Oakland Raiders: Key Matchups Worth Watching vs. Cleveland Browns

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Oct 26, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck (91) sacks Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer (6) during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns won 23-13. Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Raiders, after opening the season with two games at the raucous and friendly confines of the O.Co and the Black Hole, will be playing in Cleveland and trying to get a King Kong-sized monkey off their collective backs. Not only will the Raiders be trying to build upon the momentum earned by a hard fought victory over the Baltimore Ravens, the team will be trying to lay to rest a horrendously embarrassing streak of futility against the Browns.

It’s been nearly six calendar years — a span of sixteen games — since the Raiders last won a game in the Eastern Time Zone. On that December day back in 2009, Bruce Gradkowski led the Raiders to a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field and earning himself a spot in the hearts of the Raider Nation.

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But this is a new Raiders team and a new era of Raider football under the guidance and leadership of Jack Del Rio. Though Oakland has plenty of issues that they have to address if they want to take that next step – most specifically, on the defensive side of the ball. But you can see that they have the building blocks in place to be a very competitive, very good football team.

The Browns on the other hand, while they have some outstanding talent, players like Joe Thomas and Joe Haden, you don’t get the sense that the Browns are on the verge of turning their franchise around. Some of that comes from the instability under center, where on any given week, you never know whether it will be Johnny Manziel or Josh McCown — “ or somebody else — throwing the ball for Cleveland. Credit to Mike Pettine though, he has made the Browns a better team since his arrival, but they still seem to be a little way off from taking that next step toward relevancy.

Most people think this game will be a snoozer, but it could turn out to be a very good, very entertaining game — though most Raiders fans are likely hoping it’s neither too good, nor too entertaining.

But as we get ready for Raiders vs. Browns, here are some key matchups to keep an eye on.

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