KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The 7-0 Kansas City Chiefs are now the NFL’s last remaining unbeaten team and we’ll find out today when the Chiefs meet the Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead Stadium whether they find one to be a truly lonely number.
The pressure gets cranked up on the Chiefs not only because they’re the last undefeated team but they’re also unexpected in first place in the AFC West, a game ahead of the Denver Broncos. The Chiefs have done a nice job handling expectations and focusing on the task at hand so far and they don’t seem much impressed with what they’ve accomplished.
That’s a good sign moving forward but now they’re in a different world. They got their opponent’s best shot last week for the first time all season and the Houston Texans, who were otherwise struggling, almost left Kansas City with a victory.
The Browns, losers of two straight, made a quarterback change in time for their game against the Chiefs, as Houston did last week. The Browns benched the wobbly Brandon Weeden in favor of veteran journeyman Jason Campbell, who since being injured with the Oakland Raiders in 2011 has started just one NFL game, that being last season for the Chicago Bears.
This is Cleveland’s third change at quarterback this season but the first time the Browns turned to Campbell, indicating the coaches can’t have a lot of confidence in him. Campbell won’t get rattled by what he will face -- he’s been the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins as well as the Raiders -- it’s a stretch to think he can play as well as Case Keenum did for the Texans last week.
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said this week he made the move to Campbell because he believes Campbell’s abilities are a better match for the Chiefs’ defense. While Campbell’s experience will be useful, his mobility isn’t what it was earlier in his career.
As for beating the Chiefs with his passing, good luck with that. The Chiefs have frustrated quarterbacks more accomplished than Campbell this season, so there’s no reason they shouldn’t be strong again today.
As long as the Chiefs can score some points, this should be a comfortable victory. But that prospect is dicey, as always. The Browns allowed 31 points in each of their past two games, but they’re actually playing some good defense. They’re stingy against the run, allowing just 3.5 yards per carry, and opponents are completing less than 60 percent of their passes.
The Chiefs are still looking to find some offense when it doesn’t come from running back Jamaal Charles. Quarterback Alex Smith had his highest completion percentage of the season last week when he hit on 23 of 34 passes but it didn’t make much difference. Plays will have to come from receivers.
Whether or not the Chiefs are improved on offense, they’ll be good enough to control the game with their defense, as they usually do. There could be some anxious moments, as in many of their victories this season. But eventually the Chiefs will move to 8-0.
Prediction: Chiefs 24, Browns 7.