Browns (+10) @ Chiefs
Last week's upset win over the Pittsburgh Steelers was a bit of a surprise to most people - except for the Cleveland Browns themselves, of course - and when you start going into the layers of that AFC North matchup with the Browns' AFC north rival Steelers, it really set up well for Cleveland to pull out the outright victory and upset at Heinz Field. The Browns hadn’t made the playoffs since 2002, hadn’t beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh since 2009 (losing 17 straight games in the process), and they also hadn’t been able to practice most of the week because of COVID-19 in addition to not having their head coach Kevin Stefanski, starting left guard Joel Bitonio and offensive line coach Bill Calahan available to be on the sidelines. The Browns pretty much had nothing to lose, and the Steelers gave them some added motivation by making comments before the game about them being the “same old Browns."
The Steelers found out very quickly in that wild card weekend matchup that they weren’t playing those "same old Browns," as Cleveland took advantage of the Steelers' early mistakes and jumped out to 28-0 first-quarter lead. This week, the Browns are expected to have everyone available that had to miss last week, and out of all the playoff teams left, they could possibly be the most dangerous because nobody is expecting them to win again and they’ve already proven they have the personnel to do just that. Neither of these teams have proven that they can stop the other’s strength, with the Kansas City Chiefs wanting to move the ball through the air with Patrick Mahomes and his dynamic pass-catching duo in Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill looking to attack Cleveland's pass-funnel secondary. The Browns, on the other hand, want to move the ball on the ground early and often with the elite RB tandem of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
The Chiefs average 303 passing yards per game (ranking 1st) while the Browns give up 247 yards through the air (ranking bottom 10). The Browns were one of the top three rushing teams in the league this season - averaging 148 yards on the ground - while the Chiefs gave up 122 yards on the ground (ranking bottom 10). This matchup will simply come down to which team can take care of the ball and not turn it over, all while executing their offense and establishing their preferred style of play. The Browns have covered four of their last six games coming into this matchup, while the Chiefs are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games and 3-7 ATS this year as a favorite of seven points or more. I believe that the Browns are in a similar situation to last week, when they had seemingly had nothing to lose and could possibly catch their opponent trying to work off some rust. The Chiefs, just like the Steelers, rested a majority of their starters in Week 17 and are coming off the bye as the AFC's number one overall seed from last week. Most of Kansas City's starters haven't played a meaningful football game in three weeks (since Week 16). I like Cleveland getting the 10.
Like: Browns +10