Defensive back Joe Haden #23 of the Cleveland Browns intercepts a pass as teammate Tashaun Gipson #39 and wide receiver Mike Wallace #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers look on at Cleveland Browns Stadium on November 25, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Photographer: (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
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CLEVELAND - Momentum is a funny thing. For some, it has a strange power that players will tap into. For others, it's used one game at a time.
That is exactly how members of the Cleveland Browns are dealing with "the momentum" that was gained in Sunday's win over the Steelers.
Trent Richardson has his own feeling on what Sunday's win means.
"It’s only one game. I can’t judge the whole season on one game. If we could play a one game season it wouldn’t be the game of football. For us, we’ve got to put that in the past and we’ve got Oakland now, so we’ve got to play this like it’s a championship game.”
The question will be answered soon enough when the Browns travel to the famous "Black Hole" out in Oakland to face the Raiders for the second time in as many years.
Last year, the Raiders used big plays on special teams to beat the Browns 24-17. This year's matchup features a pair of 3-8 teams that seem to be going in different directions. The Browns on the way up, Oakland on the way down.
Darren McFadden continues to be the key for the Raiders offense. McFadden has been limited in practice for the silver and black this week, and remains questionable for Sunday's matchup. Oakland is not the same team without their great back. The Raiders have tried to fill McFadden's role with multiple bodies, but none of them have give the team any kind of consistency in the run game.
Last week, the Raiders were dominated by the Browns division rival, Bengals. A fourth-quarter brawl only made matters worse as two Raiders players, Tommy Kelly and Lamar Hunt, were ejected and could miss Sunday's game.
The Raiders defense is already the worst in the NFL in points (32.4 per game). The offense has struggled. Last week against the Bengals the raiders managed just 216 yards of total offense.
Carson Palmer has been up and down as the Raiders signal caller this year. Palmer is eighth overall in total yards, but along with his 18 touchdowns comes 12 interceptions, the sixth highest total in the NFL.
The Browns defense has been able to generate a lot of pressure the past two weeks and, thanks to the return of Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin, the Browns are able to rotate fresh players. Palmer could be another sitting duck for the Browns aggressive defense.
The Browns should be able to score points on Oakland's defense, with or without the ejected players from last week. The weather, however, will be the X-factor. Wind and rain is expected to dominate the bay area this weekend, making life difficult for both teams. Due to the recent Oakland struggles on offense and the uncertainty on McFadden, the Raiders might not see a lot of points on their side of the ball.
The Browns will have to ride their "mudder" Richardson. He should be the beneficiary of extra carries if weather conditions are as bad as expected, limiting the passing games of both squads.
The Browns have momentum, nobody will argue with that, but momentum is a week-to-week high in the NFL. You win, the momentum keeps building, you lose and you are right back to square one.
The Browns schedule is favorable coming down the stretch. Their next three games are against teams with a losing record, again a chance to build some momentum heading into Denver and Pittsburgh in the season finale. Have the Browns exceeded expectations this year? I don't think anybody would say they have. Start a little winning streak and finish 6-10.
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