Welp, the excitement from last week’s installment—at least from this reporter—is somewhat lessened following the Browns down-own-leg-urination in the second half on Sunday against Tampa Bay. But, it’s still the home opener. That’s gotta count for something, right? RIGHT?
Back in the pre-season, I had circled this game as a winnable one. After the meltdown against the Bucs combined with KC’s big win over the Chargers, that’s looking much less the case now. It’s important to remember that the Chiefs put up 34 points on the Browns back in December, and put up 491 total yards in the process. So, can the Browns tighten up? Can they keep from killing themselves with turnovers just once? Without further ado…
The Browns Will Win If…
Craig: …they can score against the Chiefs. I think the Browns defense will play well enough to win again this week. I think the Browns will be ready for the Chiefs’ special teams attack and will be extra careful with McCluster. Still after seeing the KC defense torture the Chargers a week ago, it is hard to have much confidence going in, no matter who is playing quarterback for the Browns. Regardless, the Browns will need to strike early before the Chiefs defense has a chance to build on the confidence they built a week ago. Again, I am worried about the right side of the offensive line this week.
Scott: …they do what they needed to do last week to win. Control the football with the run game and win the battle of the turnovers. If Mike Adams intercepts an errant Matt Cassel pass, the Browns need to capitalize on this instead of not throwing one of their own. They’ll need the defense to avoid the big plays – Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster are lethal, but this is the same defense that has had to defend Jerome Harrison and Joshua Cribbs all through training camp – there are no excuses. I’m not quite sure what to expect from Seneca Wallace under center, but I would assume that we would be rolling with more of a WCO-type offense this week. Weather may be a bit tricky as its calling for rain – something that doesn’t always bode well for short, quick passes – but it will be a different style game than we have seen to this point in the Eric Mangini era. That may not exactly be a bad thing.
DP: …they don’t shoot themselves in the foot, honestly. Lost in the post-game gnashing of teeth on Sunday was the fact that the Browns were pretty much man-handling the Bucs until they started shooting themselves in both feet. In short, the Browns are better than they were last year, but not yet good enough to overcome killer mistakes. I’d like to see Jerome Harrison get more touches, and I’d like to see more of a concerted effort to grind the game out on the ground; I have to again point out that the Browns ran the ball 49 times for 7.2 yards a crack in December against KC. The Chiefs have some weapons of their own (let’s not forget what Jamaal Charles did to the Browns last year) and keeping them off the field is still the best game plan in my eyes. If the Browns can get ahead and make the Chiefs have to be a passing team, I like Cleveland’s chances on Sunday even in spite of how much passing the Chiefs threw at them last season.
Rick: …they take care of the ball and control the line o scrimmage. That second part will be much tougher this year than last. KC’s defense looks much improved and will be focused on taking away the run. The Browns will have to pass to set up the run.
Andrew: …they have any heart. The Browns need to show us what kind of mental strength they have and whether or not they can be the kind of team who bounces back from a tough loss and plays well the next week. The Browns played well enough in spurts last week to win, and this week they need to focus on putting it all together and playing a more complete game from beginning to end. I’ve been saying it all year, too, and I’ll keep saying it…we need to see more Jerome Harrison. The Browns need to give him enough carries to develop a rhythm and get into the feel of the running game. The way the Browns used both Harrison and Hillis last week didn’t do either guys any favors. If the Browns are going to beat KC, it’s going to have to be on the strength of their running game and not on Seneca Wallace’s arm.
TD: …they keep it simple. Jake Delhomme or not, I’d like to see a return to the commitment of the running game. If its Seneca Wallace as I think it will be at QB, the offense should feature a lot of the Wildcat/Cyclone package, and a lot of Jerome Harrison and Peyton Hillis. Defensively, you can bet the Browns will see a lot more of speed merchants Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster, who were criminally underused in the Chiefs Monday night win over San Diego. I expect Rob Ryan to blitz average at best QB Matt Cassel and to stack the line to stop the run. The Chiefs, like the Browns, lack a true #1 WR and have a solid running game with Charles and Thomas Jones.
Now, for the other side of the coin. We reached out to a few Kansas City Chiefs bloggers, and the brothers at Arrowhead Pride were kind enough to take us up on the offer. Arrowhead Pride is run by Joel and Chris Thorman. Joel is the much slimmer, more handsome brother. Without further ado…
The Chiefs Will Win If…
…they don’t turn the ball over. Simply winning the turnover battle is a must for this team. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, the offense just isn’t very good so they can’t be expected to come back against anyone. The strength of the Chiefs offense is the run game and that’s not conducive to coming from behind. Second, they need to create turnovers to give their offense a shorter field. The Chiefs run game is solid but that passing game at this point can’t be expected to take them on 80+ yard drives.
The Chiefs defense needs to continue playing solid but I think what they need to do most is not make those killer mistakes they always seem to make — Jerome Harrison knows what I’m talkin’ about. Basically, they have to show some semblance of a run defense and make the Browns go the length of the field every time without 30 and 40 yard passes attached to the drives. The defense — particularly the secondary — is much improved so they need to give the Browns more opportunities to make mistakes instead of four-play touchdown drives.
They’ll also need to production from their special teams. The Chiefs added Dexter McCluster (touchdown return last week) and Javier Arenas (24 and 36-yard punt returns last week). They’re both rookies so we’re still trying to figure out exactly what they can do but early results say they’re both very dangerous.
Bottom line, the Chiefs can’t turn the ball over, can’t allow the Browns to have three and four play touchdown drives and will need to benefit from their youngsters on special teams.
What say, there, fuzzy britches?