We are now just two days from gameday as the Cleveland Browns prepare for battle against the Los Angeles Chargers. Their loss to the Falcons has been beat into the ground, so there is no need to say more about this, but the Browns are in desperate need of a bounce-back win at home as the Chargers come to FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Browns will have to take on the NFL's leader in passing yards in quarterback Justin Herbert, but are looking much healthier themselves in preparation for this matchup. On paper, this game sizes up quite well as this should be a close matchup to watch.
What are some of the bolder take we could make about this weekend's showdown?
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Myles Garrett gets a sack in his return to action
Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett. (AP Photo/Nick Cammett)
Myles Garrett has practiced two straight days now, giving a pretty good indication he will give it a go against the Chargers. This comes just one week after suffering a sprained shoulder and strained biceps due to a car accident.
And in this one, he will be matched up against a rookie left tackle in sixth round pick Jamaree Salyer. While Salyer played at a high level against the Houston Texans in his first career start (as star left tackle Rashawn Slater is out for the season), Garrett is a different breed of pass rusher than anyone the Texans can put on the field.
Garrett has already baptized one rookie this season in Ikem Ekwonu when the Browns beat the Carolina Panthers in Week 1, and now will be looking to provide another "welcome to the league, rook" lesson to Salyer as well. It might not be a bold take to say Garrett gets home, but after a traumatic event and missing a week as a result, it would be great to see.
And Garrett will get at least one this week.
David Njoku torments the Chargers for second straight year
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku (85) runs ahead of Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Michael Davis. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
A year ago, tight end David Njoku had a coming out party against the Chargers as he racked up 149 yards and a touchdown on seven catches. The Browns have put full faith in Njoku this season now, parting ways with Austin Hooper and giving the former first round tight end a massive extension this summer.
Thus far, Njoku has not disappointed. Sure, he would love to have the fumble back against the Falcons, but otherwise has lived up to the billing. He is an extraordinary blocker when asked to do the dirty work, and is still on pace for 76 catches and 854 yards for the Browns. This would have slotted him fourth in the league in both catches and yards among tight ends a year ago.
The Browns are going to make an effort to get Amari Cooper the ball a great deal more than they did a week ago as he saw just one catch for nine yards against the Falcons. However, this Browns' offense is at its best when Njoku and Cooper are both rolling through the air (see: Jets and Steelers games).
Defensive emphasis, however, will remain on Cooper in the passing game, and as Njoku continues to eat up the middle of the field, he is one of the biggest mismatches to combat nationwide. Njoku will make it back-to-back seasons of terrorizing the Chargers through the air.
Browns hold Chargers under 28 points
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) attempts a pass against Cleveland Browns defensive end Joe Jackson (91). Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
The Chargers are averaging 23 points per game this season and have scored over 30 points just one time this whole season. So why is the inclination that they will blow the gates off of the Browns' passing defense? It is not like the Browns have been abysmal against the pass as they fall 18th in defensive efficiency against the pass thus far (and that is significantly weighed down by blown coverages the first two weeks of the season).
The Browns, however, are pitiful against the run. They fall 30th in defensive efficiency against the run in 2022. But guess what? The Chargers fall 30th in offensive rush efficiency. With the return of Garrett and defensive tackle Taven Bryan this week as well, the Browns can limit the amount of day-three rookies and practice squad players actually see the field as well along their defensive front.
The secondary in Cleveland is hitting their stride, no coverages have been blown in two weeks, and they are getting at least one of their pass rushers back (with Jadeveon Clowney as a longshot as well). The Browns become the fourth team to hold the Chargers under 28 points this season in this one.
Nick Chubb goes over 100 yards... again
Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb (24) runs the ball against the Los Angeles Chargers during the second half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Currently sitting second in the league in rushing, Nick Chubb has crossed the plane of 100 yards rushing in all but one game to start the 2022 season. He currently sits behind Saquon Barkley for the lead, and only by four yards as Week 5 action has already gotten underway.
The Chargers sit as the 18th most efficient defense against the run, which is behind the Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, and Pittsburgh Steelers. These are all teams the Browns have already gashed on the ground. With Joey Bosa out in this one, the defensive trenches for the Chargers have some ground to make up.
The Browns have thrived at staying ahead of the sticks on first down, and at converting third downs this season. With the ability to keep the Chargers' defense on their heels with their ability to throw the ball efficiently on early downs, this will create opportunities for Chubb to rumble.
It will be more of the same for Chubb this weekend.
Browns sneak out the win
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku. (AP Photo/David Richard)
This could be taken as a pun given quarterback Jacoby Brissett's ability to convert short yardage situations on sneaks. But it's not.
The vibes are positive this week as the Chargers are two days out. Last week's game felt like it was going to be a long one as the injuries started to mount early in the week. This week, however? The Browns match the Chargers very well on paper and might be catching them at the right time as they are beat up.
The mental lapses have ceased defensively, and they are not going to have to trot out street clothes players along their defensive trenches this week against an offense that cannot run the football. Everywhere the Browns are weak, the Chargers are weak opposite them. Everywhere the Chargers have strengths, the Browns have strengths opposite them.
Stefanski has his team sitting at 13-3 after a loss through his head coaching tenure in Cleveland. He knows how to put a loss in the past and get his team ready the next week. The Browns advance to 3-2 on the season after this game.
Story originally appeared on Browns Wire