Browns-Raiders Preview

No matter what happens the rest of the way, the Oakland Raiders

will finish without a winning record for a 10th consecutive

season.

The way the Cleveland Browns have struggled on the road, it

appears they’re headed toward a fifth straight losing season.

Oakland will try to avoid its first five-game losing streak in

five seasons – and extend the Browns’ franchise-record 12-game road

skid – on Sunday when Cleveland rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden

could return from a concussion.

Expectations were high heading after the Raiders (3-8) finished

one game shy of the playoffs in 2011, but those good feelings are

gone as the team is riding its first four-game skid since 2008.

Oakland’s defense has been atrocious during this stretch,

allowing 169 points – the second-most during a four-game span since

the merger in 1970.

The Carson Palmer-led offense generated a season-low 218 yards

in last Sunday’s 34-10 loss at Cincinnati, and the team has now

lost three straight by 21 or more for the first time in franchise

history.

“It’s been mind-blowing,” defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said. “I

would have never, in my wildest dreams, thought we would be 3-8

right now.”

Another loss would send the Raiders to their first six-game skid

since Oct. 14-Nov. 18, 2007.

Oakland, though, could get a boost in the backfield with running

backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson practicing after each missed

the last three games with ankle sprains.

“It feels like it’s been a lot longer than it actually has,”

Palmer said. “But just good to see them in the huddle and see them

get reps and see Darren smiling and hitting the hole hard, and same

thing with Goody. Good for the team but also good for the offense

to have those guys back.”

Rookie coach Dennis Allen said converted fullback Marcel Reece

has “earned the right to carry the ball some” after rushing for 225

yards over the last three contests, but McFadden and Goodson would

likely get the bulk of the carries if healthy.

“(McFadden is) explosive,” said Browns coach Pat Shurmur, whose

team has allowed just 112 rushing yards over the last two games.

“He’s one of those guys that can score when he has the ball in his

hands. … When you have players on the field that can score

touchdowns, that’s what you want. With him not being in there, of

course that’s hurt them. With him being in there, it’s obviously

going to help them.”

The Browns (3-8) would likely be in a better position to win

back-to-back games for the first time since Sept. 18-25, 2011, if

Weeden can go. The 29-year-old rookie suffered a concussion late in

last Sunday’s 20-14 win over Pittsburgh, but he was cleared to

practice on Wednesday.

“At this point, this early in the week he’s healthy, so he

goes,” Shurmur said.

If that changes, former starter Colt McCoy, who threw for 215

yards and two scores in a 24-17 loss at Oakland on Oct. 16, 2011,

will try to guide the Browns to their first road win since beating

Indianapolis on Sept. 18, 2011.

“We’ve got Colt and Colt is going to do whatever he does,”

running back Trent Richardson said. “We’re going to make sure Colt

knows we believe in him. But I’m pretty sure Weeden’s going to be

back.”

The Raiders’ defense can’t be looking forward to seeing

Richardson in the backfield after surrendering 728 rushing yards

and nine scores since the team’s last victory.

Richardson has 407 rushing yards and two TDs over his last four

games after finishing with 85 yards, including a go-ahead 15-yard

score in the third quarter, last Sunday.

That run helped Cleveland improve to 2-5 in games decided by

seven or fewer points.

“To finish a close game like that is big for us,” Richardson

said.

It’s uncertain if there will be an Alabama reunion between

Richardson and Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain after Allen held

him out of practice Wednesday for a “team-related” issue.

Oakland could also be without defensive tackle Richard Seymour

(knee, hamstring) for a fourth consecutive game.

The Raiders have won two straight at home over Cleveland by a

total of nine points.