- Adam Teicher, ESPN Staff Writer
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A weekly analysis of the Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback play:
Rewind: Alex Smith was 23-of-34 for 240 yards with zero touchdowns and an interception in the Chiefs’ 17-16 win over the Houston Texans. Those numbers were an improvement for Smith in terms of completion percentage (67.6) and yards per attempt (7.1). The interception in the fourth quarter could have been costly but it wasn't necessarily Smith’s fault. The intended receiver, Dexter McCluster, appeared to be interfered with, but no penalty was called.
Fast-forward: The Cleveland Browns haven’t been consistently yielding big numbers to opposing passers. Quarterbacks have been able to complete fewer than 60 percent of their passes against the Browns and that’s below the league average. Cornerback Joe Haden is one of the league’s best in coverage, so that could provide problems for a group of Chiefs wide receivers already struggling to get open on a consistent basis.
Red-zone problems: Smith hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in three weeks after passing for seven scores in the first four games. That’s the biggest reason the Chiefs are struggling to get touchdowns while venturing inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. They’ve scored just five TDs in 13 red zone trips (38.5 percent) over those three games. Smith had tight end Sean McGrath open in the end zone on a fourth-down play from the goal line against Houston, but couldn’t get him the ball in bounds.
Prediction: Given what the Chiefs have going against them this week, it’s difficult to predict that Smith will have a breakout game. Instead, look for modest improvements in completion percentage and yards per attempt like he made last week.