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What to watch for vs Chiefs, presented by House of Blues


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Matt Florjancic, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com



The Browns make their final road trip of the season Sunday when they travel to Kansas City for an AFC showdown with the Chiefs.


The Browns are 9-9-2 all-time against the Chiefs, but just 2-7-1 on the road in this series. The Browns are on a 3-game losing streak in Arrowhead Stadium. Their last road win in the series was a 6-3 decision over the Chiefs on September 4, 1988.


Overall, the Browns have won two of the last four meetings with the Chiefs, including a 31-28 overtime victory on December 3, 2006. In that game, Phil Dawson kicked a game-winning 33-yard field goal. Joshua Cribbs finished the game with 4 kickoff returns for 87 yards.


As the game unfolds, here are several things to keep an eye on:


The play of Joshua Cribbs. The fifth-year pro was instrumental in the Browns' victory over the Steelers last Thursday night. Between catching passes, running the WildDawg formation and returning both kicks and punts, Cribbs accounted for more than 200 yards against the Steelers.


Cribbs rushed for a game-high 87 yards on 8 carries, but perhaps none were bigger than a 37-yard run on third-and-three. Cribbs ran out of two Steelers' tackles before being stopped at Pittsburgh's 30-yard line. The run set up Chris Jennings' 10-yard touchdown run, the first of his career.


In addition to watching out for Cribbs in the WildDawg and on the edge as a wide receiver, he is 1 kickoff return touchdown away from breaking a first-place tie atop the NFL's all-time list. Cribbs is tied with five other players with 6 career kickoff returns for touchdowns. Two of those players, Ollie Matson (1952-66) and Gale Sayers (1965-71) are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Cribbs is 29 yards away from passing Michael Lewis for 15th on the NFL's all-time return yards list.


Linebacker Marcus Benard. The rookie from Jackson State registered his first 2 career sacks on Thursday against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Benard got his first career sack on the first play of the second quarter when he blitzed off the right edge and sacked Roethlisberger for a 7-yard loss on third-and-seven from the Browns' 41-yard line.


Later in the second quarter, the Steelers were facing a third-and-19 at their own 33-yard line when Benard used a speed rush to get around right tackle Willie Colon for a 6-yard loss.


Defensive linemen Corey Williams and Brian Schaefering. Williams and Schaefering combined for 3.5 of the Browns' 8 sacks of Roethlisberger Thursday. Williams set the tempo when he brought Roethlisberger down for a 9-yard loss on third-and-one on the Steelers' third offensive play from scrimmage. Williams later earned his second sack just 1 play ahead of Benard's second on Roethlisberger.


Schaefering earned a solo sack in the third quarter and combined with rookie linebacker Kaluka Maiava to bring Roethlisberger down for a 9-yard loss on the Steelers' last possession of the game.


Jennings. Jennings led all running backs with 73 yards rushing on 20 carries against the Steelers. Jennings scored the game's only touchdown in the second quarter on an 8-play, 74-yard drive.


Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel. Cassel has completed 214-of-392 pass attempts this season for 2,206 yards and 13 touchdowns. However, defenses have been able to read Cassel and have intercepted 13 of his passes.


In the Chiefs' 16-10 loss to Buffalo last weekend, Cassel completed 26-of-43 passes for 224 yards, but threw 4 interceptions and no touchdowns.


Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles. Charles has carried the ball 116 times for 605 yards and averages 5.2 yards-per-rush this season. He is coming off his best game of the season in which he ran for 143 yards on 20 carries (7.1 yards-per-carry) and broke a 76-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.


Charles took the handoff from Cassel out of the shotgun formation, ran through a hole between the left guard and tackle and cut all the way back to the right side of the field before hitting pay dirt.


Who can control the line of scrimmage? The Chiefs offensive line has surrendered 44 sacks, including 4 of Cassel against the Bills Sunday. The Chiefs are second only to the Packers in sacks allowed. Cassel has absorbed 41 of those sacks.


The Browns defense is coming off its best performance of the season in terms of getting to the quarterback. They posted 8 sacks in a game for the first time since a 2002 meeting with the Texans.


The Browns go into Sunday's game at 2-11 after a 13-6 home win over the Steelers last Thursday night. The Chiefs enter the game at 3-10 on the heels of a 16-10 home loss to the Bills Sunday afternoon.




Browns quarterback Brady Quinn will see another Dublin Coffman High School alum across the field on Sunday. Quinn was a sophomore during Chiefs offensive lineman Ikechuku Ndukwe's senior season. Ndukwe is the older brother of Bengals strong safety Chinedum Ndukwe, who played with Quinn at both Dublin Coffman and Notre Dame.


Chiefs wide receiver and Cleveland native Chris Chambers is in his ninth NFL season. Before starring at the University of Wisconsin, Chambers played football at Bedford High School.


Chiefs left outside linebacker Mike Vrabel is from Akron and played college football at The Ohio State University.


Chiefs reserve offensive lineman Andy Alleman is a Massillon graduate and played at The University of Akron.


Chiefs defensive tackle Ron Edwards is from Columbus, while linebacker David Herron is a Warren native.




Fans can watch Sunday's game at 1:00pm ET on local CBS affiliate WOIO-TV 19. Ian Eagle (play-by-play) and Rich Gannon (analyst) will provide commentary on the broadcast.


