- You can’t mention this week’s quarterback battle without bringing up the fact that Baker Mayfield and Pat Mahomes squared off in 2016 in one of the most unfathomable displays of offense in NCAAF history. Oklahoma beat Texas Tech 66-59, but just look at the numbers below:
- In terms of number of NFL starts, Mahomes doesn’t have a significant edge over Mayfield — this is practically each of their first seasons. But Mahomes had the benefit of being the backup to Alex Smith all of last year before taking over. I’d also venture to guess that an Andy Reid-led team is better than a Hue Jackson-led team.
- Mahomes’ production has been awe-inspiring. He’s completing 65.6% of his passes and has thrown for 26 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. Mayfield has completed 58.3% of his passes and has 8 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. Everyone is high on Mayfield’s potential, but Mahomes is playing out of this world for his age — better than probably every quarterback in the NFL.
- Kareem Hunt is an all-purpose back, having 134 carries for 592 yards (4.4 YPC) and 5 touchdowns to go along with 20 catches for 262 yards and 5 touchdowns. His hurdle that actually led to a touchdown last week was incredible. Backup Spencer Ware has 18 carries for 106 yards and also 9 catches for 89 yards. It’s not a lot, but it’s the big-play burst you want from your backup.
KAREEM HUNT HURDLE— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) October 28, 2018
KAREEM HUNT HURDLE
KAREEM HUNT HURDLE pic.twitter.com/rHHBdj3Uks
- Duke Johnson was involved in the first two plays on offense last week, but suffered an injury and was not used as a receiver the rest of the game. He is healed up this week, but it’s up to a new mind in Freddie Kitchens to use the receiving back wisely. Nick Chubb also faces a Chiefs defense that allows 5.37 yards per carry, the worst mark in the NFL.
Wide Receiver / Tight End
- Tyreek Hill is such a dangerous receiver, whether it be via the deep ball or making defenders miss with his moves after the catch. He has 44 catches for 705 yards and 7 touchdowns on the year. Tight end Travis Kelce is the team’s next leading receiver with 44 catches for 642 yards and 4 touchdowns. Kansas City’s No. 2 receiver, Sammy Watkins, is also doing very well with 34 catches for 453 yards and 3 touchdowns.
- Jarvis Landry is on pace to be a 1,000+ yard receiver for the Browns, but I’m expecting more than that. Antonio Callaway caught some contested passes finally last week, so it figures that he came down with an ankle injury in practice this week and is now questionable. Rashard Higgins, who was the definition of just a “solid” player prior to his injury, is back after missing three games. Hopefully a change in coordinators means a little more playing time for Seth DeValve, who can make those 20-yard catches to stretch the field.
- Are you ready to laugh? The Chiefs’ starting offensive line includes three former Browns: Cam Erving at left guard, Austin Reiter at center, and Mitchell Schwartz at right tackle. Eric Fisher mans left tackle, with Andrew Wylie at right guard. Erving and Reiter are starting due to injuries, while Schwartz is one of the league’s best right tackles. Cleveland will have opportunities to exploit the Chiefs’ interior; the issue is that Mahomes has still been making the best out of it.
- The Browns’ offensive line has some question marks heading into this week with Desmond Harrison suffering an illness late in the week and JC Tretter still being hobbled with his ankle. I still think both players will start, but if someone gets scratched, either Greg Robinson or Austin Corbett will be ready to step in.
- The Chiefs run a 3-4 defense. Their starting defensive line includes DE Chris Jones, NT Derrick Nnadi, and DE Allen Bailey. Nnadi is a third-round pick who has started taking the most snaps at the nose tackle position for Kansas City. He has done fairly well against the run, but it’s hard to evaluate that much when the team ranks 32nd in YPC allowed. Jones and Bailey each have 4 sacks.
- Myles Garrett has become a bit of a vocal leader the past couple of weeks in addition to having a team-high 8 sacks. Larry Ogunjobi was originally quoted as saying that guys are finally caring after the coaching change, but he shot back on Twitter to say that is not what he said:
- The Chiefs’ starting linebackers include are OLB Justin Houston, ILB Anthony Hitchens, ILB Reggie Ragland, and OLB Dee Ford. Houston has missed the past three games to injury but might be back this week to provide an extra pass rush for Kansas City. Ford is having a career year with 8 sacks; the most he’s ever had in a single season was 10. If Houston or Hitchens can’t go due to injury, our Chiefs affiliate discussed the youngsters who could fill in for them.
- The Browns will probably have to go through two more weeks without Joe Schobert, hoping he can return after the bye. This is where Mychal Kendricks would’ve come in handy before that whole “going to prison” thing. The most surprising stat of the year to me is the fact that Jamie Collins leads the team in tackles.
- The Chiefs’ starting cornerbacks are Steven Nelson and Kendall Fuller, with Orlando Scandrick playing the nickel. The group is not a bad one if the rest of the defense were playing up-to-par, but the safety group of veteran Ron Parker and Eric Murray leaves a lot to be desired. They miss Eric Berry back there for sure.
- E.J. Gaines should be back in the starting lineup this week, allowing for Damarious Randall to settle back in to his free safety spot. We will see if any one Browns defender draws the assignment of Tyreek Hill; if it is Denzel Ward, it should be a fun matchup to watch. My early question mark will be whether Gregg Williams goes with T.J. Carrie or Briean Boddy-Calhoun as the nickel corner.
- Harrison Butker is the Chiefs’ kicker. Butker connected on 38-of-42 field goals last year and is 13-of-14 this year. You’re lucky if he misses; and he’s only missed one extra point out of 64 attempts in his career. He does not, however, attempt many long distance kicks. Greg Joseph was living on the edge for awhile with Cleveland, but fell off the rails — after missing a field goal, his next extra point was the ugliest thing ever.
- It is a battle of the Colquitt brothers this week! Dustin Colquitt is 36, while Britton Colquitt is 33. Dustin (46.4) edges Britton (45.0) in punt average, and has a bigger edge in net average, this year.
- Jabrill Peppers’ aggressiveness on punt returns continues to be evident. Tyreek Hill has better statistics, though, because of a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown this season. Tremon Smith returns kickoffs for Kansas City and has a 97-yard return this year that did not go for a touchdown. Cleveland seems to have handed the kickoff role off to RB Dontrell Hilliard.
Here are predictions from multiple staff members at DBN.
Chris Pokorny: “I think we’ll see some improvement from the Browns’ offense from a player utilization aspect and the number of possessions the team will have, but no one can stop the Chiefs offensive playmakers and creativity with formations. Their misdirections will kill the Browns en route to a multi-possession win.” Chiefs 35, Browns 24.
Mike Hoag: “I don’t see any possible way the Browns can keep up with the explosive Chiefs offense. As much as you want to think the team will rally around new coach Gregg Williams, if that happens it won’t be this week. The Browns just don’t have an advantage in any aspect of the game, so it’d be a true shocker if this one isn’t out of reach early.” Chiefs 35, Browns 16.
Thomas Moore: “The Chiefs are averaging 36.2 points per game on offense. The Browns are giving up an average of 26.2 points per game on defense. Offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens is calling plays for the first time.
Even though the Browns no longer have to pay the Hue Tax each Sunday, this game is going to be ugly.” Chiefs 26, Browns 10.
Ezweav: “The Curse is weeping over the loss of Hue Jackson, but it’s also not concerned as this one doesn’t need any assistance. Unfortunately Gregg’s ascension to HC probably doesn’t improve the issue of offenses totally scheming the defense’s face off every week. To go along with great schemers in KC, they are getting an MVP performance from super stud QB Patrick Mahomes. I can’t imagine we’ll be able to keep them from scoring pretty much as often as they want.
However, I think Freddie Kitchens taking control of the offense may put Baker back on the course he seemed to be on prior to the wild deviation over the last three games. So we’ll put up some points, but not nearly enough. ” Chiefs 45, Browns 31.
Andrea Hangst: “While the Browns finally made the right decision to part ways with Hue Jackson and the malcontent Todd Haley, it doesn’t quite put them in a better position, particularly not with the Chiefs coming to town on Sunday. It could be worse: This game could be in Arrowhead, and the Browns do have a strong defense that could easily add a turnover or two to its total. But the offense isn’t suddenly going to come to life under Freddie Kitchens, who is calling plays in a regular-season game for the first time in his career. Canning Jackson and moving into interim mode means the Browns’ latest transition period begins now. Cleveland is not equipped to compete with the likes of the Chiefs, a team with true Super Bowl potential.” Chiefs 35, Browns 14.
Josh Finney: “All of the points. I expect this game to be competitive early, if the Browns keep to script. Show up with big energy on defense, then fail to maintain it as the offense splutters.
Actually don’t think the score will be as bad as I originally expected (50-20ish) because I think Kitchens will do a better job of establishing the run and using playaction. Don’t think it will lead to more points, but it should keep KC from having a crazy TOP. I expect Hunt and Hill to absolutely EAT in the screen game. Like, 400 yards between them. Chiefs in a laugher.” Chiefs 45, Browns 23.
Who do you think will win, Browns fans? Let us know in the comments section below.