The talented, but inconsistent Cleveland Browns host the San Diego Chargers Sunday afternoon at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Cleveland seemed far removed from the rush dominant team that put up 34 points against Cincinnati in Week 6, and fell to the Indianapolis Colts last week 17-13.
Quarterback Brandon Weeden had his sixth straight game of at least 200 yards passing, and completed only his second game without an interception, but the Browns struggled on the ground, gaining only 55 yards to the Colts' 148 yards.
The Browns are being cautious with prized first round draft pick Trent Richardson this week as he’s still recovering from a rib cartilage injury.
In their last two games, Cleveland has split carries between Richardson and veteran Montario Hardesty, who gained 56 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals, but only had seven attempts versus Indianapolis.
The return of top cornerback Joe Haden in the last three games has boosted the Browns’ secondary, as they recorded seven picks in the first two and Indianapolis rookie Andrew Luck failed to throw for a touchdown in the third.
San Diego comes off a bye week, after dropping two straight games, including a blown 24-point first half in their 35-24 loss to the Denver Broncos.
The Chargers churned out their second winning September in six seasons under head coach Norv Turner, only to see it washed away with an 0-2 October, in part to its 25th ranked pass defense letting up 268.2 yards per game.
Reinforcements are on the way for the Chargers’ secondary in the form of cornerback Shareece Wright, who is listed as probable against Cleveland after missing the last five games with a foot injury.
Quarterback Phillip Rivers had his worst performance of the season against Denver, throwing for 241 yards but also four interceptions, including a 46-yard pick-six for Denver cornerback Chris Harris in the fourth quarter that iced the game for the Broncos.
To take some pressure off Rivers, the Chargers may give more snaps to running back Ryan Matthews, who had a season-high 22 carries against Denver for 74 yards. San Diego may look to Matthews in the red zone as well, as he’s only reached pay dirt once this season in four games.
The game begins at 1 p.m. EDT and will be shown by CBS, or watch a live stream online by purchasing NFL Sunday Ticket Max.
Betting Odds: San Diego is favored by 3 points
Over/Under: 44.5 points
Prediction: Matthews is the key for San Diego, and he’s yet to have a breakout game this season. Weeden can torch the Chargers secondary, and if Rivers struggles again with turnovers, the Browns will have their second win of the season.
Predicted Score: San Diego 24 , Cleveland 18