The NFL season is one battle after the next and, though this Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns may be one of the easiet ones on the schedule, within each battle there are challenges. Jerome Harrison and Josh Cribbs did enough damage in last year’s contest to warrant the devotion of a good amount of practice time so they can prevent these guys from running all over the Kansas City Chiefs again.
I think the Chiefs have the players to emulate what the Browns can do and they will be prepared for the Browns this time. With Seneca Wallace likely to start for the Browns on Sunday, they are probably going to throw a lot of Wildcat plays at the Chiefs but that strategy will only be effective if they break some big plays. The Wildcat is a gimmick that shouldn’t work on a real NFL defense and I think the Chiefs’ defense finally fits that description. If the Browns are inclined to start Jake Delhomme, that would be fine too but they probably know better than to do that.
I think the defensive line is up to the challenge of stopping the run. While Glenn Dorsey should be the main run stopper, Tyson Jackson, questionable for Sunday, may be missed if he doesn’t play. I think Shaun Smith will be up to the task and perhaps Alex Magee can show he can play in this league. The Browns will run the ball throughout the game but I think the Chiefs defense will do all they can to prevent allowing Jerome Harrison to do his Jim Brown impression again. Seneca Wallace will be hard to sack but if they can put pressure on him and prevent him from snatching first downs, he won’t beat the Chiefs.
While the forecast says that rain is possible in Cleveland on Sunday, Matt Cassel had better be ready to make better throws this time around. I am of the mind that the rain in Kansas City on Monday was substantial enough to make throwing the football more difficult no matter what Trent Dilfer says. That doesn’t mean that I was pleased with Cassel’s performance or the game plan but the end result of favoring the run for the purposes of protecting the ball was a win so I won’t mark myself down for any lingering objections. Cassel, who I am sure is eager to shed a Steve Bono comparison (or would be if he doesn’t read Pro Football Weekly, should be allowed to lead some real NFL offensive drives against this Browns team. I don’t think he will own the Browns’ secondary but he is capable of playing as well as he did last time the Chiefs faced the Browns (with a few more completions this time). The running backs will likely do their share and the Chiefs will put up some points against the Browns. It’s time for Matt to get an honest shake and it’s time for him to do something with it.
I think the Chiefs will come away with a win in the Dawg Pound. I don’t think the Chiefs run away with the game but I also don’t think that the Chiefs belong on the same tier as the Browns anymore. That doesn’t mean that the Chiefs should win because there are few locks on the road in the NFL. The Chiefs will not gain much respect with a win this Sunday but a loss would complete the multi-season sweep and it would nullify anything the Chiefs gained from the win on Monday night. A loss wouldn’t be the end of the season but it would indicate that the Chiefs may have an uphill battle to get to 8-8.
Update, Gameday 9:20 am: Josh Looney confirms that Tyson Jackson and Ryan O’Callaghan are out for today’s game.
Update 2, Gameday, 11:40 am: Josh Looney also says that McGraw, Cox and O\’Connell are inactive. Since Jon McGraw wasn’t on the injury report, either McGraw got hurt in Friday’s practice or he has been deemed worse than Reshard Langford. Probably the former. Big day for Kendrick Lewis indeed.
Also, Jake Delhomme is inactive and Seneca Wallace will start for the Browns.