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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

NFL Predictions 2013 Week 8: Browns vs Chiefs (updated)

Cleveland Browns vs Kansas City Chiefs: KC -7 (Bet365)

Market Watch

Last week the LVH had this game as -8 in favor of KC in the look-ahead line. When it reopened after the weekend, the Chiefs were -7.5 point favorites. Right now, a lot of books are keeping it in this range, but you'll find slightly different numbers depending where you look. At Bet365, we can grab KC at -7 with a bit of extra juice. Sharp books like 5Dimes and Pinnacle have moved it all the way up to -9+ to keep it out of the teaser window.

If you can't get -7, don't hesitate to put the Chiefs in a teaser.

When the Browns have the ball

Jason Campbell has never really been better than an average starting quarterback. Yet, what does it say when he gets passed over by Hoyer when Weeden went down with an injury? Perhaps the Browns wanted to see what they had in Hoyer, because they already know what Campbell brings to the table. Either way, what we have here is a scary situation for the veteran quarterback.

The Chiefs defense rank first in the league in almost every significant category I look at. They include pass defense, sacks, drive efficency, third down, red zone, and turnover differential.  The Browns are not only below average in these areas, but they also rank high on offensive penalties. It's going to be hard enough putting up points as it is, but offensive penalties are proven drive killers.

Their best weapon, Josh Gordon, is in the middle of trade rumors. Willis McGahee has bad knees. Chris Ogbonnaya is a fullback.

They do have Joe Thomas, who is the 2nd highest graded offensive tackle, but can he block both sides of the line? Heck, even if he could, who is going to block Dontari Poe? Poe beat out Chris Myers last week, who happens to be the best-graded center in the NFL.

This won't be pretty for Cleveland.

When the Chiefs have the ball

Speaking of ugly, when is Alex Smith going to throw a touchdown pass? KC continue to rely heavily on Jamaal Charles. He not only leads the Chiefs in rushing yards, but he's also their leading receiver in most games. That changed last week as Bowe finally had a good game. They are also getting strong contributions from utility player Dexter McCluster and the reliable Anthony Fasano at tight end.

All these guys will need to raise their game because the Browns defense is capable of causing some problems.

Yet, as good as this defense can be at times, through seven weeks they rank near the bottom on third down and in the red zone. That's not the kind of production you want to see in the big moments.

Adding to the challenge for Cleveland is the fact that KC are among the best on special teams - which in turn contributes to a league best starting average field position.

Bottom Line

Kansas City have had a pretty cushy schedule this year, but they've also been one of the more consistent teams in the league. What you see is what you get.  We won't know their true ceiling until they play stronger teams, but for now it's clear what to expect against the rest of the NFL.

Unlike last week where Case Keenum came in and showed a ton of poise in a tough spot, it's very unlikely that Jason Campbell can come in and do the same. We've seen what this guy can do, and it's not pretty. If the Browns had a strong running game to rely on, I might be more cautious about this pick. Instead, this Chiefs defense is in line to pad their already impressive stats.

Offensively, it will be more of a grind for the Chiefs offense, but one area where they do hold the edge is in the red zone. As good as the Browns defense has been this year, they fold when opponents get inside the 20.

NFL Pick: KC -7.
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