The Cleveland Browns begin the season on the road in an AFC showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs in a rematch of the 2020 divisional playoff. Cleveland posted an 11-5 record in 2020. The Chiefs won the AFC West with a 14-2 record and of course, lost in the Super Bowl. It was the Chiefs eliminating the Browns by a narrow 22-17 score in last year’s divisional playoff game.
Browns Enter Season with Lofty Expectations
The Cleveland Browns head into the season with big expectations after qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 2002 last season. This team has the talent on offense and defense to possibly win the AFC North over the Ravens and Steelers, but it won’t be easy.
Baker Mayfield rebounded from an uninspiring sophomore season with a terrific 2020. The 26-year old tallied over 3500 passing yards complemented by a 26:8 TD to INT ratio. He recorded 204 passing yards in last year's playoff loss against the Chiefs.
Cleveland features of the NFL’s best rushing units. They ranked 3rd in rushing yards per game in 2020 propelled by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Chubb finished 2020 with 1067 yards and averaged a dazzled 5.5 yards per carry. Hunt is up against his former team in this one.The Browns have a talented receiving core led by Odell Beckham Jr. The 28-year old star only played in seven games in 2020 due to injury. If healthy, he should eclipse 1000 yards.
The Browns' defense is highlighted by star defensive end Myles Garrett. The 25-year old made 12 sacks and 15 tackles for a loss last season. They also added DE Jadeveon Clowney and CB Troy Hill who made three interceptions with the Rams in 2020.
Cleveland scored an average of 25.5 points in 2020, ranking them 14th in the NFL. They allowed an average of 26.2 points, landing them 21st overall.
Chiefs Primed for Another Big Season
The Kansas Chiefs are considered Super Bowl contenders once again after falling to Tom Brady and the Bucs in the 2020 bowl. The Chiefs made sure to address any weaknesses in the offseason which should pay dividends. The offensive line was an issue at times and they acted by signing former Pats lineman Joe Thuney to a huge $80 million deal to offer Mahomes better protection in the pocket.
Patrick Mahomes had another elite 2020 season, ranking 2nd in the NFL with 4740 passing yards accompanied by a 38:6 TD to INT ratio in 15 regular-season games played. The 25-year old shined in the playoff against the Browns last year, collecting 255 passing yards before going down with a concussion.
The offense has playmakers all over the field. Clyde-Edwards Helaire had a big rookie season, rushing for over 800 yards in 13 games. Helaire is dealing with an ankle injury but is expected to play. Tight End Travis Kelce and WR Tyreek Hill should eclipse 1000 receiving yards with ease again this year. They no longer have Sammy Watkins.
The Kansas City defense was slightly above average in 2020. The big names such as Frank Clark, L’Jarius Sneed, and Tyrann Mathieu are primed for bis seasons. Mathieu is on the COVID list and his status for this one is undetermined.
The Chiefs ranked sixth overall with 29.9 points per game in 2020. The defense allowed an average of 22.6 points, good for 10th in the NFL.
The Cleveland Browns are:
- 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games at KC.
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games as a road underdog.
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games.
The Kansas City Chiefs are:
- 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games against the AFC.
- 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games as a favorite.
- 1-5 ATS in their last 6 home games.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Browns are the real deal. Many NFL analysts have them winning the AFC North ahead of Pittsburgh and Baltimore and they have the talent on offense and defense to give the Chiefs all they can handle. I like this matchup on the ground. The Browns have one of the top running games in the NFL propelled by Chubb along with former Chief Kareem Hunt and KC will give up yards on the ground. They allowed an average of 122 rushing yards per game in 2020, ranking them 21st overall.
Furthermore, the Browns defense is solid. The secondary was improved in the offseason and while Mahomes will likely have his usual success, the Browns rush defense should make it tough on the ground. They ranked ninth in rush defense and RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire is coming off a high ankle sprain. These foes played in a close 22-17 meeting in last year’s playoff and the Browns have the ability to possibly win this game.
Full-Game Total Pick
This is one of the highest totals in the NFL this week. The offensive capability is obviously there however the defense on the Browns and Chiefs is solid. Cleveland held their opponent 25 or fewer points in seven out of their last 10 games last season and limited the Chiefs to 22 points.
In addition, the Browns have a productive offense however, KC’s defense should be better than last year. It won’t be easy for Baker Mayfield to generate a ton of offense in the air against an effective pass defense that was slightly above average last year. The under cashed in the meeting last season and it should hit again.
Full-Game Prop Bet
The over on the Browns team total is worth a look. The Browns are known for defense but the offense is looking good with a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. and #2 WR Jarvis Landry. This complements their potent running game. Cleveland was able to average 5.5 yards per carry against the Chiefs in last year’s playoff and it should propel them to quite a few scoring drives.
Half-Time Prop Prediction
I am going with the under on the first-quarter total. KC wasn’t overly productive in the opening quarter in 2020, averaging 5.4 points, ranking them 13th overall. The same applies to Cleveland who only posted 5.2 points. Defensively these foes were solid as each team allowed an average of 4.7 points in the first quarter.