Sounds simple, right?
Despite having won just five games all season, Cable’s Raiders have more quality wins than any other team in the NFL this year. Having beaten the Broncos, Eagles, Bengals and Steelers, it would seem an easy chore to notch win number six in Cleveland.
That was until a new life crept into the Dawg Pound.
Pac-10 aficionados knew who Jerome Harrison was prior to last Sunday. After his 286-rushing yards pushed the legendary Jim Brown out of the record book, the entire football world became aware of the former Washington State Cougar.
Not great news for a team that has a history of terrible run defense. As I told my friends over at WaitingForNextYear.com, the Raiders will have to stop the run if they have any desire to break the string of six straight 11-loss seasons.
John Marshall hasn’t fared much better than his predecessor Rob Ryan in run defense.
Sunday will be a family reunion of sorts as Ryan will square off against his former employer while Charlie Frye gets a chance to exact a little revenge on his former team. Whereas Frye will have family in stands, Ryan will have admirers on the opposite sideline. Nnamdi Asomugha is among those in the Oakland locker room who still think fondly of Ryan.
Once the game starts, you can expect those found feelings to be forgotten quickly.
Once the game starts, you can also expect Sebastian Janikowski to kick to Josh Cribbs.
Coming of a history making two touchdown kick return performance one week ago, Cribbs has established himself as the most potent returner in NFL history. Janikowski has the leg to boot balls beyond the end zone on kickoffs. Getting Cribbs to take a knee is the best weapon of defense.
When last these two met, it was the Raiders who’d walk off the field with a 26-24 win in 2007. Before that, The Frye Guy himself led the Browns to victory over Oakland in ’06 with a three TD effort to boot. Now he’s trying to return the favor for his current employer. Should Frye falter, Cable could always turn it over to his closer – JaMarcus Russell.
There are plotlines-a-plenty in this matchup. Both teams are fighting for respectability. Both teams have endured a tumultuous season. Both teams are trying desperately to salvage what remains of the schedule.
No matter the outcome, Cable has one more shot at history against Baltimore. But a win in Cleveland could set the stage for something even more unprecedented in current Raider history – a season with single digit losses.
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