Nick Athan: I doubt that's going to happen like it did last year. Jerome Harrison never showed that ability in any of his previous games in 2009. In fact, at one point he was the team's third string running back. The Chiefs won't be surprised this week.
But without Tyson Jackson, and I can't believe I'm even saying this, someone else is going to have step up and support the run. But keep in mind the Browns offensive line played poorly in their opening loss at Tampa Bay, so their play more than anything else will determine who runs over who.
Conor Crawford: I don't think so. The Chiefs' run defense was solid against a running back whom many thought was going to have a solid day (San Diego's Ryan Mathews). Romeo Crennel has definitely pumped new life into the Chiefs' front seven in that they are better in plugging holes against running backs. I'm sure Romeo's going to fire up his guys for this game too since it's going to be homecoming for him in Cleveland.
Michael Ash: No, the Chiefs won't get gashed by the run like they did last year. That's really not much of a prediction, since it would take another historic rushing day from the Browns to match last year's effort. But I don't expect them to have anywhere near that kind of success this time around.
The question is a bit trickier if Seneca Wallace gets the start, since he's capable of adding rushing yards from the quarterback position. But Cleveland's passing offense isn't much to speak of, so I imagine Crennel's two big areas of focus this week were stopping the run and defending the wildcat, which Cleveland uses with Josh Cribbs. Working on the latter should ideally help the Chiefs prepare for what a mobile QB can bring to the Browns' offense.
Who would you rather see the Chiefs face this week: Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace?
Nick Athan: I don't care which quarterback plays, to be honest with you. The Chiefs probably will use Derrick Johnson as a shadow for Wallace. Crennel did that often at New England when he was facing a run first, pass second quarterback.
Seneca Wallace gets the nod over Jake Delhomme on Sunday against the Chiefs.
Delhomme isn't all that impressive to me. And if you heard our Podcast this week with Barry McBride of the OBR, he mentioned that this team isn't likely going to have a productive quarterback until they draft one next April.
Conor Crawford: I would rather the Chiefs play against Delhomme because he has definitely fallen apart in the past couple seasons. He's not the Super Bowl caliber quarterback from years ago.
However, it appears that Seneca Wallace will get the starting nod, and he was a solid quarterback for the Seahawks that wouldn't necessarily have Pro Bowl numbers but would do what was necessary in order to make his team win. Either way, the Browns' talent at quarterback is only mediocre to average, but Delhomme would have been an easier opponent rather than Wallace.
Michael Ash: I would much rather face Delhomme, even if he was healthy. He's become a turnover machine over the past year or so, which only continued last week when he threw two picks against the Bucs.
Frankly, Wallace worries me. People can dismiss him as a career backup, but one of the first things Mike Holmgren did when he went to Cleveland was bring in Wallace via trade, which shows the level of confidence he has in him. And Wallace brings an entirely new dimension to the Browns' offense. The Chiefs have enough trouble bringing down the QB, they don't need to face a guy who can escape from trouble, run around, and make things happen.
And given how uninspiring Delhomme looked a week ago, Wallace could be playing with extra motivation. If he wins, he could make a case to be the Browns' full-time starter. He's going to be fired up and he's going to make things harder on the Chiefs' defense. I'm hoping Delhomme makes a miraculous recovery.
How many touchdowns will we score on special teams this season?
Nick Athan: I'd expect the Chiefs would likely set a team record for returns in 2010. The Chargers gave the Chiefs ten chances and the team converted one of them into a touchdown. So I'd say that's an acceptable result with both Arenas and McCluster alternating opportunities. If the defense can stop teams, those odds might increase.
McCluster has the potential to break all of Dante Hall's records this year.
Conor Crawford: I'm going to set the number low and say only about 5. They won't all be from Dexter McCluster or Javier Arenas, but I expect possibly one blocked punt returned for a touchdown. I set the number low because it would be foolish to say that the special teamers will run over everybody because eventually teams are going to find out how to stop Dexter and Javier.
Michael Ash: I agree with Conor, five is a good number. I think teams will figure out fairly quickly that it's not in their best interest to give Arenas or McCluster a chance at a return, so we'll probably see more directional kickoffs and punts going out of bounds. But I could still see maybe two or three more return touchdowns during the season.
And over the past few years, the Chiefs have scored on special teams in other ways, like a blocked punt or the other team's miscues. So factor in something like that happening and we get to five.
