Five keys for Browns vs. Chiefs

Posted by Vic Carucci on December 6, 2012 – 5:39 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

Here are five keys for the Browns in Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs:

>>Pounce on the Chiefs early. The Chiefs were driven by emotion, stemming from the murder-suicide involving linebacker Jovan Belcher, in last Sunday’s win against Carolina. They no doubt will try and use those raw feelings to their advantage for the second week in a row, which makes it imperative for the Browns to strike quickly. The Browns need to seize any opportunity to get into the end zone right away, and not squander red-zone chances as they did against Oakland last week. They simply can’t give the Chiefs any semblance of confidence.

>>Win the turnover battle. The Browns have done an excellent job of taking care of the ball, with a plus-seven turnover ratio. The Chiefs? They’ve done exactly the opposite, losing the ball a league-high 32 times (16 interceptions, 16 fumbles) on the way to a minus-21 turnover differential. The math suggests the Browns should have a clear advantage, although the Chiefs had no turnovers (and only one penalty) against the Panthers. Although Brandon Weeden broke his own club rookie record with 364 passing yards against Oakland, he did throw a pair of interceptions. He must play a much cleaner game.

>>Run the ball effectively. The best part of the Chiefs’ defense is the aggressive pass rushing of outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. The best way for the Browns to slow them down is to have success on the ground with workhorse Trent Richardson, on pace for a 1,000-yard season, and change-up option Montario Hardesty. Richardson, who has dealt with sore ribs, seems to be increasingly comfortable running between the tackles. Hardesty has emerged as an explosive force that is good for a long burst whenever he gets the ball in his hands. The Browns must be persistent with their rushing attack, as they’ve been in their past two games.

>>Shut down running backs Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hills. Chiefs offensive coordinator Brian Daboll will try and be relentless with the run. He’ll keep feeding the ball to Charles and Hillis until the Browns demonstrate they can stop them. Defensive tackles Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin will need to continue to show the dominance they’ve shown since both returned to the lineup healthy. If so, middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson should keep thriving. Safety T.J. Ward figures to be heavily involved in run support, along with Usama Young, who returns from a concussion.

>>Don’t allow Brady Quinn to get a hot hand. Quinn, a former Browns quarterback, had what might very well have been the best game of his career against the Panthers when he completed 19 of 23 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns without throwing an interception. The Browns need to discourage him from the start with a strong pass rush and tight coverage. Left cornerback Joe Haden essentially took away half of the field from Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer last week, and that helped 11th-year right cornerback Sheldon Brown to make the most of his experience in making a decisive interception and knocking down multiple passes.

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/browns_daily, Twitter.com/viccarucci, e-mail: Daily@ClevelandBrowns.com, or by calling 855-363-2459.


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