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|Kansas City Chiefs||-10
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Sure, Kansas City might come out on top here, but the way the Browns have been producing on offense, it does not seem likely that Mahomes and company will cover this broad spread, so take Cleveland and the points.
Browns +10 (-112)
|Browns vs Chiefs Information|
|What||Cleveland Browns vs Kansas City Chiefs|
|Where||Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO|
|When||Sunday, January 17, 2021; 3:05 PM ET|
|How to watch||CBS|
The Cleveland Browns beat up their biggest rivals, the highly favored Pittsburgh Steelers, in the Wild Card round – final score 48-37 after the Browns scored an NFL record 28 points in the first quarter alone – and now quarterback Baker Mayfield and running back Nick Chubb and former Chief Kareem Hunt should have the full squad together for this one, including HC Kevin Stefanski, an uphill battle in KC that his playoff hungry team can’t wait to have.
The defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs had a sweet week of rest thanks to the first-round bye they earned by posting a 14-2 record and winning the AFC West, with quarterback Patrick Mahomes and HC Andy Reid making it clear that they do not underestimate this lower-seeded Cleveland opponent, though the entire football world including the oddsmakers are thinking this one could get out of hand.
These two AFC rivals have played each other 26 prior times, with the Kansas City Chiefs winning 13 of those games and the Cleveland Browns winning 11 of the games, plus they have also tied twice.
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The Browns have slowly improved against the pass, now ranked 7th in the league in that category after allowing opponents to throw for an average of 217 yards per game but will that be enough to take care of the powerhouse combo of Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill.
Those two have combined for 87 catches this season for 1,276 yards and 15 touchdowns, and more importantly, Hill is averaging 9.5 yards per catch and with his speed, he can take it to the house, his longest reception this season being for 75 yards.
Cleveland’s secondary has suffered from season-ending injuries and COVID scares, but it looks like at least CB Denzel Ward will be healthy enough to suit up for this one, maybe the only pass protector on the Browns who can come even close to tracking Hill the ‘Cheetah’ down the field.
The Chiefs are a bit shaky against the run this season, right now ranked 26th in that category after letting opponents gain 128 yards on the ground per game on average, but that will not be enough to take care of what the Browns bring to the table when it comes to rushing, a two-pronged attack co-starring a player once formerly a Chief.
That’s RB Kareem Hunt, who led the league in rushing his rookie season as a Chief, who now teams up with Nick Chubb out of Cleveland’s backfield, two dynamic runners who can also catch the ball and gain extra yards, an attack that is tough to game plan around.
The Chiefs will need a big game from linebackers Anthony Hitchens, Damien Wilson, and rookie Willie Gay Jr, who would be smart to tackle low and as a group on Sunday since the so-called ‘CHUNT’ is coming to town.
After having an impressive rookie season, Browns QB Baker Mayfield flopped during his sophomore run, when he looked constantly panicked and made unwise decisions as he tried his best to create a passing game despite a weak offensive line.
That has been fundamentally changed, and now the Browns field one of the better O-lines in the league right now, and Mayfield’s game has improved accordingly, with his newer footwork and bootleg move helping him throw more accurately, with just one interception in the entire second half of the regular season.
After smoking the Steelers in the Wild Card game, these Browns have proven they can win big games under pressure, so watch for the underdog Mayfield to carry that constant chip on his shoulder to KC and give these highly favored Chiefs a run for their postseason money.
Since running back Le’Veon Bell came to Kansas City from the Jets earlier in the regular season, he has become a decent part of Kansas City’s rushing attack, so far averaging 4 yards per carry and posting 2 touchdowns in nine games.
Time for Bell to step up, especially against this Cleveland team who is just 30th against the run, a team that Bell should have fond memories of attacking from back in the days when he was a success with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Bell faces a future that could be a lot brighter with a big game on Sunday, and this could be the perfect team to make that happen against if he is given enough touches from HC Andy Reid.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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