The San Diego Chargers (1-2) return home after two road games that resulted in two losses for the Bolts. Last Sunday was an ugly one as the Vikings scored 21 straight points to open the second half in their 31-14 route of the Chargers. Now with the Browns (1-2) coming to town, this could be the matchup the Chargers need to get back on track.
When: Sunday, October 4th 10:00 am PT
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
Betting: Chargers (-9)
The Chargers own the advantage in series meetings at 14-8-1. The Browns and Chargers have met 24 times but the Chargers have had success in the last handful of meetings. The Bolts have won 9 out of the last 12, which includes three straight victories in the perfect weather of San Diego.
Despite the Chargers problems on the offensive line, this is still a group averaging over 400 yards a game, top five in the NFL. While this O-Line will be held together with duct tape this Sunday, if they can give Philip Rivers just a few seconds in the pocket, we should be able to put up numbers on the board. Rivers already has 4 INT’s and one fumble lost, winning the turnover battle with be huge on Sunday.
Keenan Allen, 29 recs & 314 yards, has been setting all kinds of club records so far in the first three games and is coming off a two TD game against the Vikes. He’ll have a tough matchup against All-Pro corner Joe Haden this Sunday but you know Allen will be ready with the shake, and bake. Haden also got taken to school by Amari Cooper last week and is questionable for Sunday with hurt feelings.
Tough to establish a running game with all the injuries up front but Melvin Gordon has been progressing each game and Danny Woodhead is still holding it down on passing downs and running hard on those predicable shotgun draws.
The Chargers signed center JD Walton and promoted tackle Tyreek Burwell to have enough guys to physically suit up this week.
The defense has just one sack through three games and it came during the second quarter in the season opener against Detroit. There is no pressure being applied to opposing quarterbacks and it’s hurting a Bolts’ secondary that has played extremely well.
The Chargers are also giving up 140 yards on the ground. Teams are running all over them and the tackling has been poor, to be nice about it. The team ranks in the bottom five of rushing yards allowed per game and if that doesn’t improve the Chargers are in deep trouble. Opposing teams are slowing the game down, controlling the clock and the Chargers offense is going three-and-out almost every possession. It’s a recipe for disaster that needs to be fixed this week. Bear down, stop the run and hit them back in the mouth.
The Browns are starting Josh McCown at QB after Johnny Manziel led the team to their only win in week 2 when McCown was out with a concussion. Knowing the Chargers can’t stop the run, look for them to control the time of possession and try to limit the amount of throws McCown has to make.
Running backs Isaiah Crowell and Rookie Duke Johnson should get plenty of work out of the backfield Sunday. Johnson is more of the receiving back so if the Chargers take the lead, look for Johnson to get more work with his pass catching ability.
Wide receiver Travis Benjamin has been unstoppable as a deep threat early on this season. He has scored 4 TD’s on 10 catches so far. It will be imperative that the Chargers’ safeties know where #11 is at all times, he cannot get behind the defense even with McCown flinging the ball around.
The Browns have talent on defense but as a unit haven’t quite jelled together. Cornerback Joe Haden and Pro-Bowl Safety Tashaun Gipson anchor a dangerous secondary. In the middle of the defense, Karlos Dansby leads the team in tackles and motivational speeches. Need to get our blockers to the second level so Melvin Gordon can break one.
We talked about the porous run defense of the Chargers, but the Browns are even worse as they rank last in run defense. I would say Melvin Gordon would be salivating at this matchup but with this offensive line injuries, I’m just not sure what to expect this week. Hoping they can open up some big holes for the Wisconsin product though.
What we’re Watching:
I’m watching how this offensive line works together on Sunday. After just a mess of a game from the O-line, I’m nervous for an encore performance. This offense is elite, they have weapons all over the field but without any time for Rivers to make the throws, it’s no better than the Browns offense.
Part two: Also interested in watching the play-calling. Frank Reich has been getting called out left and right this week after three weeks of conservative, predicable play-calling. Can we take a shot down field on first down, just to keep the defense honest? We’ll see.
The result will be favorable.