Josh McCown and Philip Rivers are looking to get their respective teams back in the win column on Sunday.
The Cleveland Browns (1-2) and San Diego Chargers (1-2) both seek to avoid a losing streak when they square off at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday.
Josh McCown resumed his role as the Browns’ QB1 last week with mixed results. He threw for 341 yards and two touchdowns, but also added the game-ending interception. He’ll need to up his game to get the win.
Philip Rivers seeks to take advantage of Cleveland’s slumping secondary. The Browns were torched by the Raiders passing game last weekend; the Chargers hope to do the same if the injury-depleted line in front of their QB holds up.
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Here are three keys to the game for both the Browns and Chargers:
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Once again, the Browns find themselves with the league’s worst run defense. Look no further than their 14 missed tackles last week against Oakland as one of the biggest culprits. Latavius Murray piled up 139 yards on 29 carries, numbers that rookie Melvin Gordon will be looking to replicate.
2. Get the run going
The Browns’ offense was supposed to be built around their rushing attack behind a strong offensive line. Instead, they’re 25th in rushing yards (259) and averaging 3.6 yards a carry — and those numbers are actually buoyed by McCown and Manziel. Isaiah Crowell needs to find a rhythm to help Cleveland control the clock.
3. Blanket Keenan Allen
Pro Bowl corner Joe Haden has struggled and he’ll have his hands full with Keenan Allen, who already has two games with over 100 yards and double-digit catches. The Bengals made him disappear in Week 2, however, with two catches for 16 yards. Mike Pettine should take a page out of Cincy’s playbook — lock down Allen, lock down San Diego’s passing attack.
1. Trust your rookie running back
Head coach Mike McCoy likes to joke his team selected Gordon for a reason. It’s unclear what that reason, though; the Wisconsin product is pulled off the field on third down, in the red zone, and in the fourth quarter. The Chargers need to see what their rookie can do.
2. Put Allen to the test
Allen has already perfected the league’s best Houdini act – he’s utterly dominant some weeks, but disappears for others. Philip Rivers and Co. expect he’ll show up again this week; the Browns pass defense was just carved up and Haden is banged up.
3. Three steps and throw for Rivers
Asking Rivers for deeper drops is a recipe for disaster. Three-fifths of his starting offensive line could miss Sunday’s game, and the team’s reserves wilted last weekend. Quick, short, accurate throws are what’s needed to keep No. 17 upright â at least until help returns.