Browns-Raiders preview

Going by matchups, it appears the Browns have the clear edge in Sunday's game at Oakland between two 3-8 teams moving in different directions. Only problem, heavy rains and wins means it could be anybody's game.

For all the disappointment Cleveland Browns fans have endured the past 10 years, there was at least one franchise that was screwing things up worse. Much worse.

Thank you, Oakland Raiders.

Of course, 10 seasons ago the Raiders played in a Super Bowl. But since then, they have had six coaching changes and lost 11 or more games a season every season from 2003-09.

Things aren't much better in 2012. Three wins in 11 games under, what else, a new head coach in Dennis Allen. On Friday, the Raiders' former eighth overall draft pick, linebacker Rolando McClain, was suspended two games for conduct detrimental to the team.

On the offensive side, Oakland essentially traded away any decent draft picks last season for quarterback Carson Palmer, who is 271-for-449 passing for 3,181 yards with 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He is nowhere playing to his hey-day level he enjoyed in Cincinnati. Palmer isn't getting help from the running game, either, as the Raiders are ranked 29th in rushing yards per game (82.6). Defensively it isn't much better. Oakland is ranked 32nd in points allowed per game (32.4), 28th in rushing yards allowed per game (131.2) and 24th in passing yards allowed per game (247.8). Of the Raiders eight losses this season, only two have been by fewer than 10 points.

Should be an easy road win for the Browns?

Well, there's the weather. A meteorological phenomenon called a "pineapple express' is bearing down on the Bay Area. In short, it means torrential rains and winds are expected during Sunday's game.

The reports are that it's supposed to rain throughout the week so we'll prepare for it," Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. "Our guys do a pretty good job of holding onto the football. The challenge will be the same for both teams and then we'll just see what the field conditions are like."

One would assume if the weather forecast holds true, the running game from both teams is expected to take center stage. Advantage: Browns.

Darren McFadden (high ankle sprain) is listed as questionable for Oakland. Meanwhile, Richardson is coming off a workhorse type of game against the Steelers in which he carried the ball 29 times for 85 yards and a touchdown. For the season, Richardson has rushed for 755 yards and six touchdowns on 209 carries.

Once again, Montario Hardesty showed flashes in relief of Richardson, but Shurmur and offensive coordinator Brad Childress left us wanting more.

"I am very pleased with what Montario has given us when he goes in the game," Shurmur said. "I told him, I said, ‘Don't consider how many reps. Consider how many reps you're in there and how they have an impact on the game.' It's quality, not quantity and he's given us good quality when he's been in there.

"He's got a little bit different style than Trent I think we would all agree watching him run. When he sees daylight he slashes it up in there and that little bit different style I think has a good effect on the defense."

Going by matchups on paper, it appears the Browns have the edge. Yes, both teams are 3-8, but the Browns have been competitive in their eight losses.

The weather and field conditions are the X-factors.

After each of the previous two Browns victories this season, the following game is a disappointing loss. First, there was the 17-13 loss at Indianapolis on Oct. 21 and then the 25-15 loss to Baltimore on Nov. 4.

Five games remain for the young players to continue to trend upward. The win over the Steelers, regardless of how it was obtained, is a good start. Now, it is time for this team to travel west and take care of business against a supposedly inferior opponent.