Week five in the NFL season has an interesting matchup in the early broadcast window as the Los Angeles Chargers head to AFC North territory to take on the Cleveland Browns. The Bolts are sitting at 2-2 in the AFC West, one game behind Kansas City while the Browns are also 2-2 at the top of the AFC North. Both teams are interesting for different reasons.
In the spotlight: Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles has been mired in quicksand as injuries have piled up. For Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, keeping the Bolts afloat until they can become healthy will be his top priority. Through four games, Herbert has completed over 66% of his passes and thrown nine touchdowns. He is more than capable of putting this team on his back and winning games on sheer will.
LA put a lot of emphasis on shoring up their lineup on both sides of the football. On offense, they added guard Zion Johnson from Boston College with the 17th overall selection and tight end Gerald Everett. On defense, they added the kind of players to elevate the Chargers from middle of the pack in the AFC West to bonafide contenders. They traded for edge rusher Khalil Mack and signed cornerback J.C. Jackson, defensive linemen Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson, and Morgan Fox.
— Los Angeles Chargers (@chargers) October 2, 2022
However, through four weeks, the jury is still out on these personnel decisions. They flashed defensively when they sacked Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr five times, and performed subpar in a 38-10 loss to Jacksonville. Herbert has thrown for 1,250 passing yards helping the Chargers offense ranks ninth in the league and averaging 23 points per game. But with a defense who ranks 30th, and giving up a whopping 27 points per game, Los Angeles remains an enigma.
In the spotlight: Cleveland Browns
It was supposed to be a different story for Cleveland in 2022. After making a tsunami-like splash by signing quarterback Deshaun Watson, the 2-2 Browns need to find a pathway forward in a division that has opportunities.
Cleveland did not do their due-diligence with Watson. They also did not have the wherewithal to have a top line backup knowing that a suspension was on deck for the former Houston Texans quarterback. Instead, the Browns had to roll with a career journeyman quarterback in Jacoby Brissett. His up and down season was to be expected. Against division rival Pittsburgh, Brissett displayed some solid quarterback play. He would throw for 220 yards on 21 of 32 attempts, averaging 10.5% completion percentage. He would add two touchdowns with zero interceptions, adding up to a 109.6 passer rating. In week four at Atlanta, his yards and completions were almost identical to those against the Steelers. His statline read 22 of 35, for 234 yards. He had one interception with zero touchdowns for a passer rating of 68.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 24, 2022
Defensive coordinator Joe Woods had a good game in week four. His biggest accomplishments were in keeping Mariota off balance. It is a lack of talent that keeps nagging the Browns. Offensively, head coach Kevin Stefanski has been horrible in the RedZone. After showing and executing a great offensive game against Pittsburgh, his play calling went completely sideways facing Atlanta.
Both teams have a lot on the line heading to week five. For the Chargers, the defense has to show a level of consistency that has proven to be a moving target in 2022. With their next two games against the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks a three game winning streak to close out October could serve as a springboard. For Cleveland, the schedule gets tough with games against division rivals. They head to Baltimore in week seven and host the Cincinnati Bengals week eight in a Halloween edition of Monday Night Football.