OAKLAND The Raiders' game against the Cleveland Browns today is one their most hard-core fans can love.
With each team 3-8, the playoffs are a dream. The Raiders are reeling, having given up 169 points in their past four games, the last three of which were decided by early in the fourth quarter.
Cleveland is coming off a 20-14 win over Pittsburgh and had to fight to the finish despite getting eight takeaways. Unlike the Raiders, the Browns have hung tough in most of their losses.
The Raiders and Browns find themselves in the same place. Both organizations are in ownership transition, playing under a symbolic rain cloud that could well be a literal one in an O.co Coliseum quagmire.
The game is blacked out locally and will be seen by only a sliver of a national network audience.
For the Raiders, it's a chance to stop the skid before an intimate gathering of their most loyal fans.
"It's got to end this week against Cleveland," defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said. "We've got to try and get back on track. Everybody's got to dig down a little deeper, I guess."
The constant losses have the Raiders readjusting their sights weekly.
"We're looking at this thing as if we're zero and zero and we've got a five-game season," coach Dennis Allen said. "Let's go out and see what we can do in the next five games. I don't sense there's a black cloud hanging over (the players). I think they enjoy playing football. They're ready to get back out and play again."
Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur finds himself in the same situation as Hue Jackson with the Raiders last season. Jimmy Haslam officially became the Browns' owner in October, and team president Mike Holmgren was swept out in favor of Joe Banner.
More often than not, new management wants its own coach, as Jackson discovered when owner Mark Davis and general manager Reggie McKenzie decided on a new direction, with McKenzie deciding on Allen.
"I'm sure they are going to make some decisions here at the end of the season, but as coaches we don't worry about that," Shurmur said last week.
The Browns have lost 12 consecutive road games, beginning last season when the Raiders won 24-17 on Oct. 16 and Jason Campbell broke his collarbone. That led to a trade a few days later for Carson Palmer (9-3 against the Browns as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals).