Recommended Bet: LA Chargers (-1) over Cleveland

by Brady

Los Angeles Chargers @ Cleveland Browns
Vegas: CLE +1
DomModel: CLE +3.81
Recommendation: LAC -1

Key injuries:
Los Angeles Chargers:
-WR Travis Benjamin re-injured his foot week 4. He was INACTIVE week 5. He did not practice Wednesday (10/10) or Thursday (10/11).
-RT Joe Barksdale suffered a knee injury week 1. He was INACTIVE weeks 2 – 5. He was limited in practice Wednesday (10/10) and Thursday (10/11).
-LT Russell Okung (groin) was INACTIVE week 5. He was limited in practice Wednesday (10/10) and Thursday (10/11).
-DE Joey Bosa was INACTIVE weeks 1, 2, 3, and 4 with a foot injury. He is out “indefinitely.” The latest (9/26) is he will be out at least 8 weeks.
-LB Kyzir White (knee) is was INACTIVE week 5. He did not practice Wednesday (10/10) or Thursday (10/11).
-LB Jatavis Brown (groin) did not practice Wednesday (10/10) or Thursday (10/11).

Cleveland Browns:
-WR Rashard Higgins (knee) left his week 5 game and did not return.
-CB Terrance Mitchell broke his forearm week 4 and has been placed on IR. He has a chance to return this year.

Breakdown:
When Los Angeles has the ball:
Don’t sleep on the Chargers offense this year. Also, while we’re on the subject of sleeping – don’t sleep with Philip Rivers’s wife either. First of all, she’s married, so that’s just wrong. But like, she will get pregnant. It will happen.

Image result for philip rivers gif

(I almost want us to lose this bet so I can use this gif nonstop).

Back to football. The Chargers have been largely overshadowed by their city rivals, but this is still one of the better offenses in football. Rivers is playing like he has 8 kids to feed and needs that pay check — because he does — and has the weapons to support him. Keenan Allen is putting together another productive season, while 2017 7th overall draft selection Mike Williams is coming on as a decent complimentary piece. Melvin Gordon is one of the better all purpose running backs in the league, and Austin Eckler has been a fantastic change of pace back when called upon.

I’m not too worried about the injuries along the offensive line. Joe Barksdale hasn’t played since week 2, so the model has some games to look at without him. LT Russell Okung did get hurt last game, but he’s at least been limited in practice. Plus, Okung hasn’t been anything special so far, so using a replacement likely won’t impact the offensive line much.

Cleveland’s defense:
This Cleveland defense kinda fucks? 4th overall draft pick Denzel Ward has come on strong as a solid corner, he even started occasionally shadowing John Brown in last weeks game against the Ravens. Ward teams up with EJ Gaines to make a solid corner duo. Damarious Randall and Jabrill Peppers at safety complete a very underrated defensive backfield.

2017 1st overall pick Myles Garrett is very much living up to the hype as a pass rusher. Meanwhile, rookie Genard Avery has complimented Garrett nicely along the defensive line. There’s still some holes in the front 7, but this defense ranks 4th in defensive DVOA on the season.

TL;DR Conclusion: This should actually be a fun matchup. It projects to be one of the better offenses against one of the better defenses. Is one side real or fake? We’ll find out.

When Cleveland has the ball:
The Browns offense has struggled to start the year, as they’ve transitioned to Baker Mayfield from Tyrod Taylor after Taylor’s week 3 concussion. Mayfield has stepped up to play well, and things should improve for him going forward. He’s playing behind a decent offensive line, but really only has Jarvis Landry to throw the ball too. There was a lot of preseason hype around TE David Njoku, but he’s played mostly poorly. In the backfield, Carlos Hyde and rookie Nick Chubb have both played well so far.

Los Angeles’s defense:
The Chargers defense has also struggled to start the year. They’ve been without DE Joey Bosa, and that’s hurt their pass rush in a big way. Melvin Ingram and Bosa together is a force, but offenses can hone on on Ingram and not have to worry about the other side with Bosa out.

The biggest disappointment so far has been CB Casey Hayward. Hayward was one of the better shut down corners in the league last year, but he’s been a shell of himself this year. Teams have not shied away from targeting Hayward, and it’s resulted in a 66.7% completion percentage, 196 yards, 2 TDs, 0 picks. That’s good for a 140 QB rating when targeting Hayward.

TL:DR Conclusion: Both sides have struggled, but there’s some reason for optimism. The Browns are still getting used to Mayfield’s style of play, and the Chargers have players that are simply too good to be playing the way they are.

Special Teams Analysis: That’s right, baby! I’m breaking down some motherfucking special teams. Normally I wouldn’t bother, but the Browns have the worst special teams unit in the league, and it isn’t even close. They literally can’t even kick a field goal. Denzel Ward was Special Teams player of the week last week tho? </analysis>

The model thinks that this game should be close to a 4 point spread. Without any crucial injury news, we’re happy to take the Chargers -1.

That’s it for now, bitches.

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