The NFL season is coming to a thrilling climax with only eight teams remaining and there are some exciting matchups this weekend. The third of four games this weekend has the Cleveland Browns on the road to the number one seed Kansas City Chiefs (3.05pm ET Sunday; TV: Live on CBS).
The Browns shocked the world and were able to take down the Pittsburgh as fairly sizable underdogs. They jumped out to an impressive 28-0 lead early and didn’t look back. They were able to hold on for 48-37 victory. This was Cleveland’s first playoff win since 1994 and their first road playoff win since 1969. The Browns were able finally to overcome their division rival to advance to the Divisional round of the playoffs. They are now 1-17 in their last 18 games played in Pittsburgh. Will they be able to shock the world once again and defeat the Chiefs on the road? Read on for USA Betting’s full preview and Browns vs Chiefs predictions.
The Chiefs had the best record in the NFL at 14-2 and secured the number one seed in the AFC. They were not nearly as good against the spread during the regular season. They were only 7-9 ATS and were even worse against the spread at home with a record of 3-5. The Chiefs played in many close games and, while they were able to win most of them, they weren’t able to put teams away ultimately to cover the spread. They played in nine one-possession games throughout the regular season. The Chiefs were 7-1 straight up over their last eight games (they rested their starters in week 17 and lost to the Chargers), but they failed to cover in all eight of those games.
The Browns are currently the largest underdog on the board this week as a consensus +10 points on all the major books. If they want to have any chance keeping this game close and within the number they will need to be able to successfully run the ball.
Last week, against the Steelers, the Browns were able to add 127 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Running back Nick Chubb led the way with 76 yards rushing and fellow back Kareem Hunt picked up two touchdowns.
Where the Chiefs’ defense can be exploited most is on the ground, which lends to what the Browns do best. On the regular season the Chiefs ranked 19th in the NFL and allowed 122.2 rushing yards per game on average. The Browns were one of the better running attacks in the league. During the regular season Cleveland averaged 147.1 rushing yards per game. Look for the Browns to try to exploit the weaker rush defense and to get Chubb and Hunt going. If they are able to run the ball well I think they will be able to keep this within the number.
The Chiefs’ high-flying offense should be able to have success through the air against a secondary that allowed 500 yards passing and four touchdowns last week. The Browns ranked 25th and allowed 262.5 passing yards per game in the regular season.
Last week the Browns were without their best starting cornerback Denzel Ward due to a positive COVID test. It looks like he should be back this week and they will certainly need him against the Chiefs. He will be a key player to keep an eye on throughout the week.
During the regular season the Chiefs ranked 1st in the league in average passing yards per game (303.4) and 3rd in average passing touchdowns per game (2.5). They were the only team in the league that averaged 300.0 or more passing yards per game. They were tied for 3rd in average points scored per game (29.6).
Expect the Chiefs to be able to move the ball through the air and I will be looking at some Travis Kelce receiving props. The star tight end led the team in targets (145), receptions (105), and receiving yards (1,416). He averaged 7.0 receptions and 94.4 receiving yards per game. I will be keeping an eye on his player props when those are available and will likely be looking to play both his receptions and receiving yards over depending on the numbers. Kelce is Mahomes’ favorite target and I expect him to go to the tight end early and often.
Our Preview’s Browns vs Chiefs Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict
USA Betting is going to be taking the points with the underdog Browns. I don’t think they can shock the world and beat the Chiefs, but I do think they will be able to keep it close enough to cover. This line just feels a bit too high and we may see it climb even higher throughout the week as the public joins in to bet the Chiefs who are the far superior team.
Underdogs have done quite well against the number one seed in the Divisional Round. Divisional Round underdogs are 22-11-1 ATS against No. 1 seeds. During the regular season the Browns were 3-2 against the spread as road underdogs. I expect the Browns to control the game on the ground and try to keep Mahomes and the Chiefs’ explosive offense on the sideline. I think this could be one of the higher scoring games of the weekend, but the total is a bit too high for me to play. I see this being a 34-27 victory for the Chiefs and a cover for the Browns. So, to summarize the Cleveland vs Kanasa City predictions, this is the one pick: