Before the season started, this game showed great promise. It was a sequel to last years ‘Dwayne Rudd' bowl game. You remember as Chiefs offensive lineman John Tait was bumbling and stumbling down the sidelines, Rudd removed his helmet, threw it about 20 yards downfield but he did it right in front of the lead referee. He was called for unsportsmanlike penalty and was penalized 15 yards as the Chiefs kicked the game winning field goal and left Cleveland with a 40-39 victory.
Rudd is now in Tampa Bay but the Browns are still imploding without him. Cleveland head coach Butch Davis has lost control of this team. The former Miami Hurricanes head coach is in a quandary. Does he play his guys or the leftovers from the previous coaching staff?
Davis is hell bent on doing it with his guys. He benched the $40 million kid Tim Couch in favor of former back-up quarterback Kelly Holcomb. He benched the Browns most dynamic wide receiver Kevin Johnson in favor of Andre Davis. No nepotism here. They're not related.
All those moves raise eyebrows. The one move that has not had fans screaming for his job was his decision to suspend starting running back William Green. Green spent the bye week adding to his collection of Marijuana and faces criminal proceedings. Davis did the only thing he could do and that was to suspend his second best offensive performer.
As they prepare for the Chiefs, Davis took the week off and had to ponder how in the world he was going to beat Kansas City on the road. Now before you ponder what has to happen for that miracle to transpire, please note the Browns have been one of the better road teams in the NFL the last year and a half. Already this year they've won at San Francisco and Pittsburgh. They gave the Patriots a game in New England so they can play well on the road. They are capable of the upset.
But the merry-go-round at quarterback has cost the Browns any chance to establish the offensive prowess that gave the Chiefs fits in last years game. Holcomb was the starter in that game and he torched the Kansas City secondary for over 300 yards passing and three touchdowns.
Still the Chiefs won the game because the Browns defense gave up 22 points in the fourth quarter. The Browns problems on offense are well noted this season but the defense has been unable to stop the run consistently.
The Ravens Jamal Lewis nearly ran for 300 yards, LaDainian Tomlinson nearly broke 200 yards and now they face Priest Holmes who has yet to have a break out rushing game this season. He might get 200 yards in the first half before he sits out the second half.
The Browns are not without some talent on defense especially defensive end Courtney Brown. He has six sacks but the team has not had consistent linebacker play. Weak side linebacker Ben Taylor leads the team in tackles with 70 but he can't rush the quarterback. Middle linebacker Andra Davis is second with 49 tackles but he too is shooting blanks trying to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
The secondary is not much better but safety Earl Little has picked off three passes. But the Browns don't have the talent at corner to help with the run. The defensive line and linebackers don't get enough pressure on the quarterback and the Browns stand 3-5 on the season largely thanks to a week schedule.
This all plays into the Chiefs hands. After their most impressive win of the season over the Buffalo Bills 38-5, this team is focused, determined and not likely going to take the Browns lightly.
Priest Holmes is rested and ready to exploit the Browns defense. He scored three four touchdowns against them last year and he might get five this week. The Chiefs are so confident this week, that the elevated first round pick Larry Johnson who has been designated to the inactive squad seven out of eight weeks, should see playing time in the second half.
Quarterback Trent Green has put together three solid games back to back. The offensive line played their best game of the season last week and Dante Hall had over 100 yards receiving for the first time this season.
None of that bodes well for the Browns.
Kansas City also learned a valuable lesson last week. After allowing the Raiders to comeback playing a very soft defense, the Chiefs with a bigger lead were aggressive and forced the Bills into seven turnovers. They might not get that many turnovers this week because Holcomb is a smarter quarterback than Drew Bledsoe.
The Chiefs defense might be without starting middle linebacker Mike Maslowski and starting cornerback Eric Warfield. Maslowski did practice on Thursday but Warfield was help out for the second straight game. If Warfield is out then William Bartee will get his first start of the season.
Bartee has been injured but active the last two game. He lost his starting job to Dexter McCleon and he will get an opportunity to play against some very good receivers this week. Besides, Johnson and Davis the Chiefs are all too familiar with Dennis Northcutt. He sliced and diced the Chiefs secondary last year and he's the type of receivers that has always caused the Chiefs problems.
But that was last year and this year even without Warfield, the Chiefs defense is much improved. In eight games they have 27 turnovers and made the plays when they've had to against some of the NFL's best quarterbacks.
The Chiefs should win this game easily and move to 9-0. Vermeil said after giving his players the entire week off during their bye, that the team came back hungry, refreshed and as focused as they've been all year.
If they play like they did against the Bills two weeks ago, the Browns are going to be in for a long day.
* The Browns are only 2-5 this season within the conference. The Chiefs stand 7-0.
* Over the past three years the Chiefs are 1-2 after the bye week and the Browns are 2-1.
* Another glimmer of hope for the Browns is the fact that Browns are 1-0 after losing two consecutive games this season.
* If the Kansas City Chiefs win their ninth game on Sunday, they'll match the same number of consecutive wins to open a season as their parking lot neighbors, the Kansas City Royals. Never in the history of professional sports has two teams located in the same city in the same year each won nine consecutive games to open their respective seasons.
Fearless Prediction: Chiefs 38 – Browns 14
Season Record: 7-1
2003 Game Recaps
Week #8: Chiefs 38 – Bills 5
Week #7: Chiefs 17 – Oakland 10
Week #6: Chiefs 40 – Packers 34 OT
Week #5: Chiefs 24 – Broncos 23
Week #4: Chiefs 17 – Ravens 10
Week #3: Chiefs 42 – Texans 14
Week #2: Chiefs 41 - Steelers 20
Week #1: Chiefs 27 - Chargers 14