1. The Browns need to be creative covering former Kent State basketball star Antonio Gates, whose 23.7-yard receiving average against the Browns is his highest against a single opponent. Not only is the perennial Pro Bowler a constant threat, the Chargers had the added luxury of a bye week to prepare for the Browns and to get creative with ways to get the ball to Gates, whose 51 career touchdowns from quarterback Philip Rivers are the most in NFL history between a quarterback and tight end.
2. Rivers also has had plenty of success against the Browns. He’s 2-0 as a starter against the Browns, completing 69.8 percent of his passes for 584 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 118.8 passer rating. But Rivers is coming off a game in which he threw four interceptions and the Chargers blew a 24-point lead in a loss to the Broncos. He has nine interceptions and 10 touchdowns this season.
3. The Chargers are second in the NFL in run defense, holding opponents to an average of 71.2 yards per game. The highest rushing total the Chargers have yielded in a game this season is 119 yards. With rookie running back Trent Richardson still nursing a rib injury that limited him to eight carries last week, backup Montario Hardesty might again need to step in.
4. The Chargers are as tough as they come against the run but have had trouble defending the pass. They rank 25th in the NFL and allow 268.2 passing yards per game. That means the Browns could look to throw more. Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden leads all rookies in passing yards (1,783), passing touchdowns (nine) and completions of 20-plus yards (25). He has also thrown for at least two touchdowns in his past three games.
5. The Chargers have turned the ball over eight times in their past two games. The Browns have 15 takeaways through the first seven games (tied for sixth in the league). The turnover battle could be an equalizer for the Browns.