Browns vs. Chiefs: NFL Divisional Round odds, preview, and pick
The Cleveland Browns will look to continue their Cinderella run on Sunday afternoon (3:05 p.m. ET, CBS) when they visit the defending Super Bowl champions in the Kansas City Chiefs.
Can the Browns bottle their most recent performance – a 48-37 triumph over the hated Pittsburgh Steelers – or will they play like they did in Week 16, when they lost to the hapless New York Jets? Here’s our betting preview.
Sun, January 17 2021, 8:05 PM
Browns should be able to establish the run
Though quarterback Baker Mayfield turned in a fine performance against Pittsburgh (21-for-34, 263 yards, three touchdowns), Cleveland remains a run-first operation. They’re third in the NFL in rushing yards per game thanks to the terrific tandem of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
Chubb extended his games-with-a-touchdown streak to seven with a highlight-reel reception in last Sunday’s victory. He had a solid 76 yards rushing on 18 carries as well. Hunt, used primarily in the passing game during the regular season, demonstrated his flexibility as he rushed for 48 yards and two scores against the Steelers.
The Chiefs seem ill-equipped to handle the Browns’ two-headed monster in the backfield, as they were 21st in stopping the run this year.
Browns and Chiefs statistics and rankings
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Kansas City Chiefs
Cleveland coaches, key players returning from COVID-19 list
Cleveland reportedly got an “all clear” on their latest round of COVID-19 tests, meaning head coach Kevin Stefanski and several of his assistants could return to the sidelines in Kansas City after being forced to miss Wild Card weekend.
Pro Bowl left guard Joel Bitonio and cornerback Denzel Ward were also held back last week due to virus protocols, but should return here.
Chiefs have been winning, but barely
Hall of Fame head coach Bill Parcells, who once said, “you are what your record says you are,” must love this year’s 14-2 Kansas City Chiefs. But most Chiefs bettors will probably find it hard to agree.
Even if one excludes last week’s loss to the Los Angeles Chargers – a game in which quarterback Patrick Mahomes and most of Kansas City’s regulars did not play – the Chiefs have still failed to cover in seven straight games (0-6-1). One would have to go back to Nov. 1’s 35-9 triumph over the Jets to find the last time Andy Reid and company cashed.
Red zone execution could make the difference
The Browns should have little trouble turning red zone trips into touchdowns on Sunday. They cashed in at a 72.4% clip this year, good for fourth in the NFL. The Chiefs stoppers allowed a league-worst 76.6% touchdown conversion rate inside their own 20-yard line.
On the other side of the ball, Kansas City’s offense turned 61% of their red zone trips into touchdowns, a modest 14th in the NFL. The Browns were 19th in opponent TD rate inside their own 20-yard line (63.1%).
Will the Chiefs cover against the Browns?
Trends say back the Browns
The Browns are 3-1 ATS over their last four road games following their outright victory against the Steelers. The Chiefs have failed to cover in four straight at home during their 0-7-1 ATS run. They’re also 1-4 ATS in their last five games as double-digit favorites.
Score prediction: Browns 31, Chiefs 27