I'm writing this now so you can say you heard it here first. Everyone is talking about the wrong questions, and they've been covered ad nauseum in both the national and regional press. Will it be Seneca Wallace behind center? If so, what will that mean? Will the Chiefs repeat last season's dismal run defense a la Jerome Harrison's 286 yard performance from several months ago? While those are fair questions, the main one remains hidden... until now.
The key to the Chiefs-Browns game, in my estimation, comes down to Matt Cassel and the Cleveland Browns secondary. It's easy to ignore considering the Chiefs ground game is their biggest weapon. And it will be over 15 other contests. The Chiefs special teams also received a lot of hype and rightfully so. And after a sub-70 yard performance, it's easy to ignore Cassel's ability to win the game with his arm. But Cleveland presents just that opportunity.
The reason: Charlie Weis is here. Very few coaches in the NFL hold Charlie's ability to make offensive adjustments and game plans to attack the defense where it hurts. Any issues affecting Matt Cassel will be noted and taken care of throughout the week by Weis and his staff. And this Cleveland game gives him a great chance to confront his detractors.
The Browns, if you'll remember, were taken to town by Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman. They allowed two passing touchdowns in the final 13 minutes of the game and couldn't protect a 14-3 lead with only one minute left in the third quarter. The shutdown corner they got in this year's draft, Joe Haden, is a back-up at this early stage in his career, leaving the Browns without a true playmaker in their defensive backfield.
Haden and T.J. Ward are both rookies. While the trade for former Eagle Sheldon Brown strengthens the backfield and Eric Wright is a very solid NFL corner, the overall playmaking ability is in the bottom third of the NFL. Brown has seen better days and Wright has failed to become the disruptive force that many predicted he would become. Mike Adams is a good special teams player, but can be picked on in nickel coverage.
Freeman's mechanics still aren't that great. He's still at the level of Matt Stafford and Mark Sanchez from his draft class, so Matt Cassel is plenty able to choose his targets and deliver on Sunday. Freeman had a 60% completion rate dealing with unknown receivers like rookie Mike Williams, Michael Spurlock and Sammie Stroughter. With Dwayne Bowe, Chris Chambers and Dexter McCluster spreading the field and a running game the Browns must respect, Cassel will have a field day with the Browns secondary.
Here's predicting not only a Chiefs win, but a mini-resurrection of sorts for Matt Cassel's reputation as the Chiefs starting quarterback. In the end, I think two passing touchdowns and 270+ passing yards will be the final tally.