Updated: Oct 7
Every week, our crack writers pool competes for bragging rights with a prediction of the upcoming Chargers contest. This week: the Cleveland Browns vs. an uncertain Chargers run defense at FirstEnergy Stadium in Staley's hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.
Follow along all season and post your predictions in the comments below. Who will win the prediction game at the end of the season?
Week 5: vs Browns
Win. Just about. This organization will not go without a fight. The homefield advantage will again help to push the opposing team closer to a win than I'd be comfortable with.
The Chargers will get gashed heavily on the ground by Chunt [the 2-headed dragon of Chubb and Hunt we presume -ed.], but the run defense will eventually find its groove with Herbert and Co putting up enough air yards to pull out a win.
Score prediction: Chargers 27 - Browns 21
Loss. After watching too many Madden simulations, I've come to dread this game. The Browns' defense might keep us out of sorts. This will be one of the two head-scratching losses we've had every year with Herbert.
At this point, the Chargers do not expect Keenan Allen to play, and now even the kicker's status is uncertain. This could be the ugliest game of the season.
Score Prediction: Chargers 10 - Browns 31
Win. They say misery loves company. If you didn't know, Chargers fans have a genuine kinship with Browns fans. If another franchise exists with enough cumulative emotional baggage to rival ours, then surely they wear bone necklaces, bark like dogs and can explain whatever Brownie the elf is.
One of my best friends is a Browns fan. Whenever I need to tap into that Midwestern fatalism to make myself feel better about my own team I can always count on Mikey. After a few beers and a shoulder to cry on, I feel better about my own football life. Mikey is always there to talk me down off of the ledge and restore perspective. I wish I could say that I provided the same mental health service to him.
"We are one of the most emotionally stable fan bases around." Mikey said. "You can't really disappoint a Browns fan because they expect suffering. There's none of this volatility that other fans experience."
Other fans talk about their team's ceilings; in Cleveland a ceiling is just something else that could fall and hurt somebody. When you expect the floor to fall beneath, you learn to keep your head down.
When the Browns took a 27-13 lead in the third quarter last year at Sofi, I remember being genuinely happy that my friend was with me to experience the joy of seeing his beloved dogs having their day, in person. I took a look at Mikey and didn't see euphoria on his face. It looked more like a toddler uneasily cranking a Jack-in-the box.
The Chargers came back to win 47-42 in a game that felt like it had been played on God's XBox. God abhors punting.
The Browns ran for 230 yards and held the ball for 36:28 to the Chargers 23:32. In all, they amassed 531 yards of total offense—and lost. Mikey took the beating in stride. "This ain't my first rodeo."
To have a sense of how bad the Browns have been, coach Hue Jackson told reporters after going 1-15 in 2016 that if that happened again he would jump into Lake Erie. The Browns did him one better. They went 0-16. Hue jumped into the lake. [We know another lake Hue can jump into. -ed]
As a head coach, Jackson went 1-31 over the course of two seasons—and the Browns still brought him back for a third year!
Jackson's sole win came against Philip Rivers and a gutted Chargers team on Christmas Eve. Now who should be wearing the cone of shame? It is debatable.
Chargers fans have Marlon McCree. The Browns have Ernest Byner.
Pain Index: Advantage Chargers
The best teams in Cleveland ran into John Elway, Dan Marino, and Johnny Unitas in the postseason. The best teams in San Diego ran into Mark Sanchez, Chad Pennington, and Gifford Nielson.
Pain Index: Advantage Chargers
The Browns last championship was in 1964. The team has never reached the title game in the Super Bowl Era. The Chargers last championship was in 1963. The Chargers were embarrassed in their sole Super Bowl appearance losing 49-26 to San Fransisco in January, 1995.
Pain Index: Push
The Browns have Josh Gordon memories. The Chargers have David Boston nightmares.
Pain Index: Advantage Chargers
The Chargers low-balled a contract offer to future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, who left as a free agent and won a Super Bowl for New Orleans. The Browns fired coach Bill Belichick who won six of them.
Pain Index: Advantage Browns
The only real jab Chargers fans had left does not even pass muster. With a season circling the drain in November we could always say, "At least we live in San Diego. You guys have fun chipping ice off of your cars in Cleveland."
Mikey and I suffer our daily sojourns on the 101 and the 405 freeways now.
Pain Index: Push
We see our reflections looking into the mirror. You can see why we choose to drink together. The Chargers and the Browns are historically lovable losers.
We both did not know how to utilize Eric Metcalf.
We both have a soft spot for Marty Schottenheimer.
We both contemplated buying Tyrod Taylor's jersey for a game or two, before replacing him with a rookie quarterback.
We both saw our franchises uproot and leave town for swanky new digs and resplendent new uniforms.
We will toast to another bittersweet battle this Sunday.
Cleveland quarterback Jacoby Brissett gave the Chargers all they could handle the last time he faced them in 2019 when he was a member of the Indianapolis Colts. He is more than capable of keeping the Browns ahead of the sticks.
The Chargers have already shown that they will surrender explosive plays on the ground and have a dubious streak going: they have allowed a run of at least fifty yards in three consecutive games. Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb aren't just the best backs the Chargers have faced thus far; they are the best in the game. Period.
If the Chargers rebuilt defensive line cannot slow down the Browns on the ground for the second year in a row, then they will need more heroics from Justin Herbert just to keep up. The margins for error will remain mitigated by the magical right arm of the star QB for as long he remains standing—and in one piece.
The Browns secondary had no answer for the Chargers aerial assault last season and has not faced a quarterback his caliber this season. Cleveland (2-2) has faced Baker Mayfield, Joe Flacco, Mitch Trubisky, and Marcus Mariota.
If passing games were math courses then the Browns are about to take a test in trigonometry. They just barely figured out fractions.
The Chargers will win 33-27. Or they won't. You cannot suffer from an existential crisis in week 5.
See? Perspective. We can always tally up the Pain Index later.
Score prediction: Chargers 33 - Browns 27
Win. Last season, the Chargers won the slug out against the Baker Mayfield led Browns, 47-42. The 47 points were the most the Chargers had ever scored in the matchup. The Browns may be limping off a loss to the Atlanta Falcons but this matchup, they have the home field advantage. They also rank 1st in time of possession, 2nd in rush yards per game and have a 45 percent 3rd down efficiency rating. Even with the Chargers injuries, the Browns team haven’t faced a fully healthy Derwin James led defense. If the Herbert and the offense can continue on the upswing, there should be opportunities to excel the run and passing game.
Score prediction: Chargers 28 - Browns 17
Lose. We go into another game with no Keenan Allen, along with a banged up Everett and Palmer. Without Bosa's underrated run defense I believe we fall to the Browns this week in a close game. Until the Chargers prove otherwise I can not trust this run defense.
Score prediction: Chargers 17 - Browns 24
That's it for our Week 5 predictions. Please join us and post your predictions in the comment section below. Go Bolts!