By Dave Thomas
While the San Diego Chargers have had their struggles over the last couple of weeks, it has pretty much been business as usual for the Cleveland Browns.
As a team that has never made it to the Super Bowl, the Cleveland Browns this season have pretty much done what people thought they would do — lose. With a lone win over division rival Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago, the Browns sit dead last in the AFC North with a mark of 1-6.
So, is there any way possible that the Chargers could go into Cleveland this weekend for their 10 a.m. (PT) date with the Browns and actually lose?
Yes, that is always a possibility, but the Bolts know that doing just that will have a major impact on their ability to win the AFC West two months from now.
While San Diego (3-3) needs a win to right the ship and get a positive taste back in its mouth, Cleveland would probably just be happy to say they beat someone else besides the Bengals.
Browns In Familiar Role In AFC North
Coming into the season, there was tempered hope that the Browns might be able to make some noise in the tough AFC North, but through seven weeks, it appears rather obvious that the division going to be a two- or three-team race, at best.
Given the excitement of former Alabama star running back Trent Richardson coming out of college a year early and landing in Cleveland’s lap as the number three overall pick last April, hopes were that he could be the offensive piece of the pie to build around. While Richardson has rushed for nearly 348 yards and four TD’s this season, he might miss this game or be limited due to a rib injury.
If Richardson does not play, the pressure will be turned up on quarterback Brandon Weeden, who has not exactly lit the NFL on fire through seven games (72.3 passer rating, 10 TD’s, nine INT’s). That being said, the rookie QB has gained praised from the coaching staff recently, especially with his ability to take more command of the offense as the season progresses.
“I think that’s leadership, being able to exert himself more, to encourage the other players, but also be willing to get on them a little bit and do it in a way that makes sense and when I say ‘makes sense,’ I mean fits that player’s personality,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur told ClevelandBrowns.com this week. “I’ve seen the interaction he’s had with the receivers. Within his personality, it fits Brandon.”
On defense, the Browns will turn to a unit that leads the conference with 10 interceptions and is in the battle for conference supremacy in the sack department (18). Defensive back Buster Skrine leads Cleveland with 49 tackles (43), while linebacker Craig Robertson and defensive back T.J. Ward have been in on 47 and 41 tackles, respectively.
Unless both teams decide to not play much defense and light up the scoreboard, look for a low-scoring game, one that could come down to the feet of field goal kickers Nick Novak or Phil Dawson.
San Diego leads the all-time series against Cleveland 14-7-1, winning in the last encounter 30-23 in 2009.
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Dave Thomas is a freelance writer covering all things Chargers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.