1. Skeleton squad
Of course, the biggest storyline of the week has been the numerous key pieces sidelined for the Browns due to COVID-19. As of Friday, more than 20 players were placed on the Reserve/COVID list, according to the team's website, as well as Head Coach Kevin Stefanski and other coaches testing positive. Because of the outbreak, the game has been moved to Monday at 2 p.m. PT.
If Stefanski isn't cleared in time for Monday's game, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will step in as acting head coach, while Nick Mullens would take over at quarterback if Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum continue to test positive.
And while this circumstance of playing against a depleted team isn't something the Raiders have seen this year, it hasn't changed their preparation while adapting to the situation, as they'll still be facing a stout defense featuring Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward.
"With COVID, we've seen a lot of things the last two seasons that are unprecedented," offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Wednesday before the game was rescheduled. "We'll roll with it. It looks like right now we are going to play the game and we're just preparing our guys right now based on the film they're having a chance to see and that's how we are putting the gameplan together right now."
2. Renfrow on the rise
While COVID-19 cases have caused the Browns to dig into their depth, they're especially thin at nickel cornerback, with Troy Hill on the COVID list and rookie Greg Newsome in concussion protocol. This bodes well for Hunter Renfrow, who has had an explosive past few games and will be looking to build upon his success.
For the first time in his career, he's notched three consecutive 100-plus yard receiving games and on the season, is averaging 67.5 yards per game – also a career high. Renfrow is 123 yards away from hitting 1,000 receiving yards on the season, and would become just the 13th player in franchise history to do so.
The third-year receiver is also nearing a new franchise record. Renfrow needs just 22 catches to become the Raiders' single-season leader in receptions, a record set by Darren Waller last season with 107.
3. Containing Nick Chubb
Browns running back Nick Chubb is a problem for any defense, and it won't be any different for the Raiders this week.
Chubb is a threat both on the ground and through the air, having racked up 1,038 total yards of offense on the season, with seven touchdowns and four 100-plus yard rushing games to his name. The Silver and Black's run defense has improved over the course of the season, but has given up an average 125.3 yards per game and last week against the Chiefs, allowed 132 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.
4. Get it going early
A common theme for the Raiders this year has been slow starts: In the past two games, the Raiders have failed to score a touchdown in the first half of the game – reminiscent of the beginning of the season where the team didn't score a first half touchdown until Week 3 against the Dolphins with less than two minutes left. It'll also be imperative to limit turnovers, another recent struggle for the Silver and Black, and control the tempo from the very beginning.
"The main thing is that we're too much of this (up and down) instead of just doing the same thing right over and over again, and that's as a whole," Derek Carr said. "We got to be better as a whole, and if we can be consistent, we've shown that we can put up a lot of points and put up a lot of yards against some really good teams."
5. Chilly in Cleveland
Even with the game moved to Monday, it'll still be a cold one for the desert-dwelling Raiders.
According to weather.com, the forecasted high for Cleveland on gameday is 44 degrees with 15 mph winds.
6. Game of field goals?
Speaking of weather...taking a look back at the Raiders and Browns' last meeting in 2020, it was a slugfest in terrible weather conditions. Rain and sleet led to a game of field goals between Daniel Carlson and Cody Parkey, until a sole Hunter Renfrow touchdown in the fourth quarter gave the Raiders the lead and the win over Cleveland.
If it comes down to field goals again, the Raiders have all the confidence in Carlson, who has made 28-of-31 FGs this season and who last week signed a multi-year contract extension to stay in the Silver and Black.
"It means a lot that they've kind of respected the work we've put in the last few years and the results we've put on the board with our play from Oakland to here in Las Vegas now," Carlson said at the time.
View photos of past matchups between the Raiders and Browns as the Silver and Black prepare for their Week 15 matchup at FirstEnergy Stadium.