On Sunday at 4:05 pm eastern, the Cleveland Browns look to win their fourth consecutive game, as they take on the Los Angeles Chargers.
Although it is early in the season, this game could be significant for playoff position.
Heading into Week 5, there are seven 3-1 teams in the AFC.
The Browns and Chargers are two of them as well as the Bengals and Ravens.
In this important contest, there are plenty of matchups to keep an eye on.
Here are the top three:
1. Baker Mayfield vs. Chargers’ Lack of Pressure
Although the Browns are 3-1 this season, there is a spotlight being placed on Baker Mayfield and his lack of success under pressure:
Took a lot at how QBs have graded under pressure versus when kept clean (the latter of which has been found to be much more stable + predictive going forward).
It's cool that PFF has made all this available! pic.twitter.com/WTSKpSc2Uk
— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) October 4, 2021
According to the chart above, the Browns quarterback has one of the league’s poorest Pro Football Focus grades when pressured.
Fortunately for Mayfield, he is facing the Chargers.
Los Angeles has one of the lowest blitz percentages in the league this season:
- Las Vegas Raiders: 7.2 percent of blitzes per drawback, the lowest percentage in the NFL (Browns’ Week 15 opponent)
- Philadelphia Eagles: 10.1 percent
- New England Patriots: 12.9 percent (Browns’ Week 10 opponent)
- Los Angeles Chargers: 13.1 percent
- Houston Texans: 15.2 percent (Browns’ Week 2 opponent)
In Week 2, the Browns defeated the Texans, 31-21.
In that win, Mayfield completed 19 of his 21 pass attempts for 213 yards and two total touchdowns.
He was sacked twice and threw an interception, but he had his season-best quarterback rating of 105.0.
In Week 4’s 14-7 victory against the Vikings, unfortunately, Mayfield had the lowest quarterback rating of his season (59.5).
Can he have a bounce-back effort against the Chargers?
2. Jack Conklin vs. Joey Bosa
It will not be easy for the Browns in Week 5, as Mayfield and company take on the top-10 Chargers defense.
A big part of the defense is Joey Bosa, who is just 26 years old and already has three Pro Bowl selections under his belt.
The No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 draft helped the Chargers hold the Raiders to just 14 points on Monday night:
There were some great performances in the huge win against the Raiders on Monday ⚡️
The highest graded players in that game:
1. Joey Bosa – 90.8
2. Jared Cook – 90.4
3. Corey Linsley – 87.1
4. Austin Ekeler – 85.7
5. Rashawn Slater – 83.6
6. Justin Herbert – 83.0 pic.twitter.com/at9nmrzp9y
— PFF LA Chargers (@PFF_Chargers) October 5, 2021
Bosa moved his 2021 sack total to 2.5 and is on his way to his fourth double-digit sack season.
Can two-time First-Team All-Pro offensive tackle Jack Conklin contain Bosa when he rushes Mayfield?
If Conklin can do so, then Mayfield should have plenty of time in the pocket to make plays.
3. Browns DL vs. Chargers OL
For those wondering, the Browns have the 12th-lowest blitz rate in the league at 21.7 percent.
It seems to be working for them as the Browns have been a very strong defense through four weeks.
In addition to being a top-four defense in points and yards, here is how they rank thus far this season:
- Second-fewest first downs allowed
- Second-fewest yards allowed per rush
- Second-most sacks
The #Browns currently lead the NFL in both pass rush win rate (59.0%) AND pass block win rate (71.9%)
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) October 4, 2021
Can the Browns continue to be the best pass-rushing team this season?
It will be important to see continued success, as Cleveland faces a passing offense that is sixth in yards and fifth in touchdowns in 2021.
In terms of battling the rushing game, the Browns will have to limit Austin Ekeler.
Austin Ekeler had a career-high 117 rushing yards vs Raiders pic.twitter.com/ldYpN71leB
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) October 5, 2021
That battle will begin at the line, as it will not be easy to stop Ekeler.
If the rushing game is stalled, then Herbert may not have as much success stretching the field with impressive pass-catchers Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Jared Cook.
Consistent victories at the line will lead to a win on Sunday.
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