Throughout the NFL season, fans and pundits searched for the biggest threat to knock off the defending Super Bowl champions. At times, the Cleveland Browns (12-5) were thought to have the best chance at unseating the Kansas City Chiefs (14-2). After securing their first playoff victory in over two decades, the Browns will have their chance.
With the two sides bringing in high-powered offenses, this game might resemble that of a Big 12 showdown rather than an NFL Divisional Round game. Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield are both capable of airing it out and putting up crazy points.
The Chiefs are -10 against the Browns in what is the most lopsided spread of the NFL Divisional Round. Cleveland is +400 on the moneyline and the total is set to 56 points.
Neither team has had much success against the spread this year. The Browns are 7-10, including last week’s blowout win over the Pittsburgh Steelers during Wild Card Weekend. Meanwhile, the Chiefs aren’t much better at 7-8-1.
Via FanDuel sportsbook 58% of point spread tickets and 58% of the overall money bet on the game is on the Cleveland Browns.
|Passer||Completions||Passing Yards||Passing TDs|
|Baker Mayfield (CLE)||22.5 (O -110 | U -110)||262.5 (O -115 | U -115)||1.5 (O -125 | U -105)|
|Patrick Mahomes (KC)||27.5 (O +100 | U -130)||316.5 (O -115) | U -115)||2.5 (O -105 | U -125)|
|Rusher||Rushing Attempts||Rushing Yards||Rushing + Receiving Yards|
|Nick Chubb (CLE)||15.5 (O -120 | U -110)||69.5 (O -110 | U -120)||86.5 (O -115 | U -115)|
|Kareem Hunt (CLE)||7.5 (O -125 | U -105)||31.5 (O -115) | U -115)||51.5 (O -115 | U -115)|
|Baker Mayfield (CLE)||N/A||13.5 (O -115) | U -115)||N/A|
|Patrick Mahomes (KC)||N/A||18.5 (O -120) | U -110)||N/A|
|Receiver||Receptions||Receiving Yards||Longest Reception|
|Jarvis Landry (CLE)||4.5 (O -175 | U +145)||57.5 (O -115 | U -115)||21.5 (O -105 | U -125)|
|Rashard Higgins (CLE)||3.5 (O +100 | U -130)||46.5 (O -115 | U -115)||20.5 (O -120 | U -110)|
|Austin Hooper (CLE)||3.5 (O -150 | U +120)||45.5 (O -115 | U -115)||19.5 (O -105 | U -125)|
|Donovan Peoples-Jones (CLE)||1.5 (O -160 | U +130)||22.5 (O -115 | U -115)||15.5 (O -120 | U -110)|
|Travis Kelce (KC)||7.5 (O -115 | U -115)||88.5 (O -115 | U -115)||24.5 (O -120 | U -110)|
|Tyreek Hill (KC)||6.5 (O -110 | U -120)||83.5 (O -115 | U -115)||26.5 (O -110 | U -120)|
|Demarcus Robinson (KC)||3.5 (O +130 | U -160)||39.5 (O -115 | U -115)||19.5 (O -110 | U -120)|
|Mecole Hardman (KC)||2.5 (O -170 | U +140)||34.5 (O -110 | U -120)||17.5 (O -120 | U -110)|
The Browns are the first team that has a chance to knock off the Chiefs in these playoffs. No one could do it last year, but the Browns are riding high after dominating the Steelers last week. Still, Mahomes and the Chiefs will be well-rested and on the warpath after sitting most of their starters in Week 17 and getting the bye. Let’s take a deeper look at both teams.
Have you heard of Patrick Mahomes? Yes? Well, then you know that he is a nightmare for opposing defenses. That won’t be any different this week against the Browns. Mahomes can make all the throws and he has two of the best weapons in the NFL — Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. That trio led Kansas City to the top of the NFL in passing yards per game (303.4) and sixth in the league in scoring (29.6 points per game).
Rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire missed the end of the regular season with a high ankle sprain, but there’s a chance he could be back in the lineup on Sunday. If not, the Chiefs will turn to former All-Pro Le’Veon Bell to lead the charge on the ground. No matter what, Kansas City has plenty of offensive firepower for a big day against Cleveland.
Defensively, the Chiefs will have to focus on stopping the run. Of course, we all know Mayfield is capable of putting up big numbers through the air, but Cleveland prefers to establish the ground game. Kansas City ranks 21st in the NFL in rushing defense (122.1 yards per game). That’s an area that could be vulnerable.
Speaking of that Browns rushing attack, this duo has a lot to prove this week. Kareem Hunt was let go by the Chiefs for off-the-field reasons. Still, he’s highly motivated to stick it to his old team, even if they were justified in letting the running back go.
But Hunt only makes up for half of the rushing attack. Nick Chubb is the starter and he’s arguably one of the best backs in football. He ran for 1,067 yards and 12 touchdowns on 5.6 yards per carry in 12 games. The Browns can beat teams in a variety of ways, but it all starts with Chubb and Hunt in the backfield.
On the defensive side of the ball, Cleveland ranks in the bottom half of the NFL by most metrics. That’s not good news for a team that’s preparing to go up against Mahomes and company.
Let’s give the Browns credit for what they have done this season. They battled through injuries, coronavirus outbreaks, and a bunch of adversity in general. However, the Chiefs are the end of the line for Cleveland.
The Chiefs failed to cover against lesser teams during the regular season. It felt like they were playing with their food at times, but we don’t expect that trend to carry over to the playoffs. It’s time for Kansas City to kick it into high gear and start their Super Bowl run. Take the Chiefs laying the points.