1. The Oakland Raiders endured one of the worst months in franchise history, going 0-4 in November. The Browns are 4-3 against the Raiders since the return of the franchise in 1999, but the Raiders are dangerous as a desperate team. Given the fact that two players were booted during the Raiders’ last game against the Cincinnati Bengals, frustration could be setting in for Oakland. Quarterback Carson Palmer said this is a team that wants to find a way to win. It won’t be a pushover.
2. Will Brandon Weeden be sufficiently recovered from the mild concussion he suffered against the Pittsburgh Steelers? He returned to practice Wednesday but still had to make a five-plus-hour flight to the Bay Area to face the Raiders. Weeden’s play in general has been a question mark. Although the interception for a touchdown he tossed against the Steelers wasn’t his fault, he also struggled to get the Browns into the end zone against the Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys. He knows it. Last week, he said that his completion percentage needs improvement.
3. Raiders running back Darren McFadden, who’s been out the past three weeks with a high ankle sprain, returned to practice Wednesday and it appears he will play against the Browns. He’s only played against the Browns twice in his career, rushing 27 times for 114 yards. McFadden possesses an enviable mix of power and speed. He’s also a threat coming out of the backfield, catching 31 passes this season before his injury.
4. This is one of those games in which Weeden and the offense can bloody an opposing defense’s nose. The Raiders defense spent November being victimized by opposing offenses, giving up 169 points in the four-game span. The defense ranks 28th against the rush, 24th against the pass and 25th overall. It has only 13 sacks. The Browns have struggled in the red zone for much of the season and will need to be better against the Raiders.
5. After breaking a drought against the Steelers, the Browns take aim at a 12-game losing streak on the road. The Browns, if nothing else, have been a team on the verge of a lot of things, including road victories. They came closest against the Cowboys three weeks ago, but couldn’t close the deal. It’s the sign of a young team and something that Weeden would like to change. “We want to go on the road and win just to get the monkey off our backs,” he said. “We’ve come down to the wire on the road a couple of times. It’s all about finishing.” There would be a certain symmetry to ending the streak in Oakland considering it began with the Raiders in October 2011.