After an upset victory over the San Diego Chargers in week one's Monday night matchup, Chiefs fans finally have something to be excited about. Their next stop in their quest to return to the playoffs is Cleveland Browns stadium to battle the Browns in Week 2.
It Starts With Heart
The Browns are coming off of a heartbreaking loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1. In typical Cleveland Browns fashion, they let the game slip away in the fourth quarter after leading for most of the game.
If the Browns couldn't hold onto a 14-point lead against the Buccaneers, then I don't see how they'll be able escape Tamba Hali and the Kansas City Chiefs with a victory.
The Chiefs were presented with a great opportunity to revert back to the Chiefs of recent years past and blow the game on the Chargers' last possession. They bent, but they didn't break. On a four-down goal line stand with under a minute to go in regulation, the Chiefs defense denied the Chargers the end zone.
This was a demonstration of discipline and resiliency that the Browns just don't seem to have yet.
Passing The Buck
The quarterback matchup presents another contrast in styles. On one side of the field we have Jake Delhomme of the Browns. He's a crafty veteran who's best days are behind him. He took the Carolina Panthers to Super Bowl XXXVIII, but he hasn't really done much since.
He's coming off of a 2009 campaign that was the worst season of his career, and he didn't fare much better in Week 1 of 2010. He was 20-of-37 for 227 yards. He did have one touchdown, but threw two picks against a Buccaneers team that ranked 26 in passing touchdowns allowed and finished out the year with a 3-13 record in 2009.
On the other side of the field, Matt Cassel is entering his third season as an NFL starter hoping that his best days are ahead of him. He played well with the New England Patriots in 2008, leading the team to 11 wins and throwing for 3,693 yards and 21 touchdowns to only 11 picks.
The 2009 season painted a much different picture of the young QB. His first season with the Chiefs was riddled with frustration ans disappointment. He completed only 55 percent of his passes for a total of 2,969 yards, and his picks mirrored his touchdowns with 16 of each.
He saw heavy pressure and was sacked 42 times last year, but nonetheless looked unremarkable at best. In Week 1 against the Chargers, he didn't look that great either. He went 10-of-22 for only 68 yards, but did throw a touchdown and had no picks in the contest.
The Backfields (RB)
The Browns backfield is quite the question mark. They have a talented young back named Jerome Harrison. He averaged 4.4 yards per carry last year and ran for the bulk of his 896 yards in the last seven weeks of the season.
In Week 1, he averaged 5.8 yards per carry but only ran the ball nine times. RB Peyton Hillis also had nine carries in the game for a total of 42 yards and a touchdown to top it off, but the Buccaneers had the worst defense against the run in the entire league last season. As a team, the Browns only managed 104 rushing yards against a team that bleeds ground gains.
The Chiefs have a two-headed monster in the backfield, running backs Jamaal Charles and newly acquired Thomas Jones, that had a combined 2,522 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2009. Charles is a young back now in his third season in the NFL, and Thomas Jones is in his 11th.
Jones brings the Chiefs a guy who can run in between the tackles consistently and bang out tough yards in short yardage and goal line situations. Charles is a speedy back who stretches the field on sweeps and tosses, and catches the ball well out of the backfield. He is great at making would-be tacklers into would-bes in the open field, and occasionally bangs in the middle. Running up the middle isn't his strong suite, though.
The two Chiefs backs combined for 131 yards in Week 1, and Charles even broke free for a 56-yard TD run. These two K.C. backs seem to complement one another very well.
Catching fire (WR/TE)
The receiver situation is woefully dreadful in Cleveland. Their leading receiver last season was Mohamed Massaquoi. He led the team with 34 catches in 2009. That's not a typo; 34 catches was a team-high. To help him out a bit the team brought in a veteran quarterback's best friend in Ben Watson. This gives Delhomme a big body to throw to, but there's nothing too dangerous here. The danger lies in No. 16, Josh Cribbs.
Cribbs is one of the most versatile players in the league. He literally does it all. He runs back kicks, and on kick coverage he's usually the first guy to hit the opposition's return man. He lines up at quarterback, half back, full back, wide receiver, tight end, and in both the kick return and kick coverage units—sometimes all in the same game. He is listed as a receiver, so I have to put him in this list, but he's more than just a wide receiver.
Massaquoi caught two balls in Week 1 and one of them went for a touchdown on blown coverage down the middle of the field. However, tight end Evan Moore had the best game of all Browns pass catchers with three catches for 87 yards. The Browns also have Chansi Stuckey in the slot.
