Looking into #15 – Browns @ Chiefs
Outside of an incredible opening offensive drive, the Cleveland Browns looked miserable on the road last week. They now face the playoff-hopeful and red-hot Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. In another difficult venue, I (once again) give the Browns little hope that they can come in and earn the victory. Regardless I will take a peek into this match up.
Quarterback – The light is starting to come on for Johnny Manziel. He is being smarter in the pocket, getting the ball out quickly, and throwing passes where he needs to. While he is not facing a great defense like the Seahawks – the Browns will go against an opportunistic unit who turns teams over and puts points on the board. Manziel should be able to get at least one score on Sunday; hopefully he avoids giving the ball away to their defense.
Running Back – Being able to utilize Duke Johnson out of the backfield was something to watch last game. I anticipate this will be the norm in this contest; as well as giving the ball to the rookie between the tackles. Isaiah Crowell should have fresh legs against the Chiefs – (he was not used to a great extent last game) and she should still churn out yards. Maybe the threat of Manziel running is actually opening lanes for these backs – why not keep using it (until they get shut down)?
Wide Receiver – The injuries are piling up and apparent – the guys left are doing their best but not scaring any secondary units. Travis Benjamin made a couple nice catches but can still be a downfield threat. Marlon Moore is definitely a special teamer playing offense – he is blocking and running routes as hard as possible, but this position needs athletic guys who can make big plays. Dwayne Bowe even make some catches last week, maybe he can be inspired to have a big day against his former team.
Tight End – Despite being bottled up for most of the game, veteran tight end Gary Barnidge found the end zone last meeting. I would not be surprised to see him surpass the franchise single season record for touchdowns by a tight end – hopefully he can accomplish this on Sunday. I guess we should not anticipate seeing E.J. Bibbs in action once again. Other than a couple of opportunities for Jim Dray, this position group is a one-man wrecking crew.
Offensive Line – Cameron Erving is not having a stellar rookie season. A pair of injuries to guards has forced the Florida State alum into the starting lineup. I would like to think that he can get his act together and help out his teammates, but more than likely Manziel will have to evade defenders rather quickly in the “A and B” gaps. I’m not sure he can overcome this for a majority of the matchup and can see at least three or four sacks for the opponent.
Defensive Line – I fully expect Charcandrick West to breeze through the Cleveland Browns front seven this Sunday. Danny Shelton and Xavier Cooper have both made plays here and there against the run, but neither are consistent enough to shut down the opposition. Randy Starks was at least in the screen a few times last week, but I expect the veteran to disappoint in the game. I would predict that the Browns surrender over 150 yards on the ground.
Linebacker – Armonty Bryant might be playing the best on the outside for the Browns right now. He is doing a moderate job at setting the edge and has been getting to the quarterback at times. Other than that and a few plays by Paul Kruger, the outside linebackers are not playing up to expectations. Chris Kirksey and Karlos Dansby have been asked to make open field tackles, which occur on a frequent basis. However, the duo needs to make “impactful plays” (i.e. forcing fumbles) each game.
Secondary – At this point, it doesn’t really matter who is in a cornerback – the Browns cannot cover their opponent during passing plays. Charles Gaines is at least promising, as the rookie has had a few deflections. But by and large, it’s pitch and catch for the opposition. The safeties have been invisible all season long; I have been really down on Tashaun Gipson and wonder how his play could have fallen off this badly. Jeremy Maclin should have a big game for the Chiefs.
Special Teams: I suppose the Browns somewhat had a respectable game in this department last week. The kick returning game was vastly improved, and if the offense can capitalize with the improved field position – then they might not get blown out. The Browns need to force a turnover by the home team.
Coaching: There’s not really a ton of changes needed for this offense. John DeFlippo has been making he most with his guys and is putting them in spots to succeed. I have to throw my hands up with this defense; I don’t think anything can be done for them to improve. Jim O’Neil is not doing a good job but the same can be said for the play of the guys on the field.
Prediction (My Record: 9 – 5): After the 49ers win, I thought the Browns had a chance to win in Kansas City. However, I’ve come back to my senses and realized that a victory is not possible. The Chiefs win this game 34 – 17.