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Browns ready for 'another difficult challenge' in Kansas City

By Hayden Grove

Special to

As the Browns and Chiefs line up on opposites sides of the field at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, they'll do so facing different circumstances.

The Chiefs are as hot as any team in the NFL— currently riding the NFL's second-longest winning streak at eight games— and can clinch a playoff berth with a win over Cleveland on Sunday.

The Browns, on the other hand, have lost eight of their last nine contests and have already been eliminated from any playoff conversation.

No matter the stark contrast, Mike Pettine said the Browns will be ready for anything Kansas City may throw Cleveland's way.

"No hiding from it, it's another difficult challenge," Pettine said. "We'll go out there, step up to the plate and take a big swing at it."

Part of Kansas City's pitch will be hot-handed quarterback Alex Smith, who currently leads NFL starting quarterbacks with only four interceptions thrown this season.

Pettine admitted Smith is largely responsible for the Chiefs' winning ways as of late, while maintaining that quarterback play is largely a product of those that surround the position.

"When you look at why they have won eight in a row, I think that's the easy answer when you look at it," Pettine said of Smith. "He's playing at a very high level."

Though Smith may be at the forefront of Kansas City's efficient offense, head coach Andy Reid is partially responsible for the success of the quarterback and the overall offense, as well, Pettine said.

"I think Andy Reid does an outstanding job of matching what he has talent wise to the scheme, takes advantage of what his guys do," he said. "They're doing a lot of good things that put (Smith) on the run and put stress on the defense."

While Smith and the Kansas City offense will prove a tough challenge for Cleveland's defense, the Browns' offense will face a Chiefs defense that is playing as well as any in the league.

Browns quarterback Duke Johnson Jr. said the key to success on offense against Kansas City is to protect the football, as the Chiefs are ranked fourth in the league with 27 takeaways this season.

"This is a team that thrives on getting takeaways," Manziel said. "The worst situation we want to come out of every drive, the worst case is going to be a punt."

With an offense that doesn't commit turnovers and a defense that takes the ball away, the Chiefs already pose quite the challenge for the Browns on the field, but there's even more that awaits Cleveland in Kansas City.

Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium is known to house some of the loudest fans in football, making for a miserable environment for visiting teams.

Luckily, the Browns went through a similar circumstance in Seattle last Sunday and will look to use that ear-splitting experience to their advantage.

"We're going to go on the road to a tough environment, playing a team that's on a roll," Pettine said. "(It's a) very difficult place to play, especially late in the year, but it's a challenge that we look forward to."

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