If Matt Cassel never comes around, who deserves the blame: Cassel himself or the coaches for not helping him improve? And is there any chance that they could go to Brodie Croyle if Cassel struggles?
After the bye week if Cassel is still ineffective, Croyle get another chance.
Nick Athan: Cassel is going to be given every opportunity to be the guy. I can't see Charlie Weis pulling the hook at any point before the Bye week. But if the Chiefs go 0-2 over the next couple of games, it could be an interesting turn of events when the Chiefs travel to Indy the second Sunday in October. As far as blame, this is the quarterback that they inherited from Scott Pioli. Thus the blame if there is any at seasons end, will fall on the GM.
Conor Crawford: It's tough to blame the coaches if Cassel fails to come around this season, but at the same time, these are the coaches who are in charge of whether or not he should play and if Brodie Croyle should take his place. It would be a shame to see them play Cassel simply because they don't want a multi-million dollar quarterback sitting on the bench. The coaches need to play who performs best, and while Croyle himself has struggled in the past, the fact remains that Cassel has won games as a starting quarterback and Croyle has not.
The coaches limited Cassel in the game against San Diego because the weather forced them to play conservatively, but I'm sure there won't be harsh weather conditions in the upcoming games against Cleveland and San Francisco. Eventually, he's going to have to pass down the field and take chances in order to lead his team to victory and remain the quarterback for this season.
Meanwhile, I don't see Croyle taking over the starting job, because no matter what, this team is built around the running game. They just need somebody to hand the ball off to Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles, and occasionally dump it off to a receiver. It's a very bland offense so far, and it doesn't matter who leads them.
Michael Ash: I don't see Croyle playing unless Cassel is injured. Maybe if they're competing for a playoff spot late in the year and Cassel is clearly holding the team back, then perhaps he'll get pulled. But that's about the only scenario where I can see it happening.
If Cassel never comes through, the blame ultimately goes to Pioli. He had years to evaluate Cassel in New England and he's the one who traded for him. I know there's been some talk lately of "what other options did Pioli have?", mainly citing the fact that Mark Sanchez isn't quite looking like people expected he would at this point. But I think it's premature on both sides to be drawing any of those conclusions.
Say we lose to Cleveland. Does that mean Monday night was a fluke? Does it mean the Chiefs are still a bottom-feeding team?
Nick Athan: Stop the negativity. The Chiefs are not bottom feeders anymore. If they lost to Cleveland and won at home against San Francisco, name ONE fan that won't be jumping for joy that they'll be standing 2-1 heading into the bye week. This team isn't the same and I don't see a collapse on Sunday. Now they might not win, but they'll fight until the end.
If the Chiefs can stop Browns running back Jerome Harrison, they should win.
Conor Crawford: It won't mean it's a fluke because Cleveland has shown that they're not pushovers either. Last season, the Chiefs overlooked Cleveland and got embarrassed. This season, they shouldn't overlook them again or else Jerome Harrison will have another field day.
The Chiefs beat the Chargers on national television and their defense suffocated Philip Rivers until the very last play. When you beat the four-time defending divisional champion, it's not a fluke. A win is a win regardless of the score. The Chiefs are on the upswing, and I won't go so far as to say that they'll beat Cleveland because this is one of those games which they could very well fall apart in. I will however say that the Chiefs are definitely not going to lose 12 games again this season, and the game against San Diego proves that.
Michael Ash: That's certainly how it will be seen nationally. Monday night was a good win, but given the game conditions and the atmosphere created by the rare appearance on national TV, the victory hasn't exactly caused a stampede of people to come out and declare that the Chiefs are back.
The simple truth is this: if the Chiefs follow up Monday's win with a loss to Cleveland, nobody is going to take them seriously. They'll be seen as a mediocre team that might have a chance to compete in a lousy division. Going out the following week and beating the 49ers, who are practically falling apart at the seams, isn't going to change that. If they want to show the world that things have changed in Kansas City, this is their week to make a statement.
In many ways, this game is just as important as Monday night's was. Since they fell apart halfway through the 2007 season, just once have the Chiefs managed to get a win two weeks in a row. And each time they won a game that we thought might have been the turning point – against Denver in 2008, against Pittsburgh last year – they threw cold water in our faces by failing to carry it over to their next game.
If they are truly on their way back to respectability, this is a game they have to win.