Chiefs 23, Browns 17
Strategy: While their offense has undergone changes since the Ravens hosted them in Week 2, the Browns continue to have one of the NFL's better defenses. They have a stout 3-4 base defense, and while they do a good job of getting after the quarterback with their four-man rushes, they like to mix in creative blitzes to generate pressure. Their pass rush, along with their mixed coverages, helps mask weak spots in the secondary. Their personnel at the skill positions have changed, but they have not made major tweaks to their offense. However, new starting quarterback Jason Campbell does seem more willing to take shots down the field than Brandon Weeden.
Personnel: Campbell is their third starting quarterback this season. Former Ravens running back Willis McGahee is their lead back after the surprising trade of Trent Richardson. Wide receiver Josh Gordon, who was serving a suspension in Week 2, has become a dangerous pass-catcher. Those are the biggest changes since their last meeting. The Browns have a lot of big bodies up front, including nose tackle Phil Taylor and defensive end Ahtyba Rubin, who was sidelined in Week 2. Cornerback Joe Haden spent most of the game covering Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and will likely do the same Sunday against Torrey Smith.
What went right: The Browns chased after Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith for much of the game. He was able to neutralize their pass rush early in the game with his legs and quick release, but in the second half he took a beating. They finished with six sacks. They did a good job containing Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, who had 74 yards on 18 carries, though there were some plays where they over-pursued and opened up cutback lanes for Charles. The Browns allowed Campbell to get sacked just once by Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and the Chiefs, who lead the NFL in sacks. Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron had productive games as receivers.
What went wrong: The offense started slow with three three-and-outs on their first three possessions and the defense couldn't get off the field as the Chiefs jumped out to an early 13-0 lead. Smith picked them apart with the short passing game, completing 13 passes to his backs and tight ends. The aggressive Browns were victimized on a few screen passes, including one well-blocked play that fullback Anthony Sherman took for a 12-yard touchdown. The Browns still can't run the ball. McGahee and fullback Chris Ogbonnaya combined for 40 yards on 12 carries. Richardson didn't fare much better when he was still with the Browns, but at least his pounding style wore down defenders. No one fears McGahee at this point in his career.
Turning point: The Browns erased most of the Chiefs' lead and trailed by three points midway through the fourth quarter when their defense forced the Chiefs to punt from their end zone. But returner Davone Bess muffed the punt at midfield. The Chiefs recovered and flipped the field position. The Browns never threatened from that point forward.
X-factor: In his second season, Gordon has become a major weapon for the Browns. He has size and speed and a little wiggle to him when he gets the ball in the open field. He had five catches for 132 yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs. The Browns got the ball to him on crossing routes, a screen play and a deep ball on a flea-flicker that went for a 39-yard touchdown. Gordon has the ability to be a difference-maker when the Ravens play the Browns this time around.
Matt VenselCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun