The Cleveland Browns are 1-26 over the past two seasons, but this Sunday’s opponent doesn’t need to be reminded who the win came against last year. The Los Angeles Chargers called San Diego home when they suffered that embarrassing defeat and will look for a different outcome in this season’s matchup.
The Chargers have recovered from an 0-4 start to get back into the playoff mix, and quarterback Philip Rivers will make his 188th consecutive start - the longest active streak in the league after the New York Giants demoted Eli Manning (210). “I’m very thankful that I’ve been able to be out there every week,” Rivers told reporters about the streak. “I don’t take it for granted. I’ve been blessed to be healthy enough to be out there. There’s probably a little element of toughness, I guess, thrown in there.” The Browns are ecstatic to have receiver Josh Gordon returning to action for the first time since Dec. 21, 2014 due to his substance-abuse issues. “I’m just excited,” Gordon, the NFL’s top receiver in 2013, said during a press conference. “I’m having the most fun that I have ever had doing this, just playing ball, the love of it. That is the only thing that is giving me any type of - not really pressure - but kind of just boost, more than anything.”
TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Chargers -13.5. O/U: 43.5
ABOUT THE BROWNS (0-11): Gordon led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards in 2013, when he caught 87 passes (nine for touchdowns) in 14 games while earning Pro Bowl honors, and coach Hue Jackson is ready to take advantage of his talents. “I have big plans for him. I plan for him to play, and play as much as he can handle,” Jackson told reporters. “I think he is a very talented player. He needs to play, needs to get out there and play, but we have to see where he is and make sure how much can he handle, how much can he do.” The defense has allowed 30 or more points on six occasions, but No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett is showing off his ability with five sacks in six games since making his debut.
ABOUT THE CHARGERS (5-6): Rivers has passed for 2,948 yards and 20 touchdowns against seven interceptions and is coming off a superb Thanksgiving Day performance in which he was 27-of-33 for 434 yards and three TDs in a win against Dallas. Receiver Keenan Allen (67 receptions) caught 12 passes for a career-best 172 yards and is 73 away from his second career 1,000-yard season. Cornerback Casey Hayward (four interceptions) was named AFC Defensive Player of the Month for a three-interception November, but his status for the game is in doubt as he left the team due to his younger brother being killed in an auto accident.
1. The Chargers hold a 15-9-1 series advantage despite last season’s 20-17 setback.
2. Los Angeles DE Joey Bosa has registered eight of his 10.5 sacks over the last seven games.
3. Cleveland MLB Joe Schobert has made 10 or more tackles in five of his last six contests and leads the team with 99 stops.
PREDICTION: Chargers 30, Browns 20