Cleveland (3-1) at LA Chargers (3-1)
When: Sunday, October 10th, 2021
Where: SoFi Stadium,
Los Angeles, CA
Time: 4:05 ET | TV: CBS
Opening Odds: Pickem/50.5
One of the more intriguing matchups this Sunday is a battle between 3-1 teams in the Cleveland Brown and Los Angeles Chargers. SoFi Stadium will host this Week 5 matchup between two teams looking for more than just a playoff berth. The Chargers are coming off a nice 28-14 home win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday night, while the Browns grinded out a 14-7 road victory at the Minnesota Vikings. The offense for Cleveland has sputtered a bit with rumors that quarterback Baker Mayfield could be playing hurt after trying to make a tackle a few weeks ago against Houston.
Still, the Browns have the best 1-2 punch in the backfield with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Those two have totaled more than 230 rushing yards each on the season to help the Browns lead the league with 708 yards on the ground.
The Chargers run defense has been poor, ranking 29th in the NFL at over 140 yards allowed per contest. The pass rush has been much better for L.A. and they are creating a bunch of turnovers including five in the last two weeks. They are sixth in the NFL in turnover differential. The Chargers are tied with both the Raiders and Denver Broncos for first place in the AFC West with the dangerous Kansas City Chiefs right behind at 2-2.
Money is coming in on L.A. after this game opened at Pickem in most places. The Chargers are now favored by 2 points with a total set at 47 as of Friday morning. This is the first meeting between these teams since a 38-14 Chargers victory in Cleveland three years ago. It was a rough outing for the rookie Mayfield, who was outdueled by Philip Rivers. The Chargers have a 17-9-1 edge in the series and have taken three of the past four.
The Cleveland offense is averaging 25 points per game, but Mayfield has been less than dominant, tossing just two total touchdowns and has been sacked a total of eight times over the past two weeks. Last week at Minnesota, Mayfield was 15-of-33 for 155 passing yards and zero touchdowns. Fortunately, the defense has picked up the slack. The Browns have surrendered just 13 total points in their recent wins over Chicago and Minnesota and only trail Buffalo with just 250.3 total yards per game allowed. Myles Garrett leads the NFL with six sacks while Jadeveon Clowney has two. The unit has allowed just 66.5 rushing yards per game as well. The Browns had 11 players that did not practice on Wednesday including Garrett and Malik Jackson. Cornerback Greg Newsome II has already been ruled out with a calf issue. The Browns are 4-0 against the spread in their last four games as a road underdog.
Herbert tossed three touchdowns in Monday night’s win over the Raiders and now has seven over the last two weeks without an interception. Los Angeles has struck first in each of its past two outings, allowing just three total first-quarter points during that stretch. New head coach Brandon Staley has been efficient and aggressive on fourth down. The Chargers are already 4-for-5 on fourth down after converting just 48 percent of the time in 2020 (12-of-25). On the injury front, everyone practiced on Wednesday, however, Derwin James (toe/shoulder), Chris Harris Jr. (shoulder) and Justin Jackson (groin) were limited. The Chargers are 5-0 against the spread in their last five vs. AFC teams.
The Chargers have been one of the best all-around teams this season so far and bettors are getting behind them. All I say is don’t underestimate this Cleveland team. They will start to figure things out on offense, but in the meantime, the defense will carry this team. Garrett is a beast and can single-handedly disrupt opposing offenses. The Browns play well as an underdog and I say they get the big road victory here.
Pick: Browns +2
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