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USA Today

Justin Herbert has responded with gusto after a so-so start to his 2021 season. Herbert, after throwing more interceptions than touchdown passes in the season's first two games, has thrown seven touchdowns and no interceptions in the Chargers' wins over Kansas City and Las Vegas. Herbert has his work cut out for him this weekend, however, as Myles Garrett and the rest of the Browns' defense looks to knock the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year off of his game. 

Trent Green, a two-time Pro Bowl quarterback and current CBS Sports NFL color analyst, will be covering the action Sunday from SoFi Stadium. Green recently offered his expertise on Sunday's matchup that includes his thoughts on Herbert against the Browns' defense, Baker Mayfield potentially playing through an injury, and the talents of running backs Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt and Austin Ekeler

We'll break down Sunday's game as well as offer a prediction. But first, here's how you can follow the action in real time. 

All NFL odds are via Caesars Sportsbook.

How to watch 

Date: Sunday, Oct. 10 | Time: 4:05 p.m. ET
Location: SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, California)
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)
Follow: CBS Sports App 
Odds: Chargers -2, O/U 47

Preview

News broke Thursday that Mayfield has reportedly been playing through a partially torn labrum that was sustained back in Week 2. It's safe to assume that Mayfield's injury has contributed to his dip in accuracy over the Browns' last two games. Mayfield completed less than 50 percent of his passes in last Sunday's 14-7 road win over the Vikings

Green, who endured several significant injuries during his playing career, understands the challenge Mayfield is currently deal with. 

"It's difficult," said Green, who resumed his career after missing the entire 1999 season with a serious knee injury. "You spend a lot of extra time just trying to get yourself ready. I came back off of major knee surgery, and that first year was exhausting, because you're still trying to manage the whole thing and you are still getting prepared.  

"It's draining mentally and physically because you've having to do two different things. You can't just prepare for an opponent; you're having to manage an injury." 

Mayfield and the Browns' offense will likely lean even more on the league's top-ranked rushing attack that has been led by Chubb and Hunt. Chubb leads the Browns with an average of nearly 91 rushing yards a game. Like Chubb, Hunt has also run for three touchdowns and is also averaging nearly 88 all-purpose yards per game. Unlike previous running back duos, where there was typically a featured back and a third-down back, Green says the Browns' current duo is unique in that they are relatively interchangeable. 

"When you look at Nick Chubb and you look at what Kareem Hunt can do, they both can do everything," Green said. "Now, is Hunt a little bit better of a receiver than Chubb is? Yes. Is he a little bit better in pass protection? Yes. Is Chubb maybe a little bit better on certain runs than Hunt is? Yes. They both have their plusses and minuses, but the thing that's really unique about them is that it doesn't have to just be first-down, second-down, third-down back.

"They both can do everything, and you just of go with the hot hand. … It's a great problem to have if you're the Browns."  

The Chargers have their own unique talent at running back in Ekeler, who scored two touchdowns in Monday night's win over the Raiders. Green, who played with two of the most versatile running backs in league history in Marshall Faulk and Priest Holmes, was asked which of his former teammates reminds him more of Ekeler. 

"I would probably compare him more to Priest," Green said. "It is amazing how strong he is. His strength is incredible. Even though he is small in stature, he is a between the tackle kind of runner. He is an excellent receiver out in space. I would compare him more to Priest, because Priest was similar in stature, did not have a problem going in between the tackles, was good out in space in the screen game and out wide.  

"Marshall was just a unique talent. … Marshall I kind of put into his own category because he was good at both [running and receiving]."  

Both offenses will have their work cut out for them against two of the league's top defenses. The Chargers' defense has allowed just one opponent to surpass 20 points thus far and are currently seventh in the NFL in scoring and fifth in passing. The unit is just 29th in the league in rushing, 23rd on third-down efficiency and 25th in red-zone efficiency. The Browns' defense is fourth in the NFL in scoring and third in both passing and rushing yards allowed. In last week's win over the Vikings, the Browns' defense followed up its dominant performance against rookie Justin Fields and the Bears in Week 3 with an even more impressive outing. Both defenses boast two of the NFL's premier pass rushers in Cleveland's Garrett and Los Angeles' Joey Bosa. As it relates to Garrett, Green says the way he is used within the Browns' defense creates unique challenges for opposing quarterbacks 

"With Myles Garrett, what Joe Woods has done with him is he's played all the spots," Green said. "He's moved everywhere along that line. And Jadeveon Clowney has moved side-to-side and sometimes they will line them next to each other. That presents a set of problems, and then you have [Malik] Jackson in the middle. You've got all these pieces moving around." 

With a defense as good as Cleveland's whether or not Herbert will be able to take advantage of his few opportunities to make a big play may ultimately determine which team will be 4-1 by the end of the day. 

"If I'm Justin Herbert, there are going to be opportunities to take shots down the field," Green said. "You could see the Vikings had a couple of those, but not many; they kept pretty much everything in front of them. But everything I have seen from Herbert, and it's weird to say about a young guy, he does not fall into that trap of trying to force it. He seems like he has done a really good job — especially this season — in managing things. With a guy with that strong of an arm, it's pretty good how he's able to control that." 

Prediction 

Latest Odds: Los Angeles Chargers -2.5

With Mayfield less than 100 percent, the Browns will surely look to give Chubb and Hunt a heavy workload as they look to exploit the Chargers' below-average run defense. If the Browns are able to avoid falling behind early while dictating the tempo of the game, Cleveland is certainly capable of leaving Los Angeles with its fourth straight win. That being said, Mayfield's injury puts significant pressure on the rest of the team. The defense will have to be even better on Sunday than it's been the last two weeks. I don't see that happening on Sunday against a Chargers offense that is flooded with talent. 

Pick: Chargers 19, Browns 16