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NFL Preview - Cleveland (3-4) at Kansas City (7-0)
By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Contributing NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) - The quarterback carousel continues for Kansas City Chiefs opponents.
After winning three of their seven games against teams with injured starting QBs, the Chiefs will host the Cleveland Browns in a Week 8 game this weekend after the Browns decided to pull the plug on Brandon Weeden for the second time this season.
The former Oklahoma State star was jettisoned for backup Brian Hoyer after suffering a thumb injury earlier in the season, but regained the No. 1 spot when Hoyer was eliminated with a season-ending knee injury. This time, Weeden is being replaced for ineffectiveness instead of injury, leaving the No. 1 role to veteran NFL journeyman Jason Campbell.
Weeden was sacked three times and completed only 40.5 percent of 42 passes in a 31-13 Week 7 loss at Green Bay, which dropped his starting record this season to 0-4 and his career mark as the top signal-caller to 5-10 over two seasons since the Browns made him the 22nd pick of the 2012 draft.
"It's a tough decision," Cleveland coach Rob Chudzinski said. "I believe this is in the best interest of the team, and ultimately gives us the best chance to win. I'm excited to see what Jason will do with this opportunity."
Campbell started 71 games over seven seasons with three teams before heading to Cleveland to begin 2013. He was 20-32 in four years with Washington, 11-7 in two years at Oakland and 0-1 as a starter while appearing in six overall games last season with Chicago.
"It's an opportunity to go out there and just get back to the game and just having fun," he said. "Obviously, we want to go win games and do the best we can. But at the same time we understand we're a growing football team and our goal and mission every week is to go out and win games."
Campbell defeated the Chiefs twice while with the Raiders in 2010.
Cleveland beat Kansas City, 30-7, in Week 14 last season.
The Chiefs this season have run up a 7-0 record and assumed first place in the AFC West while handling teams that entered their game with a combined 15-33 record. They defeated Houston, 17-16, last week while the Texans were without starting quarterback Matt Schaub and lost both running back Arian Foster and linebacker Brian Cushing during the game.
"This is a rough business. Injuries do take place. I get it. But we've been fortunate," coach Andy Reid said, "that's really what it is."
Previously, they'd beaten Jacksonville with No. 2 passer Chad Henne and Tennessee with second-string QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
"The best thing about this team, we've had a lot of bad luck in the past; we're taking success the right way, being very humble about it," linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "Character speaks after a win and we will still come back and grind like we're losing. We'll come back and try to get to 8-0. It's a great feeling.
We're loving it."
Kansas City hasn't started 8-0 since winning nine straight to begin 2003. That Chiefs team finished 13-3 and lost to Indianapolis, 38-31, in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.
Last year's team was 2-14, but the 2013 version has rallied strongly thanks to a defense that's not surrendered more than 17 points in any game and has allowed a league-best 81 points in seven outings.
Additionally, Kansas City is fifth in total defense (304.6 yards per game), third in pass defense (194.7 yards per game) and leads the league in sacks with 35.
At that pace, the Chiefs will finish with 80 and break the league record of 72 set by the 1984 Chicago Bears.
On offense, running back Jamaal Charles in third in the league with 561 yards and tied for second with six rushing TDs. He scored on an 80-yard run and ultimately compiled 165 yards on 18 rushes in last season's game against the Browns.
Kansas City is 12th in the league in scoring (24.1 points per game) and 19th in yardage (330.7 yards per game.)
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
A charmed third time?
The Browns will head to Arrowhead hoping their third starting QB of the season, Campbell, can show more of the winning ways he produced in Oakland than the inconsistent, mistake-prone version he displayed in Washington. Expect the Chiefs to apply heavy pressure while trying to make the rusty veteran uncomfortable, while Campbell incorporates tight end Jordan Cameron as a trusty option.
Running down a dream.
Kansas City has authored the league's best turnaround thanks in large part to the work of an offensive line that's allowed just 18 sacks and has consistently opened gaping holes for the supremely skilled Charles to burst through. Expect Charles to aim for more of the same against a Browns defense that's been sturdy up front but may have trouble containing the Chiefs' back if he gets into space.
Though they stand alone as the league's final unbeaten, there's still a fair bit of doubt when it comes to Kansas City truly being a Super Bowl-caliber team.
Beating a 3-4 Cleveland team won't definitively answer that question, but it will show that Reid has focused his players on the task at hand - rather than looming AFC West showdown with Denver.
Sports Network predicted outcome: Chiefs 26, Browns 18
10/24 09:54:19 ET