Wait? A week two game is a must win? The Browns are no strangers to 0-1 starts, as the team has had a similar records 10 of the last 11 seasons.
But the Browns reasonably expected to start 2-0. Instead, they are staring down 0-2. Kansas City comes to town for a 1 p.m. Sunday kickoff. The Chiefs (1-0) bring with them mostly fond memories with Dwayne Rudd's helmet toss notwithstanding. Cleveland is 7-2-1 all-time against Kansas City at home and coach Eric Mangini has won all three meetings against the Chiefs as a head coach.
Last December, the Browns beat the Chiefs 40-34 behind Jerome Harrison's performance of 286 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 34 carries. A funny thing happened on the way to a Browns' automatic repeat victory this week, the Chiefs actually looked good last Monday night in a 21-14 home win over San Diego.
Can the Browns win Sunday? Of course. Here are some key areas that could contribute to a victory and ease the fears of another 1-11 start.
Defending The Run: Kansas City has a one-two punch of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones at running back. Jones came to Kansas City last March as a free agent. He's 31, but for five consecutive seasons he has rushed for more than 1,000 yards. Last season, he had career highs in yards rushing (1,402) and touchdowns (14) with the New York Jets.
Meanwhile, Charles burst onto the scene after a less-than-impressive rookie campaign in 2008. Last season, Charles played in 15 games, starting 10, as he finished with 1,120 yards and seven touchdowns on 190 attempts. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry and against Cleveland last December, as he finished with 154 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries.
Last week, the Browns held Tampa Bay to 119 yards rushing and they'll need to do the same in order to force Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel to make plays. Cassel did that last season against the Browns finishing 22-for-40 passing for 331 yards and two touchdowns. Cassel's play against Cleveland was the exception, not the norm.
The Browns revamped secondary looked solid in week one. Sheldon Brown, Eric Wright and Joe Haden made plays — for the most part. Meanwhile, the Browns front seven got quarterback pressure. As for Cassel, he has not impressed Kansas City since coming over from New England after the 2008 season. Last week, the Chiefs won despite Cassel who was 10-for-22 passing for 68 yards with one touchdown.
Not Again Jerome: Jerome Harrison's franchise record-setting performance last season will not be duplicated. OK, maybe, but the chances are slim. The Chiefs defense will be keying on Harrison, who did not look good last Sunday. Against Tampa Bay, Harrison finished with 52 yards rushing on nine carries.
The Chiefs defense, which held San Diego rookie running back Ryan Matthews to 75 yards on 19 carries, will be near the line of scrimmage to slow down the Browns running game. Kansas City's defense has some players in defensive linemen in Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey, linebackers Derrick Johnson, Mike Vrabel and Tamba Hall and rookie free safety Eric Berry.
The Browns established the run in the first half last week against Tampa Bay and can do so again. But if Harrison and Peyton Hillis are ineffective, it brings us to the next point…
Where's the WRs: Mohamed Massaquoi, Brian Robiskie and Josh Cribbs have a chance to have a big game Sunday. All signs point to Seneca Wallace starting at quarterback. Wallace's ability to scramble will extend plays. If the Chiefs load up to stop the run, Massaquoi, Robiskie and Cribbs will have room to operate.
Last week, Massaqoui caught two passes for 46 yards including a 41-yard touchdown pass, but Robiskie was held to one catch for six yards and Cribbs had two grabs for 11 yards.
The Browns receivers were a concern entering this season and they did nothing to quell those fears in week one. Kansas City was torched by San Diego's passing game last Monday, as Philip Rivers finished 22-for-39 passing for 298 yards and two touchdowns.
If the wide receivers are again non-existent, Evan Moore, Ben Watson, Robert Royal and Alex Smith may see favorable matchups. San Diego tight ends caught a combined seven passes for 104 yards and a touchdown.
Keep It To Yourself: Turnovers killed the Browns in the preseason and it didn't end when the games started to count. Last week, ahead 14-3 with less than two minutes remaining in the first half, the Browns took over on their own 47-yard-line.
The Browns reached the Bucs 39-yard-line when Delhomme threw an ill-advised pass that was intercepted. On the next play, Tampa Bay scored to pull within 14-10 at halftime.
Cleveland started the second half with possession and drove 67 yards in seven plays down to the Bucs 15-yard-line before Hillis fumbled.
In all, the Browns fumbled three times, losing one, and threw two interceptions. That's three turnovers. Turnovers prevented the Browns from winning practice games and those must be avoided Sunday if Cleveland is to have any chance to beat Kansas City in a real game, and avoid the dreaded 0-2 start.