The 7-4 Kansas City Chiefs head to Cleveland this Sunday to take on the 3-8 Browns as six-point favorites. Cleveland knows that it will be up to its defense to weather the storm this week against the league leader in rushing yards and carries, Larry Johnson. This is a game that the Chiefs desperately need to stay in the thick of things in the AFC playoffs picture. Kansas City has only made it to the post season one time in the last eight seasons, that appearance coming in 2003. With the announcement that Priest Holmes will not come back this season, Johnson’s health becomes vital and the Chiefs will be faced with a dilemma. It has perhaps helped Kansas City become a better football team with its best back, L. J. , getting all the carries. That’s perhaps why the Chiefs are 5-1 in their last six games. However, Priest Holmes’ time as the featured back seeing the ball nearly every play is perhaps the reason why he now can’t seem to stay on the field. Kansas City’s philosophy seems to be run them until their wheels fall off, but maybe they should learn from the past. Herman Edwards made the statement that he won’t wear Larry Johnson out, but if it comes at the cost of losing all bets are off I’ll assure you.
The Browns 19th ranked defense will be faced with the challenge of stopping the league’s sixth ranked rushing offense. I’ll be the first to tell you that the Browns defense is much more solid than their ranking indicates, but the offense hasn’t been able to move the ball well enough to give the defense a chance to get any kind of a breather. Kansas City’s 12th ranked defense has proven to be susceptible at times especially to the run. I’m not sure how much good that will do since the Browns have the 30th ranked rushing offense at just 80.1 yards per game.
Cleveland’s best defensive scheme will be to stack the line and make quarterback Trent Green beat them. Green is making just his third start of the season after suffering a concussion in week 1, Thus far, he has rarely been tested and the Chiefs haven’t really called his number.
This week will largely be decided by how the Browns can respond after being blown out by their in-state rivals 30 to love last week. Morale is at an all-time low this season for the Browns after falling to 1-5 at home this season. Are the stars aligned for the Cleveland to bounce back this week or will Kansas City keep cruising behind its Pro Bowl bound back? I have dissected every angle of this matchup inside and out and I haven’t felt better about a play in the AFC all season long. That’s why I’m making this matchup my 5 Star AFC Game of the Year. You can take my winning side straight to the bank!
Jeff Alexander is a documented member of the Professional Handicappers League. Read all of his articles at http://www.procappers.com/Jeff_Alexander.htm