Chargers beat Browns, move into tie for division lead

Just like that, the once 0-4 Chargers sit atop the AFC West for the first time all season. After beating the Browns 19-10 at the Stubhub Center the Chargers are now in a three-way tie with the Raiders and Chiefs for the division lead after the Chiefs blew an early lead against the Jets and the Raiders beat the Geno Smith-led Giants.

The win over the Browns wasn't the blowout that many expected, but it was a solid win. Philip Rivers followed up his dominant Thanksgiving game with another spectacular outing. He shredded the the Browns defense, throwing for 344 yards and a touchdown on 31/43 passing. Rivers was especially amazing over the middle of the field, going 17/17 on throws over the middle.

He spread the ball around pretty well, with Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, and Travis Benjamin all having big receiving games. Henry had a second straight huge game, catching seven of nine targets for 81 yards. The offensive formula for the Chargers remains clear, when they consistently target Henry, the offense consistently does well.

The offense did a great job moving the ball between the 20s but routinely stall in the redzone. The Chargers got inside the Browns 22-yard line four times in the first half, twice getting inside the five, but settled for field goal attempts all four times. Newly signed kicker Travis Coons made three of those attempts, missing from 38-yards on the opening drive. The Chargers still lack creativity in the redzone and need to start finishing drives. Settling for field goals won't cut it against better competition.

The defense was once again very good. Joey Bosa continued his dominance with three tackles for loss and a crucial strip sack of Deshone Kizer that just about iced the game. Casey Hayward and Trevor Williams continued their lightsout coverage and did a good job of containing the newly returned Josh Gordon, back from a two-year period away from the game. The former all-pro Gordon caught just four of his eleven targets due to the smothering coverage. Rookie Desmond King followed up his great game last week against the Cowboys with another good outing, registering a sack and two tackles for loss. He's been nominated for NFL rookie of the week.

The Chargers' sometimes shaky run defense did a very good job containing the Browns running backs, limiting Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson to just 43 yards on 17 carries. Outside of the one missed kick by Coons, the special teams also played pretty well.

Next up, the Chargers will host the Redskins on Sunday.


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