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Keys to Victory

Keys to Victory: What we're watching against the Raiders

1. Baker Mayfield makes first-career start

The time is now for the Browns' quarterback of the future. Baker Mayfield will make his first career start after coach Hue Jackson named the rookie the team's starter Monday following a comeback win over the Jets. 

Mayfield, who replaced an injured Tyrod Taylor in the first half, passed for 201 yards on 17-of-23 throws and looked like every bit like the No. 1 pick in the process.

Jackson and the Browns hope the 23-year-old rises to the occasion in Oakland, much like he did last week.

"Any time that you come in a game as a young player and do what he did last week, it builds confidence," Jackson said. "I think there's a confidence from his teammates with him. When you go in and haven't had a lot of reps and you can go in and command the offense the way that he did and, help lead the team to victory, I think that says that, 'Hey, this guy can help.' 

"I think players to a man, all that they want is guys that can help them win, when it's all said and done and a guy that's going to lead him. I think that he demonstrated those things last week."

2. Can the defense continue its takeaway parade?

In 2017, the Browns defense finished with a league-low 13 takeaways. Through three games this season, the unit has forced 11 and looked, at times, like one of the league's top units while doing so. 

"The best defenses that I've had the chance to be around, to coach, to be with are the teams that can take the ball away, along with playing very stingy, field position defense and being able to play good special situation defense," defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said. 

"We have to continue to emphasize it. We do it every single day. Our guys believe in that. The talent level in some of those very key spots are vital to being able to do that."

The Browns forced three against the Jets last week, two in New Orleans and six against the Steelers in Week 1. 

3. Christian Kirksey and Emmanuel Ogbah return

After missing a pair of starting defenders the past two weeks, linebacker Christian Kirksey and defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah will play this weekend in Oakland. 

Kirksey, the veteran and captain, missed the first and second games of his five-year career while Ogbah sustained an ankle sprain early in the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

The two return to a defense that has held its past two opponents — New York and New Orleans — to less than 275 yards of total offense.

4. Feed El Guapo

Nicknamed El Guapo during his days at Ohio State, Browns running back Carlos Hyde turned in his best performance last week since signing with the team in free agency this past spring. Hyde combined for 103 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns against the Jets while compartmentalizing the impending delivery of his firstborn son. Getting Cleveland's run game going is and will remain a pivotal objective, offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. It should also take some pressure off Mayfield.

"I'm excited about our run game. I think we're going to have a chance to be a good running team," Haley said. "I like our backs. I think our guys up front are starting to all come together now after a few weeks of being together and getting on the same page. I am excited."

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