The Chiefs receiver/tight end situation isn't ideal, but they have potential to perform well in 2010. Fourth year receiver Dwayne Bowe is their No. 1 option, but he had only one catch on Monday night for 13 yards. On the other side of the field is 10-year receiver Chris Chambers, a solid veteran who is a good bailout option down field.
At tight end they have Leonard Pope and Tony Moeaki, another duo of young and old. The team added rookie receiver Dexter McCluster as a playmaker from the slot and in the return game.
None of the guys in this group performed that great offensively in the Week 1 game against the Chargers, but McCluster did have a 94-yard punt return for a score in the second quarter. Bowe and Chambers both started only nine games, but still managed to grab 93 balls for almost 1,200 yards between the two of them. I'm going to make my decision based on potential only, but...
In The Trenches (OL/DL)
The offensive and defensive lines are ultimately where games are won and lost. Neither team's units performed very well last season, so I'm going to compare them purely based on their week one performance.
The Browns offensive unit, led by Joe Thomas, did their job. Jake Delhomme had time to throw and was never sacked in the game against Tampa Bay. They also ran ball respectably, averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
The defensive line did a pretty good job as well. Line captain Shaun Rodgers had his group sucking up blocks, allowing blitzers to get three sacks in the contest. The Buccaneers also ran for four yards per carry flat, which is slightly below the league average.
Kansas City signed right guard Ryan Lilja after he was cut by the Colts to help out in a department that definitely needed help. The offensive line was not spectacular on Monday night, but they did their job respectably. They gave up only one sack, and Matt Cassel was only hit twice apart from that.
The running game yielded a gaudy 5.2 yards per carry, and their weren't a whole lot of plays that were doomed from the start which is a definite improvement from last season. Cassel had an appropriate amount of time to throw the ball most through most of the game.
On the other side of the ball, Chiefs defensive end Glenn Dorsey played his best game as a pro. He was in the San Diego backfield for what seemed to be all night. He gave Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers fits all night and was also solid against the run.
The Chiefs lost their other defensive end, Tyson Jackson to an injury in this game. He'll be out for two to four weeks, but he has never really been a contributor in this defense, and I don't think he'll be missed that much against Cleveland.
The Key Is The D (LB/DB)
There really isn't much to speak of for the Browns in this department. Apart from corners Eric Wright and rookie Joe Haden, They really don't have much else in the way of competent linebackers or defensive backs, unless you count journeyman linebacker Scott Fujita.
The Browns defense broke down in the second half and let the Buccaneers come back and steal a win from the browns in the fourth quarter. Tampa Bay was ranked 30th in total offense last year, and the Browns couldn't hold a 14-point lead on them.
On the other hand, the Chiefs looked very solid on the defensive side of the field. Linebacker Derrick Johnson forced a fumble that led to a Jamaal Charles touchdown. They also drafted stud rookie safety Eric Berry to shut down his side of the field, but he made a rookie mistake and got beat by Antonio Gates for a touchdown across the middle of the end zone.
Outside linebackerTamba Hali was chasing Rivers around and disrupting plays in the backfield all night. He and Glenn Dorsey coming off of the ends is going to be a nightmare for the immobile Jake Dehomme. Look for these two guys to do some serious damage on the defensive side of the ball
Still, this unit hawks the ball all over the field and routinely makes gang tackles in run defense. They also shut down the Chargers on a goal line stand in the final minute of the game that would have tied the game. The stand featured a tackle for a loss, a pass deflection at the goal line, and Glenn Dorsey chasing Rivers out of the pocket. They looked good, and that's better than the Browns looked.
Well, there you have it. I hope that gives you a little more insight on the upcoming matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cleveland Browns. Just like any good preview, I'm going to end this article with a prediction: Chiefs 31, Browns 17.
I look for Dwayne Bowe to have 6 catches for 95 yards and a TD, Thomas Jones to have 12 carries for 52 yards and a TD, and Jamaal Charles to have 82 yards and a TD on 15 carries. Matt Cassel should have a productive day as well: 15-for-25 for 230 yards and two scores.
At any rate, it should be a fun game to watch. I see the Chiefs beating the 49ers next week as well and going 3-0 before their Week 4 bye.
On Sunday, the Chiefs take the next step in a long journey: destination playoffs.