The Chargers (2-2) could well be facing a 4-0 Browns team this week, but Cleveland is a town well-versed in losing. The Browns have found ways to lose winnable games against the Jets and Falcons and hit the meat of their schedule wishing that they had more margin for error. The Chargers fell seconds short of a playoff berth. Cleveland’s six opponents after that made it to the postseason.
Therefore, there will be a heightened sense of urgency and a little more passion coming from the Dawg Pound. It sure would help if Keenan Allen could get back on the field, but the hamstring injury is lingering and Justin Herbert’s top target remains day to day.
Los Angeles Chargers (-2½, 47½) at Cleveland Browns
Last week’s game against the Texans was a big one for Herbert and the offense. After being stifled by the Jaguars with an injured Herbert on the field, the Chargers matched their scoring output of the previous two games combined with 34 points, including 27 in the first half. Los Angeles eased off in the second half but still managed 419 yards of offense, including 338 through the air. Herbert was sacked only once and Austin Ekeler scored two rushing touchdowns.
It should be another good week for the offense here. The Browns defense was gashed by the Falcons’ rushing attack and we’ve seen Cleveland have several blown coverage assignments leading to big plays this season. However, the Chargers defense remains under the microscope. The Texans racked up 6.5 yards per play last week and rushed for 9.4 yards per carry. Now the Chargers take on arguably the best ground game in the business.
It is a strong statement from oddsmakers and bettors to have the Chargers as a road favorite here, but I think the over is the way to go. Cleveland had over 400 yards of offense last week, but turnovers and red-zone failures prevented points. The Browns have consistently moved the ball this season and should do so against the Chargers. However, the Chargers should also find success with Cleveland ’s communication issues in the secondary and banged-up defensive ends. Mother Nature looks to be cooperating along the shores of Lake Erie and that should lead to a game that gets into the 50s.
Pick: Over 47½