CLEVELAND BROWNS @ KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Probably the game of Week 1 as we get a re-match of one of the better post-season games from last season as the Browns look for revenge against a Chiefs team that knocked them out of the Playoffs on their way to another Super Bowl appearance. 

The reigning back-to-back AFC Champion Chiefs are looking to win the conference for the third time in a row, and when you look at the team they have it’s hard to see how they’re going to be stopped. An offense that boasts the best QB & TE in football, and arguably the best WR too are always going to put up points, the question is how can you limit the number of points they can score so your offense isn’t left with an impossible task? It’s not as simple as referring to the Super Bowl, yes the Bucs beat the breaks off the Chiefs in Tampa, but this was a depleted Chiefs O-Line that gave an already strong Bucs D a free run at Mahomes, whilst the Bucs offense is as talented as you’ll come across outside of Kansas. So, how do mere mortal teams do it? First, comes pressure, you have to be able to affect Patrick Mahomes, and that’s about the best you can hope for on the defensive side. On offense? Obviously, you have to put points on the board, but going shootout with those KC cats doesn’t tend to end very well, because the quicker you score, the quicker their offense gets the ball back, and my bet is your offense will stop scoring before KC’s does. So a good run-first offense would help, the ability to not only score points but eat the clock and make the money players on the Chiefs team sit on the sidelines for long drives, the less time they have the ball the less time they have to score points. I guess the next question is, do we know any teams that have a difference-making pass rush or rusher and an offense that runs the ball well and can put up points? 

How about the Cleveland Browns? A great 1-2 punch in the backfield with Nick Chubb & Kareem Hunt that ranked 3rd in rush offense last year and arguably the best pass rusher in the NFL in Myles Garrett? Now obviously these pieces on their own aren’t enough to make Cleveland favourites, but they already have the right idea and some improvements from the secondary and some help for Myles Garrett could be enough to slow KC down enough for the Browns offense to control the clock and put pressure on KC’s offense instead of needing to score every time they see the field for fear of the Chiefs pulling out of sight. So, we have the game plan, and the Browns potentially have the guys for the job, but I can’t call them to win the game. The Chiefs at home are a force of nature and I’ll have to see it before I believe it if Cleveland are going to walk into Arrowhead and take a W in Week 1. 

As for my favourite bets, there are some lines on Cleveland’s side that I like. Starting with Baker Mayfield, the QBs passing yards and attempts line for this game feel too inflated, with passing yards O/U 264.5 & attempts at O/U 36.5 I can’t help but feel we’re being gifted this line. Baker only threw for over 265 yards in 5 games last season whilst only attempting 37 or more passes in 4 games! Add this to the fact the Browns want to run the ball and I think we’ll see the under hit on both of those lines. If you’re looking for an over-play in this game I like Nick Chubb to have more than the 13.5 rushing attempts the bookies have him marked for, Chubb played 11 full regular-season games in 2020 and had at least 14 rush attempts in 9 of those games. With stats like that, I can’t not play it.

Spread Chiefs: -5

Total Match Points line: O/U 54.0

Game Prediction: Chiefs 31 – 26 Browns

Best Bet: Nick Chubb over 13.5 rush attempts, Baker Mayfield under 264.5 passing yards & 36.5 pass attempts @ 9/2 with Bet 365 Bet Builder. [0.5]

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