Oakland Raiders: Key Matchups Worth Watching vs. Cleveland Browns

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Sep 20, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray (28) is defended by Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith (22) in the first quarter as at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Latavius Murray vs. Cleveland Defense

Over the first two games of the season, the Raiders’ game plan didn’t include a lot of running. In fact, Murray, who was expected to be a workhorse and big factor in Oakland’s offense, has only carried twenty-six times. But in those twenty-six carries, he’s amassed 109 yards for a pretty decent average of 4.2 yards per carry. He’s also chipped in a touchdown.

The problem hasn’t been Murray’s ability. Unlike last year when Oakland featured Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew, the Raiders have a very capable back this year who has proven to be far more explosive than either of the backs he was behind on the depth chart in 2014.

The problem thus far has been Murray’s lack of touches. Facing two stout running defenses, Oakland opted to throw more, run less. Though in all fairness, against the Bengals in week one, they were in such a big hole, all they could really do was try to throw their way out of it.

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  • Against the Browns though, they Raiders will be facing a run defense that has been absolutely gashed by opposing running backs. The Cleveland defense gave up 155 yards to Chris Ivory and the New York Jets, and then another 166 yards to the Tennessee Titans — who were led by Dexter McCluster, who stopped being relevant ages ago and his 98 yard outburst.

    Needless to say, giving up an average of 160 yards a game on the ground isn’t a recipe for success on defense. However, it could be a recipe for success for the Raiders. All they need to do is get Murray cooking early.

    Led by Haden, the Browns have a tough passing defense and Carr is going to need to pick his spots carefully. But if they can get Murray on track and let him pound the ball into the gut of Cleveland’s defense, it could soften them up a bit, giving Carr a better look downfield.

    This is the perfect game for the Raiders to unleash a running attack that, between Murray and the speedster Taiwan Jones, has the ability to be very potent.

    Next: Air Assault