Jake Delhomme led the Browns into Tampa Bay last week surrounded by thousands of watchful eyes. Delhomme was making his first start as a member of a Browns team that had performed below average during each of its last three seasons and was coming off what was considered its most busy off-season in recent memory.
One football game later, Delhomme left Tampa with an injured ankle, and the Browns headed back to Cleveland with yet another opening day loss.
It is hard to determine the direction that the Browns offense will go in this week. Jerome Harrison and Peyton Hillis both had opportunities to make plays in week one and despite Hillis' touchdown, neither were very impressive.
Another thing that will have to be accounted for is the health of Jake Delhomme. Delhomme had a very solid first half in week one but his performance took a very sharp turn south after a poor decision that led to a to a Tampa interception and touchdown. Delhomme's ankle was twisted on the play and he did not appear comfortable for the rest of the game as he even hopped around on one foot after a few of his throws. Delhomme has not yet practiced this week and according to Eric Mangini "it’s day to day" in terms of when he may return to the field.
If Delhomme can’t go, the mobile quarterback, Seneca Wallace, will get the nod. Wallace started 14 games over seven seasons in Seattle, including two last season. Over the course of his career, Wallace has thrown for 25 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and 3,538 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Cleveland showed some positive things in week one that they will try to build on in week two. Rookies, T.J. Ward and Joe Haden, looked very good at times and looked like rookies in others as Tampa quarterback, Josh Freeman, passed for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
Ward was overall the more impressive of the two as he compiled a team-high 11 tackles.
Key Player(s): Jerome Harrison
Jerome Harrison basically did not show up for the Browns week one contest in Tampa. That not only made the role of Peyton Hillis more daunting but also hindered the play calling of the Browns offense when Jake Delhomme was injured. Harrison had a career day last year against Kansas City when he rushed for 286 yards in the midst of the Browns end-of-the-year winning streak. It is unfair to expect Harrison to break through for nearly 300 yards again against the Chiefs but the Browns desperately need him to make his presence felt early and often. If Harrison struggles the team will be forced to used Hillis more in the rushing game or give James Davis some opportunities.
The Chiefs managed to shock the world in week one by taking down the San Diego Chargers.
Kansas City used a great duo of running backs to their advantage, splitting carries between Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones. Both Jones and Charles had 11 carries on the day for 39 and 92 yards respectively while Charles picked up a 56-yard touchdown.
Dexter McCluster was also a big factor in the Chiefs week one win after breaking a team record 94-yard touchdown punt return before the end of the first half.
One of the sore spots for Kansas City was the play of Matt Cassel. Cassel battled an absolute downpour for most of the game and it was evident that it effected his ability to move the ball. Cassel connected on only 10 of 22 pass attempts but did managed to score on a 2-yard strike to Tony Moeaki.
I don't expect the Chiefs gameplan for Cleveland to be much different from the way they handled San Diego.
Cassel and the offense will more than likely make it a point to challenge the young secondary of the Browns and also continue to split carries between Jones and Charles. If the running game proves to be more successful than the passing attack, I expect to see Charles get the bulk of the carries.
Defensively, Kansas City should also have a little more of a spark than usual as defensive coordinator, Romeo Crennel, will make his first return to Cleveland since he was fired in 2008. Crennel spent four seasons at the helm of the Browns but that will not play much into his game plan. The Browns are a completely different team from that in which he left two years ago. Crennel also has to prepare his defense to compete against two potential starting quarterbacks, Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace.
Kansas City used their special teams as a very large part in their Monday night win in Arrowhead. Expect special teams to be equally important this week as McCluster will be returning kicks and the defensive unit will be forced to account for Josh Cribbs.
Key Player(s)- Eric Berry
Berry will get his opportunity to showcase why he was a first round selection this week in Cleveland. The Browns quarterback situation is up in the air and will more than likely remain so until Sunday. This means that the Kansas City secondary will either be matched up against a quarterback that has not practiced all week or a back-up. Cleveland also does not have the best receiving corps on paper which should give Kansas City room to take chances and give Berry opportunities to make some plays.
The Browns and Chiefs game was one of the more memorable contests last season for both teams. Kansas City has not forgotten the way Cleveland rushed the ball all over them and the Browns are well aware of the way the Chiefs handled the Chargers in week one. Even though Kansas City is riding high after their big win, I feel Cleveland needs this game a lot more than the Chiefs do and that will propel them to victory.
Kansas City 10