1. The Bay Area could receive up to 5 inches of rain through Sunday with wind gusts up to 35 miles an hour during the game, according to weather forecasts. If ever a weekend existed where the run game was needed, this is it. The problem: Browns starting running back Trent Richardson confesses that he’s not 100 percent because of an injury to his ribs. Even so, there’s little reason to believe that he can’t be effective against the Raiders’ 28th-ranked run defense. Despite that injury, Richardson gained 85 hard-earned yards on 29 carries and scored against the Steelers. Browns coach Pat Shurmur can only hope his team possesses left tackle Joe Thomas’ attitude: “I can’t wait. I love the bad weather.”
2. It’s rare that any defense claims eight turnovers in a game, yet the Browns did so against the Steelers last week. The Browns, of course, would settle for another appearance by that opportunistic defense in the hopes that they notch back-to-back wins for the first time since the start of the 2011 season when they beat the Colts and Dolphins in consecutive games. The Raiders are tied for 25th in the league in turnover ratio with minus-7. The Browns are tied for seventh in the NFL with plus-8. In November, Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer threw seven interceptions.
3. Getting those interceptions depend on one thing — getting to Palmer. Browns defensive players said Palmer, a former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback, hasn’t lost anything, which means the quick release is still there, but his offensive line hasn’t exactly coveted the 6-foot-5 quarterback. Time has been a luxury the past four games as opposing defenses have sacked Palmer 12 times. The Browns have sacked opposing quarterbacks 10 times in the same span. But sacks don’t necessarily have to be the end result. Pressure could be enough to rattle Palmer. In the past two games, he’s completed no better than 56 percent of his passes.
4. During last week’s teleconference, Palmer sounded genuinely relieved to have running back Darren McFadden back on the field. McFadden missed the past three weeks with a high ankle sprain, depriving the Raiders of his big-play potential. It’s true that he has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry this year, but he can still be explosive. The mere threat of him breaking one might be enough to give Palmer a chance to get the Raiders’ play-action passing game to work. If he does that and can get time, Palmer is one of the most accurate deep passers in the NFL.
5. The Browns offense must take advantage of any opportunities that it gets inside the red zone. That means touchdowns, not field goals. Its inability to do so doomed the Browns against the Cowboys. They repeated that folly against the Steelers and allowed the game to be closer than necessary despite forcing eight turnovers in the game. Their red-zone offense ranks 31st in the league in percentage of touchdowns scored inside the 20 with 38.5 percent. In fact, their best weapon inside the 20 has been forever reliable kicker Phil Dawson. Conversely, the Raiders rank 30th in the NFL in red-zone defense, giving up touchdowns 65.8 percent of the time. That’s called opportunity.