difference between a win and a loss come Sunday.