The journey to back-to-back championships for the Kansas City Chiefs begins today as they welcome the upstart Cleveland Browns to Arrowhead Stadium for the final AFC Divisional Round matchup of the weekend (3.05pm ET Sunday; TV: Live on CBS).
Will this go with the form book or is an upset in the offing? Read our Chiefs vs Browns predictions and the full preview from USA Betting.
Due to having the best record in the NFL, the Chiefs had a first-round bye and a front row seat to see what their opponents did to the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. It would be correct to say that the Browns impressed most of the country as well as those in Kansas City, with their dominant victory over their AFC North opponents. That’s not to say the Browns winning at all was unexpected, but rather the manner in which Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb and Cleveland’s offense picked apart Pittsburgh’s defense. Not to mention the way Cleveland’s own defense, which hasn’t been the best this year, made two-time Super Bowl winner Ben Roethlisberger, look like an inexperienced rookie. They did all of this without coach of the year nominee Kevin Stefanski on the field.
The Pittsburgh game opened a lot of eyes. Just a week prior, Cleveland almost missed out on the playoffs at the hands of the Steelers. It was not the same Steelers the team played last weekend. This was a Pittsburgh team that having already clinched their playoff spot, rested much of their starters. It was Mason Rudolph, not Roethlisberger, that almost beat the Browns. Perhaps that lit a fire under the team. Despite the Steelers’ recent struggles, not many gave Cleveland a chance against Pittsburgh’s first stringers. It seems all of that served as motivation because the Browns came out as a team on a mission, to the tune of 28 unanswered points, in the first quarter. While the final score showed just an 11-point win for the Browns, the game itself was much more one-sided than that.
It was the first time in nearly two decades that the Browns reached the playoffs and clearly, the team wasn’t satisfied with just making it there. The win was more than symbolic too. It was a message to the rest of the AFC. The Browns are here to stay.
Now, that all said, the team Cleveland will face today will present more of a challenge. Kansas City watched a team with everything to prove put it all on the line in one of the best wild card performances in recent memory. The Chiefs are defending their championship title but as they say, victory can make you complacent. The Browns are anything but. Mayfield is playing the best football of his career, the offensive line is keeping him upright and Chubb can be a real wrecking ball. Sure Cleveland isn’t made up of a roster of Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce etc, but there is talent there. Today, win or lose, Cleveland should put in a more than respectable performance.
A New Dynasty?
When Andy Reid left the Philadelphia Eagles after a 13-year tenure with the team, he left with a reputation of not quite being good enough. Reid took the Eagles to several NFC Championships but won just one. He reached one Super Bowl and lost. The guy was always coming so close but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades as the old saying goes. Philadelphia was ready to move on and they did, having found a Super Bowl winning coach of their own. Reid landed in KC and landed Mahomes in the draft. Suddenly, everything turned around. From the best coach to never have won a Super Bowl to one who is on the verge of possibly winning back-to-back titles, Reid’s legacy is special. In KC, he, alongside Mahomes could quite possibly be creating the NFL’s next great dynasty.
Right now, it’s hard to look at the Chiefs and find any weaknesses. This is a team that was built so well that they even managed to strike gold picking last in the draft. Clyde Edwards-Helaire didn’t waste any time in becoming a contributor on a team that already has so many. On offense, the Chiefs have an insane amount of weapons at Mahomes’ disposal. It’s no wonder he’s been the best quarterback in the league. His talent alone has always been unquestioned but KC has built around him in a way that has helped contribute to their massive success.
The word dynasty doesn’t often get thrown around in sports but should the Chiefs win another Super Bowl, the team will be well on their way to earning that crown.
Our Preview’s KC Chiefs vs Cleveland Browns Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict
When it comes to the AFC, there are a lot of young strong teams, all vying for that top spot. This year’s divisional round is testament to that as all of the QBs starting games are on the right side of 30. None have been in the league more than six years and yet, each has earned their spot on this stage.
Mahomes had already established his spot at the top but this year, Mayfield took a big step toward doing the same. In doing so, he helped lead the Browns to their best season in some time. Cleveland is on their way up, there is no denying that. The question is, are they quite there? It’s hard to envision the Browns beating the Chiefs but to count them out entirely would be a mistake.
Mayfield proved last week he has what it takes to compete in a shootout and it’s very likely today’s Sunday game will have the makings of that kind of contest. What it might come down to is if Mayfield can go shot for shot with Mahomes and right now, it doesn’t seem like he’s quite there. So our Chiefs vs Browns predictions and preview concludes with these picks:
- Take the Chiefs on the moneyline but we like the Browns to cover the spread. 10 points just feels too high for a game that has the potential to go score for score. Bet Cleveland +10pts @ -115 with Bovada or Intertops. It is -120 with Bookmaker and BetOnline.
- Take the over 57 total points @ best odds of -105 with BetOnline.
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.