The Cleveland Browns have spent all week preparing for Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders at the O.co Coliseum, but a different opponent, Mother Nature, could have the biggest impact in this AFC showdown in California.
According to the Weather Channel, Oakland, San Francisco and the entire Bay Area will be facing storms later on Thursday and those storms are expected to last through Sunday. The predicted “significant rainfall” and accompanying wind could bring as much as four to six inches by day’s end Friday.
Early predictions have an 80 percent chance of heavy rain and wind and 59-degree temperatures on game day.
“It’s supposed to be rainy,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “It’s kind of a what do they call it, a Pineapple Express. I guess there’s a fancy name for the storm. I think it started in the Hawaiian Islands. The reports are, it’s supposed to rain throughout the week, so we’ll prepare for it. Our guys do a pretty good job of holding onto the football and the challenge will be the same for both teams. We’ll just see what the field conditions are like.”
The Browns have played through rainy conditions in several of their games this season, especially leading up to and during an Oct. 28 game against the San Diego Chargers. Prior to Hurricane Sandy making her way through the New York and New Jersey areas, the outer bands of the storm made for rainy conditions during the Browns’ 7-6 win over the Chargers.
“(You) remember back to the Chargers and add a little bit of cold to it,” Shurmur said. “Those conditions were less than ideal to play a game and you saw it did affect some of the play selection. It was a little tighter, closer to the vest by both teams. I’m not saying that’s what’s going to happen, but when you add rain and wind, it changes some of what teams do.”
In preparing to play the Raiders, Shurmur and offensive coordinator Brad Childress said the predicted weather conditions cannot dictate the game plan.
“You put together a game plan to attack how they play defense and the wind and rain don’t change that much,” Shurmur said. “We have enough run plays and pass plays to do what we want to do. You might have to lean more on shorter throws. You may have to lean more on the run game. Sometimes, the conditions dictate that, but you go into it being ready to play like it’s going to be 70 and sunny.”
Childress added, “You really factor in trying to beat the defense that you think you’re going to see. I don’t think they’ve got like a typhoon defense. While our special teams coach may have a typhoon return, I don’t think we have a typhoon offense.”
RETURNING TO THE LINEUP
Over the past two games, the Browns have gotten healthier on both the front and back ends of the defense. In addition to adding
Prior to the team’s 23-20 overtime loss at the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 18, Gipson had missed five straight games due to a knee injury.
Since his return, Gipson has made four two tackles on defense and started his first NFL game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (Nov. 25).
“You’ve got to be somewhat verbal,” Shurmur said of the traits of a safety. “You’ve got to be able to communicate and help get things changed. We feel like he’s a good athlete, so he can react and play the ball in the deep part of the field. We feel he can come up and tackle. Those are the things that we saw in him. He’s a young player that’s developing. We’ve got him back in the game and he’s done a pretty good job for us.”
COMPETING IN PRACTICE
After suffering a concussion in Sunday’s win over the Steelers, quarterback
“He went through practice, did everything, looked fine, looked good,” Shurmur said. “Colt (McCoy) handled all the scout team work like he normally does, nothing different.”
RUNNING THE BALL
Four weeks ago, the Raiders surrendered 251 yards and four touchdowns to Doug Martin on 25 carries in a 42-32 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Last week, Cincinnati running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed 129 yards and one score on 19 carries.
This season, the Raiders have allowed an average of 131.2 rushing yards per game.
“I think each game is different and each situation’s different,” Shurmur said of Browns running back
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