Time: 1:00 pm, Saturday, December 20, 2009
Location: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri.
Network, Announcers: CBS- Ian Eagle and Rich Gannon.
Line: Chiefs by two.
Team W/L Records: Cleveland is 2-11; Kansas City is 3-10.
Coaches: Eric Mangini is 25-36 overall, 2-11 with the Browns; Todd Haley is 3-10 in his first year with the Chiefs.
Last Week for the Browns: After six years and twelve consecutive losses, the Browns finally defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, sacking Ben Roethlisberger eight times and hammering the Pittsburgh defense for 171 rushing yards in the 13-6 win.
Last Week for the Chiefs: Lost at home to Buffalo despite out-gaining the Bills 354-273. Four interceptions by Matt Cassel helped negate a brilliant afternoon for Jamaal Charles, who rushed for 143 yards, including a 76-yard touchdown sprint.
All-Time Series: Tied, 9-9-2
Last Meeting- December 3, 2006: Then-backup quarterback Derek Anderson relieved an injured Charlie Frye and led a dramatic second-half comeback to erase a 28-14 fourth-quarter deficit. DA twice hit Steve Heiden for touchdowns to tie the score and force overtime and set up Phil Dawson's game-winning field goal with a 33-yard scramble in the extra session.
Out or Questionable for Kansas City: G Brian Waters (hamstring) is doubtful; DE Wallace Gilberry (back), DE Glenn Dorsey (knee), S Jon McGraw (hand) and RB Dantrell Savage (ankle) are questionable.
Out or Questionable for Cleveland: S Raymond Ventrone (finger) is doubtful; DE Kenyon Coleman (knee) and DE Robaire Smith (groin) are questionable.
What to watch for the Chiefs: Kansas City hasn't been good in any phase of the game. But the real bugaboo for the Chiefs, at least recently, has been turnovers. Kansas City's offense has given the ball away eleven times in its last three games, all losses; four in a 43-14 loss to the Chargers, three in a 44-13 loss to the Broncos, and four more in last week's 16-10 loss to Buffalo.
Now the Chiefs face a Cleveland team that, for all its other problems, has taken very good care of the football in recent weeks. Thanks in large part to Brady Quinn, who has excelled in avoiding interceptions the Browns have just one turnover in their last four games. Although he did fumble deep in San Diego territory in Cleveland's loss to the Chargers two weeks ago, Quinn hasn't thrown an interception since the loss to Baltimore on November 16th and has made 144 consecutive pass attempts without a pick.
It's fair to assume that Quinn and the offense will once again take good care of the football in Kansas City. The Chiefs must find a way to do the same if they want to avoid their fourth consecutive loss, and their second straight at home to a weak opponent.
What to watch for the Browns: How will this football team handle its sudden prosperity? The Browns got their biggest win in a long time last week when they knocked off Pittsburgh, their first home win over the Steelers since 2000. They have a golden opportunity for their first winning streak of any length since 2007 when they meet up with the Chiefs, who are having a miserable season under first-year head coach Todd Haley. Kansas City is bad- 30th in the NFL in both total offense and total defense, 28th in points scored, 29th in points allowed. The Chiefs have allowed 43 sacks, second-most in the NFL, have scored just four rushing touchdowns (tied for last with, among others, the Browns) and defensively have allowed more than 400 yards five times in the last seven weeks. Since the beginning of the 2007 season Kansas City has an aggregate record of 9-36. They suck, to put it inartistically.
Cleveland beat Pittsburgh last week by running the football effectively, by getting to Ben Roethlisberger and, most importantly, playing with energy and a desire we haven't seen from a Browns team in a long time. The challenge for Eric Mangini and his staff, beyond strategy, is to maintain that enthusiasm against a vulnerable opponent. Other than perhaps the Buffalo game- which the Browns won- this is the only time Cleveland has played an opponent at the same level in terms of talent and performance.
What's more, next week's game is against the Raiders at home. Handle business in Kansas City and an opportunity for a three-game winning streak and a positive conclusion to a very difficult season will be at hand. Lose to the Chiefs, and much of the positive energy created by the win over the Steelers will be dissipated. The chance for a rebirth is right there. Can the Browns carry it to conception?
And of course, there's the matter of Randy Lerner's interview of Mike Holmgren this week. With a "czar," be it Holmgren or someone else, coming into oversee operations Mangini might be duck soup regardless of how the rest of the season plays out. But winning some games down the stretch certainly won't hurt his chances of surviving the transition.
On Chris Henry: As you obviously know, the oft-troubled Bengals wide receiver died on Thursday of injuries incurred when he was thrown out of the back of a moving vehicle during a dispute with his fiancée.
Let me make this clear, straight off: I don't have a terribly high regard for a lot of the things Chris Henry did with his life. He was handed a genetic winning lottery ticket and did just about everything possible to flush it down the toilet. He did a lot of dumb things, climaxing with his decision to climb into the bed of a moving truck this past Wednesday; the action that would lead to his death. If he was out of football and pumping gas at 35, I wouldn't have a whole lot of sympathy for him.
But he wasn't Ted Bundy, either. He was a young guy who made a lot of mistakes, some of which were destructive to others, most of which were destructive only to him. That didn't make him evil; didn't make him a monster. That type exists; they make documentaries about them on Court TV. They don't deserve sympathy, because in a fundamental way they aren't human at all. Chris Henry wasn't one of those types. He was human; eminently flawed, not of the soundest judgment, but human. He didn't deserve to die at 26. He is entitled to some decency in death, as a human being, the same decency 99.9 percent of us will deserve when our time comes. And we ought to show him that decency, if not for him, then for ourselves. When we don't show it, we forfeit a little of our own humanity.
I feel for the young man and his children. Hopefully he finds a measure of the peace that evaded him in life.
Good Past Win over the Chiefs- September 9, 1979: The Kardiac Kids were in full effect in Week Two of the '79 season, blowing a 20-0 third-quarter lead before rallying to top the Chiefs 27-24 on Brian Sipe's 21-yard strike to Reggie Rucker with 52 seconds to play. Sipe threw for 243 yards and three touchdowns for the Browns, who completely dominated the game until falling asleep midway through the third quarter. The win was Cleveland's first-ever in Kansas City after three losses and a tie.
Bad Past Loss to the Chiefs- September 30, 1990: This was the game that opened the eyes of Browns fans to just how terrible the 1990 version of their team was. Marty Schottenheimer's opportunistic Chiefs dropped Cleveland to 1-3 on the season with a 34-0 shellacking. Out-gained 270-259, Kansas City capitalized on three Cleveland turnovers and two touchdowns off blocked punts. Not content with the pole-axing his team had handed the Browns, Chiefs receiver Stephone Paige rubbed it in further. "They had a great thing in Cleveland," he said, speaking of Schottenheimer, "and they let him go." The truth hurts.
Next Week for Both Teams: Cleveland hosts Oakland; Kansas City is at Cincinnati.
Trivia: The 10-10 tie between the Browns and Chiefs on November 19, 1989, was the last deadlock to date for both teams.