With the memory of last year’s Super Bowl defeat still fresh in their minds, the Kansas City Chiefs kick off the 2021 NFL season with a home game against the Cleveland Browns. Of course, the Browns were beaten by Kansas City in last year’s playoffs, so the two teams have an immediate rematch in Week 1.
At home, the Chiefs are 5.5-point favorites, with the over/under set at 54.5 points.
Despite the loss in the playoffs last year, the Browns are no doubt still excited about going 11-5 last season and earning their first playoff win since 1994. Of course, now comes the hard part when the Browns have to deal with preseason expectations. On top of that, they begin the season against the two-time reigning AFC champs.
Speaking of the Chiefs, one has to think it’s Super Bowl or bust for them in 2021. Most sportsbooks list the Chiefs as the betting favorites to win Super Bowl LVI this season. It’s likely that Andy Reid and company will consider anything less to be a disappointment.
Same Old Story
The only real question facing the Kansas City Chiefs offense this year is how long it’ll take the new offensive line to gel. That unit was the team’s downfall against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl and was completely remade this past offseason. Other than that, Patrick Mahomes is still surrounded by one of the best set of skill players in the NFL.
The Cleveland defense should provide an immediate test for the Kansas City offensive line with Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, the team’s edge rushers. The Browns also look good in the secondary, with Greedy Williams and Denzel Ward at cornerback and John Johnson joining the unit at safety. However, if the Chiefs can establish their running game early, they can mitigate some of the strengths of the Cleveland defense.
Run and Run
On the offensive side of the ball, the Cleveland Browns will be all about running the ball. The backfield tandem of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt has a chance to be one of the best in the NFL once again while helping to take the pressure off Baker Mayfield. Of course, Mayfield had his moments last season and will have familiar faces at wide receiver, most notably Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, Jr.
To be fair, the Chiefs don’t look that bad defensively when everyone is healthy. The defensive line has some serious difference-makers with Frank Clark, Chris Jones, and Jarran Reed. That unit should lead the way and allow Anthony Hitches and the other linebackers to help contain the Cleveland rushing attack. However, there could be weaknesses in the secondary if the Browns throw the ball when they want to and not when they have to air it out.
Don’t Doubt the Champs
A leaky offensive line is all that separates the Chiefs from back-to-back championships. While those questions have yet to be answered this year, the rest of the team has clear advantages over the Browns, most notably at quarterback. In Week 1, it’d be foolish not to think that Mahomes and the Chiefs will be able to win and cover.
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