The NFL season is officially underway and if this first Sunday slate of games is anything like the opener we were treated to, this is going to be a great season. Heading into today we’ve chosen to focus on a rematch of last year’s AFC Divisional playoff between the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs (4:25pm ET; TV: Live on CBS).
The playoff game between the upstart Browns and championship-favorite Chiefs was an absolute thriller. It was a game that Cleveland had every chance to win and likely believe they should have. Let’s take you back. Sorry Browns, fans.
Cleveland had to believe destiny was on their side. In their first postseason appearance in 18 years, Cleveland had to feel good about their chances. They had just soundly defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers and had many believing they could legitimately challenge the league’s top dogs.
Then the Browns received a gift in the form of a concussion to Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs were without their biggest weapon and best star. They were without the man who was one of the biggest reasons behind their Super Bowl win the year prior and the man who was expected to take them to the promised land once more. If ever there was a chance for Cleveland, it was then. The Browns had a lead late in the game but the Chiefs backup, Chad Henne, managed to do just enough.
Coupled with Kansas City’s great offensive weapons and strong head coaching, the Chiefs won and proceeded to defeat the Buffalo Bills to advance to their second consecutive Super Bowl. The Browns were left wondering ‘what if’.
On one hand, just getting to the playoffs was a huge sigh of relief for Cleveland as the franchise had been in such a state of disarray for nearly two decades. On the other, the Browns have to look at that game as a real missed opportunity, one they may look to rectify today.
As Browns’ QB Baker Mayfield said following that game, it gave him and his teammates the taste. The Browns enter 2021-22 fully expecting not just to make the playoffs, but to make some noise there too. They are projected to be one of the AFC’s top teams and here, they’ll face a real litmus test.
It will come against a Chiefs team that senses their own missed opportunity. A second consecutive Super Bowl slipped right through their hands last year and there is no doubt the Chiefs want to change that result this year. In fact, Mahomes is so confident he’s even predicting a 20-0 season for Kansas City. The crazy thing is, the Chiefs are good enough that you can’t just laugh that prediction off as the ramblings of a mad man. If any team has a shot at history, it’s the Chiefs.
As mentioned in this preview and predictions analysis above, there are many marquee games set for opening Sunday but this one may be the best. It is a playoff rematch but if all goes well for these two franchises, it could well be a playoff preview as well. Both the Chiefs and Browns certainly have the talent to get to the AFC Championship game. Defensively, Cleveland is rock solid and offensively, no offense is more explosive than Kansas City’s. When the rubber meets the road today, we’ll find out if iron will indeed sharpen iron.
How Good Can Mahomes Be?
Patrick Mahomes is a phenom. There is almost no way to explain how good he is and some of the plays he makes. So it is no surprise that Mahomes is once again one of the prohibitive favorites to win the AFC MVP. Today Mahomes will face the man who almost ended his season last year in Mack Wilson. Most quarterbacks might be uneasy in that kind of situation but Mahomes isn’t most quarterbacks. That MVP campaign starts here and Mahomes will no doubt be ready to go, especially given the Chiefs retooled their offensive line in order to let their star work his magic.
Mahomes has been one of the least sacked QBs in the league so it is certainly a bold move to have five new men guarding his back but the Chiefs are confident in the group they assembled. They will need to be, given the Browns defense is a juggernaut. Cleveland’s run defense in particular is tough, something that will certainly test Kansas City’s line early on.
This is Mahomes we’re talking about. The man hadn’t faced a test he couldn’t ace until last year’s Super Bowl. As good as the Browns defense is and as new as the Chiefs line is, it shouldn’t be an issue for the MVP hopeful.
What Should the Browns Expect from Odell Beckham Jr.?
In 2020, the Cleveland Browns made the most significant step in their rebuilding process. They largely did it with one of the guys expected to be a huge contributor pretty much a non-factor. Odell Beckham Jr. hasn’t been the same playmaker that he was back in his New York Giants days but the potential is still there. He just has to stay healthy. If he does, he can become a huge weapon again and that’s music to the Browns’ ears.
By all accounts, Beckham has looked good lately but this will certainly be a test to see what Beckham has left in the tank. The thing is though, he is still only just 28 years old. It is hard to imagine he won’t be able to capture that explosiveness once again. Beckham will make the Browns offense that much more dangerous and will give the passing game a new dimension. Nick Chubb is a great rusher but with the deep threat of Beckham, Mayfield may be able to have his best year yet under center.
Our Preview’s Cleveland Browns vs Kansas City Chiefs Predictions & Betting Picks Conclusion
The Kansas City Chiefs have the loudest stadium in football and that’s not just them saying that. The team actually set a World Record a few years ago breaking the sound meter. So when people say it’s tough to play there, they aren’t full of hot air. The home field advantage is as significant as Soldier Field used to be for the Chicago Bears or Lambeau Field still is for the Green Bay Packers.
The Chiefs are nearly undefeated there in the last few years and that’s important to note. The Browns are much improved and they will give Kansas City a tough and close game, but don’t bet against Mahomes at home. So these are our Browns at Chiefs predictions and picks:
- Take the Chiefs -5.5pts @ best odds of -110 with BetOnline.
- Look for the over on 54.5 total points @ -110 with Bovada or Intertops.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.