The Cleveland Browns are lambs being led to the slaughter as they prepare to face off with the Kansas City Chiefs. That, at least, is what the numbers, the records of the two teams involved, and even local Cleveland sports talk radio hosts and callers all tell me. Odds are that the Browns, who have once again made a change at quarterback, are not going to go to what is, for visitors, one of the most difficult NFL venues in which to play and pull off the unthinkable.
KC is giving away nine points via the latest line as of the posting of this piece. The Browns managing to cover that would be a moral victory for Cleveland considering how the team's season is quickly collapsing.
Players to watch in Browns at Chiefs: Jason Campbell
The 31-year old veteran QB probably won't be with the Browns next summer let alone starting for the team during 2014 August preseason games. Heck, he may not be playing for Cleveland come December. He is getting the call this weekend, and that contest could, depending on what occurs in those four quarters, prove to be Campbell's final shot at leading a NFL offense before being permanently relegated to backup, at best.
There is, above anything else, one piece of advice that Campbell had better heed to both give his offense the best chance of moving down the field and also avoid personal injury: Get rid of the football, and do it quickly. The slow release time of the now benched Brandon Weeden resulted in the second-year QB consistently making avoidable mistakes and in Weeden ultimately losing his job for the second time this fall.
Campbell failing to learn from Weeden's mistakes will mean bad times.
Players to watch in Browns at Chiefs: Josh Gordon
Gordon has, when speaking with reporters about the possibility that he could be traded this fall, said all the right things. That doesn't mean that this situation isn't affecting the play of the 22-year old wide receiver. The Browns insist that they are not interested in dealing away who is the team's best offensive play-maker, but we'll only know for sure once the trade deadline comes and goes.
That is worth mentioning because this Sunday could be the last time that we see Gordon in Cleveland brown and orange. There is no part of me that believes that the Browns will not deal Gordon if the team gets the right offer (first round pick or a group of selections) AND Cleveland gets absolutely demolished by KC. Neither of those things may matter, however, if Gordon has a lackluster performance for the second straight game.
Players to watch in Browns at Chiefs: Tamba Hali
Hali has been playing like a man possessed throughout the first half of the campaign. Only three players have more sacks than does Hali heading into Week 8. Hali finished 2012 with nine total sacks.
He has nine in seven games right now.
Cleveland quarterbacks not named Brian Hoyer have taken beatings this year. Hali and his teammates, who have come together to accumulate a league-high 35 total sacks, will be looking to continue that trend against a QB in Campbell who isn't known for quickly zipping the ball out of his hand. Hali may be in for a career day if those in the Cleveland o-line get disheartened before halftime.
Players to watch in Browns at Chiefs: Jordan Cameron
After seemingly being abandoned by the previously mentioned Weeden, the Cleveland tight end was targeted nine times in the team's loss to the Green Bay Packers. He reeled in seven balls for 55 yards and a touchdown in the losing effort. Now, with Campbell getting the nod, Cameron could again play the role of hero for his QB.
Cameron remains Cleveland's most reliable offensive weapon. In fact, he may be the team's only reliable weapon. Campbell should look to his TE early and often, if for no other reason than to get into a rhythm.