The Kansas City Chiefs will look to stay perfect Sunday against the struggling Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead Stadium. The game will be the third straight at home for the Chiefs and second against a team without their starting quarterback.
Last week it was the Houston Texans coming to town and with QB Matt Schaub sidelined, it was third-string signal caller Case Keenum making his debut against the Chiefs. Now it’s a Cleveland team that lost starter Brian Hoyer for the season and have went from Brandon Weeden to Jason Campbell to try and fill in.
Campbell is no stranger to the Chiefs, having spent two seasons with the Oakland Raiders. During his career the veteran has played the Chiefs three times, racking up a record of 2-1, including 1-0 at Arrowhead.
While the Browns deal with issues at quarterback and other injuries across the roster, the Chiefs will take the field Sunday nearly completely healthy. Even WR Dwayne Bowe and S Kendrick Lewis, both listed as questionable on the final injury report, are expected to suit up for Kansas City.
Both teams will try to ride stout defenses to victory, with the Chiefs and Browns ranking fifth and seventh in yards allowed, respectively. The two main differences between these teams is in pass rush and points allowed.
Cleveland is giving up just over 22 points a game, which puts them in the middle of the pack while the Kansas City defense surrenders a league-best 11.3 per game.
Then, of course, there is the Chiefs non-stop pass rush, which has already taken down opposing quarterbacks 35 times. The ferocious pressure on the quarterback along with the Browns having already giving up 27 sacks could make for a long day at the office for Campbell.
For the Chiefs to stay perfect at the midway point, here are the players that will need to step up.
Offense: Donnie Avery
WR Dwayne Bowe has yet to have a huge impact on the Chiefs perfect season and that was with him lining up every week completely healthy. This week, even if he suits up it won’t be at 100 percent. That should open up the door even wider for Avery.
The speedster has already turned himself into one of QB Alex Smith’s favorite targets. Only RB Jamaal Charles and Bowe have more catches than Avery and no one has more yards in the air.
Avery has already put up games of 141 and 91 yards, but he’s been quiet the last two weeks. In those games he has caught five passes, but for just 39 yards. As the Browns try — like everyone else — to stop Charles, look for Avery to find space in the Cleveland secondary and do some damage.
Defense: Akeem Jordan
All of the standout seasons happening on the Chiefs defense this year has overshadowed a solid first year in Kansas City for Jordan. The veteran linebacker gets to play Ringo to Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson’s John, Paul and George.
This week Jordan will face an offense that allowed little known linebacker Jamari Lattimore control the action last week in a loss to the Green Bay Packers. Lattimore had 12 tackles, one sack and a pass defensed.
Jordan can play the role of Lattimore Sunday as Cleveland tries to account for the rest of the Chiefs linebackers while not letting big Dontari Poe dictate what’s going on in the middle.
Special Teams: Dustin Colquitt
The Chiefs punter is putting together another fantastic season, but he his last three weeks haven’t been his best. If he puts in a game without any touchbacks and at least 60 percent inside the 20, Kansas City will have a much easier road to 8-0.