Fearless Prediction: Browns-Chiefs
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: CBS (Ian Eagle, Rich Gannon)
KEYS TO THE GAME: Browns QB Brady Quinn lacks big-play threats downfield, but he is doing a good job of managing games. The Chiefs would like to see more of that out of their own young quarterback, as Matt Cassel has taken 40 sacks while throwing 13 interceptions to go along with three fumbles. Both offenses will also count on youth in the backfield. Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles is coming off a career-best 143 rushing yards last Sunday, while the Browns are using a tandem of Jerome Harrison and Chris Jennings.
FAST FACTS: Quinn has thrown 145 passes since his last interception. ... The Chiefs have given up 18 plays of 40-plus yards.
Inside The Camps
The Browns are still courting Mike Holmgren to be their director of football operations, but they are not ready to announce his hiring quite yet.
Contrary to many reports, the Browns and Holmgren have not discussed financial terms of a contract that would make Holmgren the team's
top football executive, according to a Browns spokesman. One figure that has been thrown around is Holmgren asking for $10 million a year to turn the Browns' fortunes around as a football czar.
"In terms of Holmgren, we had a productive visit over a couple days," Bill Bonsiewicz said Thursday morning before the press conference of Coach Eric Mangini began. "He left yesterday. We agreed to communicate in the coming days. We're not getting into specifics of what was discussed. The one thing we did not discuss to this point was money."
The announcement by the team's vice president of communications was the first time anyone in the Browns' front office other than Mangini talked about Holmgren's visit to Cleveland on Monday and Tuesday. And when Mangini was asked questions the answers he gave were geared more toward how a football czar would affect his future and what he thought of Holmgren.
Bonsiewicz revealing money was not discussed despite the presence of Holmgren's agent, Bob LaMonte, seems to put a damper on reports Holmgren could be hired any day. Before the Browns could hire Holmgren or anyone else on their short list they must interview a minority candidate to comply with the Rooney Rule.
"We're aware of the Rooney Rule and have been in contact with the league office about it," Bonsiewicz said.
In a twist that affects the Browns indirectly, Vinny Cerrato resigned Thursday as executive vice president of football operations. His replacement has already been hired -- former Buccaneers and Raiders general manager Bruce Allen. The Redskins reportedly interviewed two unnamed minority candidates before latching onto Allen.
The swift action in Washington means two things -- a job opening Holmgren might have been interested in is filled and Allen is off the market for the job of football czar for the Browns.
If Seattle's interest in Holmgren is lukewarm, as it appears to be, Holmgren's only options could be to work for the Browns or sit out 2010 and wait for another opening next year.
Players are intrigued about the possibility of Holmgren settling into the Browns' front office. Holmgren coached the Packers and Seahawks for a combined 17 years, made the playoffs 12 years, went to the Super Bowl three times and won it once. He was general manager of the Seahawks as well as coach from 1999-2002. He was relieved of his GM duties after the 2002 season and continued coaching through 2008.
"I think he's a good man," said guard Floyd Womack, who played for Holmgren for eight years in Seattle. "He's been around this league a while. He's good at what he does."
Left tackle Joe Thomas has an indirect connection with Holmgren. Thomas grew up in Wisconsin and was 7 years old when Holmgren was made coach of the Packers in 1992. He was 14 when Holmgren left Green Bay for a bigger challenge and more power in Seattle after taking the Packers to the Super Bowl twice.
"He won one Super Bowl and went to two others," Thomas said. "You're going to be pretty well respected. They even named a street after him."
While they were able to produce 354 yards -- their second-best yardage day of the 2009 season -- the Chiefs were able to score but 10 points and one touchdown last Sunday against Buffalo. They turned the ball over four times. They allowed four sacks.
The Chiefs had 20 negative plays against the Bills, a number they should reach over three or four games, not just one. They are 80 percent through their season and they are still making a remarkable number of mistakes. That total of 20 included four sacks, four interceptions, four offensive penalties, three passes for minus-yardage and five running plays for minus-yards.
Essentially the Chiefs' big offensive day came down to a 76-yard touchdown run by Jamaal Charles.
"Jamaal Charles continues to be a real bright spot for us," said coach Todd Haley. "I think there are a lot of good things going on with him in the pass game and the run game, even in the turnover situation when he made the tackle and forced the fumble."
Charles' long run allowed the Chiefs to put together one of their best rushing performances of the season, yet they were not able to consistently move the ball on the Buffalo side of the field. They ran the ball 13 times on the Bills' side of the 50-yard line and gained just 35 yards, or 2.7 yards per carry. On their own side of the 50, the Chiefs ran 13 times for 117 yards, or 9 yards per carry.
The KC defense got three turnovers and gave the ball to the offense twice in Bills territory. The offense gained 24 yards, one first down and no points from those opportunities.
"Offensively, we've got to capitalize on those turnovers," said Haley. "When we get the ball in those areas we've got to turn it into points. We weren't able to do that."
The Chiefs' offense has had more possessions than any other team in the league with 166. They've scored -- touchdown or field goal -- 38 times or 23 percent, well below the league average of 32 percent.
PREDICTION: Chiefs 20-16