Herbert, Chargers set to test Browns' surging defense
By The Associated Press undefined
CLEVELAND (3-1) at LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (3-1)
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. EDT, CBS
OPENING LINE: Browns by 1, according to FanDuel SportsBook.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Cleveland 3-1; Los Angeles 3-1.
SERIES RECORD: Chargers lead 17-9-1.
LAST MEETING: Chargers beat Browns 38-14 on Oct. 14, 2018, in Cleveland.
LAST WEEK: Browns beat Vikings 14-7; Chargers beat Raiders 28-14.
BROWNS OFFENSE: OVERALL (11), RUSH (1), PASS (26), SCORING (12).
BROWNS DEFENSE: OVERALL (2), RUSH (3), PASS (3), SCORING (4).
CHARGERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (10), RUSH (T-16), PASS (6), SCORING (T-14).
CHARGERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (9), RUSH (29), PASS (5), SCORING (7).
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Browns minus-1; Chargers plus-3.
BROWNS PLAYER TO WATCH: Rookie LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. The second-round pick from Notre Dame has gotten more playing time the past two weeks and made the most of it. The Browns have been impressed at how he’s handled a heavier workload. Also, any worries about Owusu-Koramoah being undersized have so far been eased as he’s shown he can fill a hole or take on a pulling lineman.
CHARGERS PLAYER TO WATCH: TE Jared Cook had six receptions for 70 yards and a touchdowns against Las Vegas, none bigger than his catch for 13 yards on fourth-and-2 at midfield in the fourth quarter after the Chargers’ lead had been cut to 21-14. Los Angeles is 4 of 4 on fourth downs, keeping its offense on the field, with Cook moving the chains on both attempts against the Raiders.
KEY MATCHUP: Rams rookie LT Rashawn Slater vs. Browns DE Myles Garrett. His explosiveness and strength has led some teams to double- or triple-teaming Garrett, or at the minimum, using a tight end to “chip” him coming off the line. Slater has played exceptionally well, but this will be his stiffest test to date against Garrett and his league-leading six sacks.
KEY INJURIES: Browns QB Baker Mayfield has been playing with a torn labrum in his left shoulder that won’t require surgery at this time. Mayfield will continue to play as long as the injury to his non-throwing shoulder doesn’t worsen. Browns rookie CB Greg Newsome II (calf) will miss his second straight game. … WR Jarvis Landry remains sidelined with a knee sprain suffered in Week 2. … Starting LT Jedrick Wills Jr. has also been downgraded to out after he had been playing on a sprained ankle sustained in the season opener. … LB Anthony Walker has been activated from injured reserve after missing the past three games due to a hamstring injury. … Chargers RB Justin Jackson is doubtful due to a groin injury. … CB Chris Harris Jr. is on track on return after missing the past three games due to a shoulder injury sustained in the season opener.
SERIES NOTES: The Chargers have won the last two meetings and three of the past four against the Browns. … Los Angeles is 12-0 in the series when scoring at least 25 points. … The Browns are 3-8 against the Chargers since returning to the league in 1999. … Mayfield was 22 of 46 passing for 238 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in a loss to the Chargers in 2018.
STATS AND STUFF: The Browns have allowed 266 yards rushing through four games, the fewest in franchise history. … The Browns’ defense continues to improve after a slow start. Cleveland has given up just 20 points in the last 10 quarters. … Cleveland leads the league in rushing yards (708), rushing touchdowns (9) and rushing first downs (41). The rushing attack has gotten at least 150 yards in each of the first four games. … Mayfield is coming off a rough performance last week, when he completed just 15 of 33 passes and missed several wide-open receivers. Mayfield’s inaccuracy may be partly due to him having to wear a harness to protect his left shoulder, which he sprained in Week 2. … Led by Garrett, the Browns are tied for second in the league with 14 sacks. … Browns K Chase McLaughlin, who played four games for the Chargers in 2019, has been perfect this season, making all 16 kicks (nine PATs, seven field goals). McLaughlin has made kicks of 52, 53 and 57 yards. … Chargers QB Justin Herbert has 10 300-yard passing games through his first 19 starts. He is tied with Patrick Mahomes and Dan Marino for most 300-yard games through two seasons. … Herbert has thrown a league-leading 13 touchdown passes in October since last season. … Chargers OLB Joey Bosa has five tackles for loss and three sacks in two games against the Browns. … Chargers WR Mike Williams has five explosive receptions of at least 20 yards this season, but just one of those plays resulted in a touchdown. Williams had four scores covering 20-plus yards last season.
FANTASY TIP: Browns RB Nick Chubb got his first 100-yard rushing performance of the season against the Vikings, hitting the century mark on 21 carries, and ranks second in the NFL with 362 yards. But the Chargers showed significant improvement in defending the run on Monday, limiting the Raiders to 2.7 yards per carry, so Chubb might need another heavy workload to justify RB1 status this week.
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