The #1 ranked team in the AFC are fresh off their bye week and looking to get themselves back to the Super Bowl, but standing in their way are the Cleveland Browns who shocked everyone with their win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night to clinch their first Playoff win since New Years Day 1995! Can the Browns slay the giant or will the Chiefs march on to their third home AFC Championship Game in a row?
Cleveland got off to an unbelievable start against the Steelers on Sunday, finding themselves up 28-0 after the first quarter and they never looked back from there as they beat their long time tormentors 48-37. It was a very good and balanced performance from this typically run first, Browns offense and although they were given some short fields to work with they still had to put the points on the board and put point on the board they did. I expect the Browns to get back to their top three ranked run offense in this game, and against a Chiefs run defense which has struggled at times. Kareem Hunt had two TD’s in the Wildcard game and will be looking to produce something similar in his first outing against his former team. What is worrisome for the Browns is how their defense is going to hold up against the best passing attack in football, Cleveland gave up over 500 passing yards and 4 passing TD’s to the Steelers last week, and this is a Steelers offense who since week 12 had only posted north of 22 points just once, and although the Browns defense managed to turn the ball over 5 times on Sunday they can’t expect to be able to take the ball away from Patrick Mahomes that easily as Mahomes has only thrown 6 INT’s all season and the Chiefs don’t give the ball away cheaply very often. I think the Browns best form of defense will be to play complimentary offense by running the ball, draining the clock and trying to keep Mahomes and the big money players on the Chiefs offense on the sideline as often and for as long as possible, and luckily for the Browns they have a Running Back in Nick Chubb who had over 1000 rushing yards and 12 TD’s this season despite missing 4 regular season games due to injury, he’s had six 100+ rushing yard games so far this season and he’ll need another one here if the Browns are going to stand a chance of knocking off the World Champs.
Kansas City rested most of their starters for their last regular season game a couple of weeks again and with last week’s bye Patrick Mahomes and some of the other Chiefs starters haven’t played a game in two weeks, and there’s a worry that two weeks rest heading into a Playoff game isn’t ideal, and maybe some rustiness from the Chiefs is the Browns best and maybe only chance of an upset, after all, Patrick Mahomes has had another MVP calibre year whist pass catchers, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill both have over 1,200 receiving yards and double digit TD’s, so if the Chiefs don’t come out with a little rust then this game could be over before it starts. I don’t think this Browns secondary can stop this Chiefs offense from putting up points if they’re firing on all cylinders come Sunday, and the Browns are not helped by the fact that they don’t get after the passer well or often, Ben Roethlisberger dropped back to throw 68 times and didn’t take a single Sack, if Cleveland can’t get to Mahomes and rough him up then they’re going to be in for a long and uncomfortable day. The Chiefs defense is a good an playmaking, if not elite unit but as we’ve mentioned can sometimes struggle to stop the run. Ultimately I think unless the Browns can both run and pass the ball with success and are able to punch the ball into the endzone then this Chiefs defense will be able to do enough to keep the Browns offense to a score lower than the one Mahomes and the Chiefs offense posts.
A lot of people seem to be taking the Browns on a “gut feel” here and although I think they have a chance (albeit a small one) and it would make a great story (Imagine if we somehow get a Browns @ Bills AFC Championship Game, now wouldn’t that be the most 2020 thing 2021 could offer!) but this Chiefs offense is a juggernaut and I cant see the Browns scoring enough points to keep up with Kansas, so I like the Chiefs to win and remind everyone that they’re still the team to beat, not only in the AFC but in the whole of the NFL.
Our Best Bet segment might as well be named the Travis Kelce segment! The big Tight End has his U/O receptions line set at 7.5 which is a number he’s gone over in 7 straight games with Patrick Mahomes as his QB. I also like Kelce to get himself into the Endzone in this game, the Browns have given up 11 TD’s to Tight Ends this season whilst Kelce has 11 TD’s himself this season including a score in each of his last four games and has three TD’s in three career games against the Browns.
PREDICTION: CHIEFS 35 – 27 BROWNS
BEST BET: Travis Kelce OVER 7.5 Receptions – 5/6 with SkyBet. 1 point bet.
NEXT BEST: Travis Kelce ANYTIME TD – 4/6 with Betfair. 1 point bet.
WE ALSO LIKE: Travis Kelce to score a brace – 7/2 with Betfair. 0.5 point bet.
LONGSHOT OF THE WEEK: Travis Kelce to score a hattrick – 14/1 with SkyBet. 0.25 point bet.