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Key Matchups: A great day to be an edge rusher in Cleveland

Editor's Note: At press time, Raiders-Browns is still scheduled to kick off Saturday, Dec. 19, 1:30 p.m. PT.

The Raiders vs. Cleveland's weather II: The sequel

People always complain that sequels never live up to the original movie. And while that argument could be applied to this, it's worth noting.

Last season when the Raiders traveled to Cleveland, the weather was absolutely atrocious. At kickoff of the game, it hovered around 40 degrees, to go along with 40 mph winds and continuous rain and sleet throughout the game — remember "graupel"? The Raiders' gameplan had to be altered with the weather – as Derek Carr completed only 15 passes and Josh Jacobs had 31 carries, the most he's had in an NFL game.

"It looks like 40 (degrees) and drizzle. We worked with wet balls today," offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Wednesday of the upcoming trip to Ohio. "We worked a ton of wet balls with the wide receivers and quarterbacks. We'll get a chance tomorrow to be out on the field to test their cleats. They will probably wear our seven-stud cleats, but we did a lot of work today with wet footballs. And again, we'll adjust on Saturday if the weather changes."

While the weather won't be as drastic this Saturday, it won't much better. The current weather forecast shows that it will be a high of 36 degrees with 13 mph winds. This could very well be another instance where Jacobs and the Raiders' run game decides this team's fate.

Crosby/Ngakoue vs. Garrett/Clowney

This season, it's been hard to find a pass rushing duo that has been as impressive as Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue. The two have combined for 14 sacks and 42 quarterback hits this season. Crosby is having perhaps his best season since being drafted, leading the league in QB pressures with a 90.9 PFF grade. Ngakoue has two forced fumbles this season and has reached nice sacks in a season for the third time in his career.

One of the only pass rushing duos that compares to Crosby and Ngakoue is on the other sideline this week. The Browns have a pair of No. 1 overall draft selections in Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney. The two together have put up freakish numbers, combining for 20 sacks and 43 quarterback hits. What also makes the duo so dangerous is their versatility and ability to play off the edge and inside.

"They played [Garrett] inside and Clowney outside, Clowney inside and [Garrett] outside," said Olson. "They are looking for the same matchups defensively, so we are aware of that. You'll get a feel once the game gets started on where they feel their matchup is and then we'll adjust accordingly."

The Cleveland Browns vs. COVID-19

At this point, there have been so many Browns placed on the COVID list, I've lost count.

Regardless, at press time, this game is currently still scheduled to be played on Saturday, and while the Browns seem to be at a clear disadvantage, the Raiders still have to play a Browns team on the East Coast in less than ideal weather conditions. On top of that, the Browns have elite NFL talent on their roster, even with multiple starters missing.

The Raiders have no business overlooking the Browns this Sunday if they want to stay in the playoff hunt. Also to the Browns players that have tested positive — get well soon.

View the best photos from practice as the Silver and Black prepare for the Cleveland Browns in Week 15.

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