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Marcel Reece's work at running back has been one of the few bright spots for the Raiders. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
The forecast for this Sunday’s Raiders game is gloomy.
At 3-8, the Raiders have lost four straight games, have huge holes in their defense and have gone through a tumultuous week with former first-round pick Rolando McClain, who appears on his way out the door.
And then there’s the weather.
Heavy rains and high winds may be in store for the Raiders-Browns 1:25 p.m. kickoff at O.co Coliseum for a game blacked out in the Bay Area.
The good news?
The Browns are coming to town.
After consecutive losses to the Bengals, Saints, Ravens and Bucs – teams with explosive offenses – Oakland gets the chance to play another 3-8 team that also has struggled. Oddsmakers have made the Raiders 1½-point favorites.
Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden has had his ups and downs, and last week suffered a concussion in a victory over the Steelers. He was cleared to practice during this past week and is expected to start Sunday.
The Browns feature young running back Trent Richardson, who’s had 407 rushing yards over his past four games and is the AFC’s top rookie rusher with 755 yards. With the weather expected to be bad, and the Raiders’ run defense porous, Cleveland may decide to pound the ball on the ground with Richardson.
For the Raiders, running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson were limited in practice this week, but head coach Dennis Allen said they could see playing time against the Browns. It’s expected, however, that Marcel Reece – who has done a good job in their absence and been one of the team’s most pleasant surprises – will be the starter Sunday and get most of the work.
“There’s still a little work I have to do,” McFadden told the Bay Area News Group this week.
Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer has been working through a sore right thumb, hurt against the Bengals last week, but is expected to start.
Though the Browns have had their troubles, they’ve been competitive in most games, and their 22nd-ranked defense has been opportunistic. Cleveland ranks No. 7 in the NFL with 13 interceptions and last week the Browns had three picks and five fumble recoveries in their 20-14 win over Pittsburgh.
Meanwhile, don’t look for McClain’s No. 55 on the field Sunday. After being barred from practice Wednesday, reportedly after getting into an argument with Allen, it appeared he would be released by the team Thursday. That didn’t happen, but a release or suspension are still likely. Omar Gaither is expected to start in his place, reports Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group.