Sometimes in sports, an immovable force meets an unstoppable object and we are all interested in seeing who wins. Sometimes, the strength of one team is perfectly set up to take advantage of the weakness of another.
For the Cleveland Browns this week, the Los Angeles Chargers might create the second scenario. Everyone knows that the Browns offense is predicated on a great offensive line, scheme and the ability of running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to make plays. The league’s leading rushing attack opens up the rest of the offense.
Going up against the Chargers defense that will be without Joey Bosa, Cleveland might be licking their chops at a chance to bust a big play. While the Chargers are middle of the pack in yards per game given up on the ground (109.8), the yards per carry average is quite high due to big plays:
Chargers run defense is dead last in the NFL in allowing 6.1 ypc to just RBs. 31st team is 5.4. Same distance from 32 to 31 as 31 to 19th. They have done this mainly against Dameon Pierce, CEH, Josh Jacobs and James Robinson pic.twitter.com/gMjVaTPEbH— Clevta (@Clevta) October 8, 2022
Whether before Bosa’s departure with injury or after, Los Angeles has given up big runs. The Chargers defense has give up gains of 75, 52 and 50 on the ground with one coming in each of the last three games. Even in Week 1, Josh Jacobs had a 5.7 yards per carry average despite only a long gain of 18 yards.
With Chubb and Hunt able to break big gains at any time and Los Angeles showing a pattern of giving up those kinds of gains on the ground, Cleveland’s game plan will continue to lean heavily on the run. Chubb is third in the league in rush attempts, just three behind the league leader, while Hunt is in the top 25. As a team, the Browns only trail the Philadelphia Eagles (153 to 149) in total rushing attempts.
On the other side of the ball, Los Angeles has attempted less than 100 carries this season.
Can Cleveland’s run defense keep the Chargers in check? Will Chubb and Hunt continue to carry a heavy load and exploit Los Angeles’ weakness? Will Justin Herbert be able to overcome both of those things on the road?
Lots of questions going into today’s game.