By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor
Here are five keys for the Browns in Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders:
>>Jump out to an early lead. The common thread in the Raiders’ lopsided losses in their last three games is opponents building early big advantages and Oakland being unable to rally. For instance, last week the Bengals took a 24-0 halftime lead on the way to a 34-10 triumph. If the Browns are to end their 12-game road losing streak, they need to take an aggressive, first-strike approach.
>>Put together another physical, attack-oriented defensive performance. The Browns beat the Steelers last week and nearly beat the Cowboys in Week 11 because of the dominance of their front seven. They absolutely pounded the Steelers to the tune of five forced fumbles (among the eight turnovers they caused). And they sacked Dallas quarterback Tony Romo seven times. The Browns should be able to turn up the heat on Carson Palmer, who was sacked four times last week. Another reason for them to do all they can to rattle Palmer is the fact he has thrown an interception in seven consecutive games.
>>Continue to stuff the run. The Browns have played the run exceptionally well the past two weeks. They need to continue the trend against the Raiders, who are getting No. 1 running back Darren McFadden back from an injury and have a talented reserve in Marcel Reece. The Raiders are likely to use both players extensively as runners and receivers. Browns defensive tackles Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor have to maintain their disruptive ways in the middle of the defense, and that should help talented end Jabaal Sheard and standout linebacker D’Qwell Jackson to have an impact.
>>Don’t allow the Raiders to get anything going through the air. The return of cornerback Joe Haden last week from an oblique injury made a massive difference for the Browns’ defense. He was a big part of the tight coverage that helped result in the Steelers’ Charlie Batch throwing three interceptions. Haden should be up to the task of keeping wide receiver Denarius Moore, who is a dangerous deep threat, in check. The Browns need to do the same against Darrius Heyward-Bey, another big-play receiver, and tight end Brandon Myers, who is Palmer’s go-to target.
>>Get long gains on the ground. The Raiders do an effective job of clogging the middle of the line, but they’ve had issues preventing chunk plays against the run. That should present an opportunity for Trent Richardson to rip off some long runs, something he is capable of doing every time the ball is in his hands. And the ball is in his hands a lot; he has averaged nearly 31 touches per game in his last four games.
>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.
>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/browns_daily, Twitter.com/viccarucci, e-mail: Daily@ClevelandBrowns.com, or by calling 855-363-2459.
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