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3 things to watch for against the Browns

Rashawn Slater will face his toughest test thus far as a rookie this week.

Las Vegas Raiders v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

For what feels like the fourth-straight week, the Chargers will take part in one of the premiere matchups on this week’s slate of game in the NFL.

In Week 2, it was America’s Game of the Week on Fox. For Week 3, who wasn’t watching the Chargers take out the Kansas City Chiefs? And then, of course, this past contest was in primetime on Monday Night Football vs. the Las Vegas Raiders.

This game pits two top teams in the AFC West, both of whom are 3-1, with either likely vying for a top season in the conference alongside the Chiefs and Bills. What more could you want?

According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Chargers are -2 point favorites as they host the Cleveland Browns at SoFi.

As always, I wrote about three themes or storylines that I’ll be watching closely when things kick off on Sunday afternoon. Let’s get into it.

1.) This week’s premiere matchup will be Myles Garrett vs. Rashawn Slater

Through the first month of the season, Slater has Pro Football Focus’ seventh-highest overall grade for an offensive tackle with a 77.9. Over 190 pass-blocking snaps, he’s allowed just six pressures and zero sacks.

On the other side, Garrett currently leads the NFL with seven sacks and is tied for second in the league with 25 total pressures. Anytime a game features two players going at it who are at the top of their respective positions, it’s must-watch football.

Slater has faced his share of notable pass-rushers this year, a group which has included Yannick Ngakoue and reigning Defensive Rookie of the year, Chase Young. Garrett is far-and-away the toughest test he’ll face all year, but something tells me Slater is well-aware of that fact and will be ready to hold his own on Sunday afternoon.

2.) After the Vikings managed to rattle Baker Mayfield, will the Chargers try to deploy a similar defensive strategy?

Joey Bosa is the leader of this defensive line and the big bear currently sits second in the NFL with 23 quarterback pressures. If there was one thing that I saw work well for the Vikings against the Browns, it was getting in Mayfield’s face early and often and that’s something Bosa has the chance to do against an offensive line that may wind up missing both of their starting tackles this Sunday.

The Browns’ interior line features an All-Pro talent in left guard Joel Bitonio and Pro Bowl center JC Tretter so I do not expect big games from guys like Jerry Tillery and Christian Covington. However, as long as they can hold their ground to a degree, I think this can be a nice day for the team’s trio of edge rushers.

Mayfield is also suffering from a partially-torn labrum which has visibly burdened him in recent games. Against Minnesota, he completed 15-of-33 passes for 155 yards and no scores. Being hurt and facing down a ton of pressure is a quick recipe for a bad day at the office.

3.) Will we see a bounce-back game for both Mike Williams and Keenan Allen?

The torrid start to the season for both Williams and Allen came to a notable halt this past Sunday against the Raiders when the two combined to record 47 yards on eight total catches with no touchdowns.

Through the prior three weeks, they had combined for 43 catches for 553 yards and five touchdowns.

Unfortunately, a bounce back game doesn’t look to be on the books as the Browns are bringing to town the NFL’s third-best pass defense (183.8 YPG) and second-best defense overall (250.3 total YPG). Young and talented corners like Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams have been playing well alongside safeties Grant Delpit and John Johnson III. There really isn’t a weak spot among this secondary and I can’t help but think this will be the offense’s toughest task of the season.

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.