Cleveland Browns at San Diego Chargers
Time: 3:05 PM ET, Oct 4 2015 (CBS)
Spread: SD -7
Betting odds c/o Bovada
Cleveland has something of a QB controversy even just three weeks into the season. Fans place their hopes on Johnny Manziel, but the 1-2 Browns will need to find an answer quickly and this week will be tough, even facing another 1-2 club in the San Diego Chargers. Oddsmakers are favoring the Chargers by 7-points in the game.
Browns coach Mike Pettine is aware that the players are divided on who the starting QB should be, but aware many may be leaning towards Josh McCown at this point. Manziel led the Browns to its lone victory this year, and McCown is beaten up some. Even so, Pettine will be starting McCown this week.
He said of the controversy, “Are we going to have 1000 percent agreement on how we (use) players? No.” But it is not just using players, it is a matter of playing players. He said he was confident there was no rift in the locker room, but do not be so sure of that smokescreen.
McCown endured a concussion on an end zone dive on the first drive of the season as the team lost to the New York Jets, and Manziel came in to launch a 54-yard TD pass to Travis Benjamin, setting the stage for the controversy to come. He then threw a 60-yard TD pass the next week in a 28-14 win over the Titans, and even his detractors are not taking away his extraordinary talents for making big plays. It is developing some consistency and better accuracy which remain in question.
Pettine seemingly made the right choice in turning back to McCown, as he threw 28 of 49 for 341 yards and a TD last week in a 27-20 loss. He also threw an INT, and the Browns limp into Week 4 with a losing record. In that game, McCown suffered a hand injury, but he does not expect it to be a factor this week.
The Chargers meanwhile roll with the vaunted Philip Rivers, but he has not received adequate protection from his OL. Both of the last two games he has been sacked four times, and he was jarred badly in the third quarter of the 31-14 loss to the Vikings. Rivers also turned the ball over twice before leaving in the fourth quarter.
In the OL’s defense, it is battered and nagging injuries appear to be limiting its efficacy. Injury issues abound for San Diego and the status of many key players is still in the air this week, leaving bettors a bit befuddled at how to handle this game (staying away from it is always in play).
The Chargers are No. 4 in total offense with 402.0 yards per game, but it has also turned the ball over eight times, which ranks it No. 31 in the league. Again, however, it has allowed Rivers to be sacked just once and the Browns already do not defend the pass all too well.
Cleveland gave up 314 passing yards last week, though CB Joe Haden played hindered by a rib injury he sustained on the game’s first play. Haden is day-to-day, as is S Tashaun Gipson who is battling a groin issue but is expected to play.