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Browns-Raiders: 5 things to watch for


The Browns' offensive line

The Jaguars showed how to fully disrupt the Browns top 10 offensive flow: batter the offensive line. To be fair, Jacksonville's defensive line is one of the best in the league. But they were able penetrate enough times to cause some concern for a unit that has been Cleveland's strength thus far in 2014. The thing is that the offensive line didn't miss a beat in the second half of the Steelers game without center Alex Mack. They can play well enough together – they'll just have to prove it against Oakland.

Raiders running back Darren McFadden

McFadden is only averaging 3.8 yards per carry and Oakland's only giving their its starting running back an average of 12.1 carries a game. Do the Raiders alter this strategy knowing the Browns have struggled to shut down running backs?

How does Brian Hoyer respond?

There have been rumblings from the local media about Hoyer's shaky completion percentage – 16-for-41 against the Jaguars. Hoyer's response?

"It's a team game. I don't care about my stats I care about us winning."

Who has been the MVP of the Browns so far this season? The answer is simple: it's Hoyer. The Saints and Titans wins aren't possible without his late-game heroics, and his hailstorm of deep throws against the Steelers on Oct. 12 had the Pittsburgh defense befuddled. Hoyer has proven he can play well but because Jacksonville was his first truly dicey performance, he hasn't had to respond yet.  

Great quarterbacks have bad games, it's how they come out the next week that matters the most. Hoyer knows this. If he can move the offense, which he's shown he's more than capable of during the first six weeks of the season, the doubters will pipe down.

Charles Woodson is still a beast

Even at 38-years-old Woodson is leading the Raiders in interceptions (two) and tied for the lead in tackles (39). Just to provide a comparison for you (and no disrespect) but longtime Ravens safety Ed Reed is 36 years old and retired from the NFL. The fact that Woodson is not only still strapping on his helmet, but is almost non-arguably the best player on his defense, is astonishing. Woodson can still light up receivers over the middle too, meaning Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel must be aware of his presence. 

Who returns punts for the Browns?

Jordan Poyer's muffed punt last week inside the 5-yard line was a game changing play. Jim Leonhard is solid at securing the football on punt returns, but he isn't known to be an explosive player who can make would-be tacklers miss. What about trying out Marlon Moore? The Browns' current kick returner has excelled in that role and would probably welcome the challenge to return punts. Other suggestions: Hawkins, Gabriel, Robert Nelson, Justin Gilbert – or even Travis Benjamin. There was a time last season when Benjamin was one, if not, the most feared return man in the league. Maybe some time off will help him. 

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