There are too many similarities to count between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Cleveland Browns.
Each team enters their Week 5 contest at 3-1, sporting 25 points-per-game and boasting a top-10 defense.
Cleveland’s only loss was a close game to the reigning AFC champions.
Chargers are 2-0 in the AFC West for the first time since 2012. The 3-1 Browns are up next Sunday at SoFi Stadium. pic.twitter.com/JEnNK9hcFt
— Chris Hayre (@chrishayre) October 5, 2021
Los Angeles beat the Chiefs but lost by 4 to the improving Dallas Cowboys.
But there are also some differences, such as how their offenses and defenses operate.
The #Browns open up as 1 point favorites on the road versus the Los Angeles Chargers.
— Nick Pedone (@NickPedone12) October 4, 2021
Cleveland’s run-first attack puts them just about even in overall yards and points with their West Coast opponent.
And that might make the difference in Sunday’s game as the Browns attack the Chargers’ Achilles heel.
Here are 3 bold predictions for the Browns versus Chargers game.
1. Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt flirt with 300 yards
Los Angeles gives up a whopping 5.3 yards per rush attempt through 4 games this season.
And while they’ve faced some good running backs, they haven’t faced the duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
Chubb is the second leading rusher in the NFL despite handling fewer chances than most of the other leaders.
And on a per-carry basis, Hunt has an edge on his All-Pro teammate.
— Brad Stainbrook (@BrownsByBrad) October 5, 2021
Coupled with the Chargers’ excellent pass rush and turnover rate, we expect Kevin Stefanski to run early and often.
Last week’s 36 pass plays against Minnesota should return to the 22-26 number that won 11 games last year.
But it might be Cleveland’s passing game that pushes Chubb and Hunt toward 300 total yards.
Expect the duo to produce more than a couple of big plays off check-downs Sunday.
2. Odell Beckham Jr’s First TD Reception of 2021
Much was made of one particular pass that fell well short of a wide-open Odell Beckham Jr last week.
And Baker Mayfield’s explanation did not win over many critics of the oft-maligned quarterback.
But the fact is, Mayfield failed to connect on any of his pass attempts over 20 yards against Minnesota.
This despite owning one of the highest deep-passing accuracy rates in the NFL.
Baker Mayfield MISSES a wide-open Odell Beckham Jr.😨 #Browns
— TWSN (@TWSN___) October 3, 2021
We suspect Beckham, Mayfield, and Stefanski discussed that play and others soon after the game.
And next time Beckham, or any other receiver, has 2 steps on the entire defense, Mayfield will adjust to the fly.
Odell Beckham might not find himself as open against the Chargers’ defense this week.
But at some point, Mayfield will feed him his first touchdown catch of the season.
3. Browns Defense Keeps Streak Alive
Justin Herbert is a dynamic and exciting young quarterback, but he isn’t unstoppable.
And with a revitalized pass rush bearing down on him, that could force mistakes by the young passer.
Cleveland closed the escape routes running quarterbacks found earlier in the season, too.
The #Browns currently rank 2nd in the NFL in total defense.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) October 5, 2021
Even the Browns offense is helping the defense by dominating the time of possession since Week 3.
Joe Woods is still adding pieces to his defensive scheme, but his players have already bought into it.
And that adds up to a long day for L.A. as Myles Garrett and friends hold a third straight team under 10 points.