The game is also available along the Browns Radio Network with Jim Donovan, Doug Dieken and sideline reporter Andre Knott on the call.



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just to add to this thread:




CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A basketball player once told me Red Auerbach built the Boston Celtics to last, "like the Roman Empire."


The player was M.L. Carr, who later became Boston's general manager in the 1990s, about the time the Visigoths overran the empire.


The Celtics got old together back then. Management forgot about replenishing the team with youth and speed, sentimentally letting veterans play out the string together. After that, they had no one to remember the specs of the blueprint for victory.


In the old days, the Romans used career soldiers called centurions to indoctrinate the men in the ranks. Among the new centurions in the NFL is Mike Vrabel, of Walsh Jesuit, Ohio State and the Browns' opponent this Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs.


Before New England's coaching staff made Vrabel a central element of three Super Bowl champions, he was a spare part in Pittsburgh. After New England, he and Matt Cassel, who baby-sat the quarterback position when Tom Brady was hurt last season, were traded to Kansas City for a second-round draft pick.


Cassel is the player of the future; Vrabel is the veteran exemplar.



Stephan Savoia / Associated PressMike Vrabel embraces his role of senior statesman with the Chiefs. “You have to lead by example. You have to let the games and the practices come to you.”The Browns have tried to do this in the past, but ex-Pat Willie McGinest, a Romeo Crennel favorite, often played as if he was 45 years old. Jeff Garcia, Butch Davis' solution to the quarterback problem, tried to tell everyone how he did it in San Francisco.


"You can't come in yelling and talking 'When I was here, we did this,'" said Vrabel. "You have to lead by example. You have to let the games and the practices come to you."


Vrabel didn't come into the NFL as a golden child. He was a third-rounder, the 91st pick overall. He started as a special teams crazy. Although he had to switch positions from down lineman at Ohio State to linebacker, he made himself into a Pro Bowl player.


"He's a special guy," said Browns coach Eric Mangini, who coached Vrabel in New England. "You can't coach his toughness. You can't coach his instincts. [He is] a guy that wasn't highly drafted, worked his way up. Really, we had brought him in initially as a special teams player and he established himself as a really good defensive player.


"Even talking to [Jason] Trusnik when he was a young guy first starting out, I talked to him about emulating a guy like Mike Vrabel whose work ethic, every day in practice [he] worked. He knew the defense, not just his assignment, knew the defense, could draw up the defense, could coach the defense."


In practice, Vrabel would want to play safety. "He'd disguise stuff," said Mangini. "He used to frustrate Tom [brady] to no end. He'd get Tom all fired up."


In Kansas City, Vrabel and his three Super Bowl rings would only work if he could still play. He certainly had the pedigree. He was one of the best defensive linemen of the last 25 years at Ohio State and held the season sack record until one-year wonder Vernon Gholston broke it. He still leads the Buckeyes in career sacks.


In the NFL, besides playing linebacker, he has caught nine touchdown passes over the years in the goal-line offense, plus two in Super Bowls. "He's one of our best defensive players, if not the best defensive player," said Chiefs coach Todd Haley.


Although Richard Seymour, another exiled Patriot, criticized mastermind Bill Belichick for getting rid of too much talent as they rebuilt, Vrabel wouldn't pile on.


"There's a lot of emotion when you get a phone call in late February or early March [saying you're traded]," Vrabel said. "When the dust settled, it was a good fit for everybody."


Mangini sees Vrabel -- who lives in Columbus, works out with the current Buckeyes in the off-season, and says he's "as big a homer" about their Rose Bowl chances as anybody -- as a future major college coach.


"He's already coaching," said Haley.


The Chiefs are only 3-10. Then again, Rome wasn't built in a day


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Cassell: has been sacked 40 times this season (in 392 attempts). As a team, the Chiefs have been sacked 43 times in 434 attempts.

His past four games have seen Cassell sacked 11 times, fumble five times, lose two of those, and toss 7 INTs against 3 TDs. That's 9 turnovers in 4 games.


Dwayne Bowe and Chris Chamber are big play receivers. They are averaging 4.5 and 5.9 yards after the catch.



Jamaal Charles is a legit RB. In his last three games, he has rushed for 292 yards, has 11 catches for 95 yards, and has scored three touchdowns. That's 387 yards from scrimmage, and he's doing it on 5.2 yards per carry.



Kansas City has one of the worst defenses in the league, consistently ranking in the bottom five in all major categories.



The Chiefs don't pressure the QB much (19 sacks is second worst in the league) or pick many passes (9 ties them for 7th worst in the NFL).


Quinn has thrown for 765 yards and 7 TDs over the past four games. Add in a rushing TD and he has accounted for 8 scores vs. 1 TO in those four.


Massaquoi remains the biggest consistent receiving threat for Cleveland, but the backs and TEs have been a big part of the passing game of late (Moore 8-114 in the past two, Harrison 9-72, 2 TDs in the past two).



The Lewis-less Browns have run the ball extremely well. In the past four weeks, they have posted 131 yards, 58 yards, 115 yards, and 171 yards rushing. That's a touch under 120 yards per game. The Chiefs have been shredded for 163 yards per game over the past four.



Chiefs are trending downward, having lost three in a row. In their past four games, they have been outscored 127-64. Cleveland has the same record (1-3), but they're coming off a win, have actually been clicking on offense. They have been outscored 90-80.

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