Campbell's Keys: Chiefs @ Browns

Is this a trap game for the Chiefs and are the Browns better than advertised? Can the Chiefs win a road game in December? Which two Cleveland players pose the most danger to the Chiefs on offense and defense? We discuss these topics and many more in this week's edition of "Campbell's Keys."

For those of you who listened to this week's podcast, you heard me say this game between the Chiefs and the Browns shouldn't be close. Why? Because there are two fundamental ingredients in winning football games: running the ball and stopping the run. Both of those requirements happen to be areas where the Chiefs consistently excel while the Browns are sitting near the bottom of the league in both categories.

In order to keep this game close, you can rest assured that Browns head coach Romeo Crennel will do everything in his power to try and stop Larry Johnson on Sunday. This will undoubtedly mean the Chiefs offense will face a lot of eight-man fronts from the Browns. They can counter with "big" formations (two tight ends and short yardage) in order to outmuscle Cleveland's smaller 3-4 alignment. When aligning in their big formations against eight-man fronts the Chiefs need to make sure to utilize Kris Wilson and Tony Gonzalez in the passing game to exploit the single-deep coverage and the openings it will create in the seams.

When the Browns set up in an eight-man front the Chiefs also need to pay special attention to Cleveland's cornerbacks. This is especially true on the left side. After losing Daylon McCutcheon early in the season the Browns replaced him in the lineup with Leigh Bodden, but now Bodden too is being plagued by an ankle injury. There should be times in Sunday's game where the Chiefs have single coverage on their flanker by a fourth-string corner that has no deep help from the safety. If and when this happens, Trent Green has to be able to check down and exploit it (knowing Green he surely will).

Keys:

I know that I say this every time the Chiefs play a 3-4 defense but a lot of the Chiefs success running the ball will hinge on Casey Wiegmann's ability to block nose tackle Ted Washington. Larry Johnson will find it hard to see daylight if Wiegmann is getting pushed five yards into the backfield (With Washington five years past his prime however I'm going to give the edge to Casey).

Quarterback Charlie Frye has increasingly struggled the past few weeks. If the Chiefs want to win they need to keep him struggling. The best way to do this is to keep Frye under pressure but this will require Tamba Hali has to outplay right tackle Kelly Butler (Butler has replaced Ryan Tucker in the lineup after Tucker was placed on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury List this Friday). Hali hasn't been quite as effective since suffering a hip pointer and the Chiefs are heading in to a stretch where they need him badly. If Hali isn't creating havoc from the left side of the defense then the offense can slide their protection towards Jared Allen and negate the pass rush. Without pressure from both end positions or the defensive line in general, the cover two defense quickly becomes a sinking ship.

Staying on the subject of Frye, a struggling quarterback has never had a better friend than a good tight end. Kellen Winslow Jr. definitely falls in to the category of "good." He'll surely be "great" when it's all said and done. Currently, Winslow leads the Browns in yards and receptions and that tells me that he's usually Frye's first look whenever he drops back. With that being said, if there's a single player on the Browns offense Kansas City has to stop it has to be Winslow.

Reuben Droughns was on top of the world as a Denver Bronco but those days of success are long gone now that he's with the Browns. His 155 carries for 476 yards is a far cry from what he had become accustomed to in the Mile High City. The Chiefs front seven will need to keep it that way so the Browns remain a one-sided offense. Take Droughns out of the game plan and force Frye to beat you with his arm.

INJURY REPORT:



KANSAS CITY (7-4)

OUT

DT James Reed - Groin

T Kevin Sampson - Back

QUESTIONABLE

OLB Derrick Johnson - Ankle

PROBABLE

TE Tony Gonzalez - Shoulder

CLEVELAND (3-8)

OUT

DE Orpheus Roye - Knee

QUESTIONABLE

CB Leigh Bodden - Ankle

DE Nick Eason - Ankle

FS Justin Hamilton - Back

ILB Mason Unck - Groin

PROBABLE

RB Reuben Droughns - Foot

OLB Willie McGinest - Pectoral

FS Brian Russell - Elbow

TE Kellen Winslow - Knee

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