Chiefs vs. Browns Betting Predictions

Kansas City Chiefs vs Cleveland Browns NFL Divisional Round
Kansas City vs. Cleveland, NFL Betting Predictions, Divisional Round, January 17

The AFC playoffs run through Arrowhead Stadium and the first team to get a crack at the defending champions are the Cleveland Browns. They might still be celebrating on the shores of Lake Erie after the Browns overcame missing their head coach, several other position coaches and several starters to throttle the rival Pittsburgh Steelers last week. But the Kansas City Chiefs are a much tougher task, one that I’m not sure the Browns are prepared to tackle. The Chiefs don’t blow out teams anymore, but they should book a spot in the AFC Championship Game for a third straight year on Sunday.

Chiefs vs. Browns Betting Odds

Cleveland certainly looked like the No. 3 rushing attack in the NFL during last week’s win over Pittsburgh. It will be on the legs of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt on Sunday if the Browns can pull off the upset in the Divisional round game. Cleveland dealt with a lot of adversity last week as it couldn’t practice and were missing numerous players and coaches due to positive COVID-19 tests. The hope is all of them should return for this week’s game, but the Browns proved they could handle the pressure of the moment in holding off the Steelers. A big reason was how effective Chubb and Hunt were on the ground on first downs and in key moments. Cleveland blocked extremely well to open up holes for the two running backs, and that will need to be the same this week if Cleveland is to win. Baker Mayfield is good and he showed a lot of great poise throwing the ball last week, but the Browns are at their best when they don’t rely on Mayfield to win the game with his arm – though he has proven capable of doing so. The question will be the defense and how Cleveland and create the same chaos that doomed Pittsburgh last week. The high snap gave the Browns momentum in the game, but it were the four interceptions, most of tipped passes at the line of scrimmage that really hurt the Steelers. Patrick Mahomes isn’t going to throw the ball into poor spots, so Cleveland needs to get pressure on the quarterback and create chaos in the passing game.

There’s a lot to be said about the way Kansas City won games this season, but the Chiefs won 14 of the 15 games that Mahomes started for them this season. Kansas City has found different ways to win as well, doing so with Mahomes and the offense scoring last-minute touchdowns, coming from behind at times and using strong defensive performances as well. But for the last nine weeks of the regular season, it was not easy for Kansas City, which won by a field goal or less four times in the final eight games of the season. Mahomes was what we expected from him as he threw for 4,700 yards, tossed 38 touchdowns to just six interceptions and came through in the clutch with three game-winning drives in the fourth quarter. He really only had two main weapons, though, with tight end Travis Kelce and receiver Tyreek Hill accounting for nearly 46 percent of the targets and receptions this season. The duo both went over 1,200 yards receiving, averaged at least 13.5 yards per reception and caught at least 11 touchdowns. If Clyde Edwards-Helaire is ready to go for this game after his ankle injury in Week 15, it will only add another dimension to the Kansas City offense that Cleveland must worry about in this game. The Chiefs’ Achilles heel at times this season has been a defense that allowed at least 27 points in four of the last seven games in which the Chiefs used their starters for a majority of the game.

I’m fully expecting this NFL divisional round game to get out of hand as both teams march down the field with relative ease on each other. Kansas City did not play many teams this season that had the ability to run the ball nearly as well as the Browns do with Chubb and Hunt in the backfield. Still, Kansas City ranked 21st against the run this season and were exposed a bit by the teams with better rushing games. This tells me the legal sports betting sites in New Jersey underplayed their hand by putting the Browns’ point total at 23, so I’m hammering the over 23 points for Cleveland at -108 odds. Cleveland, though, struggled to take away Pittsburgh’s tight ends and running backs in the passing game, which bodes well for Kelce and the Chiefs. Cleveland was also susceptible to some explosive plays in the second half against Pittsburgh, which is right up Kansas City’s alley. I think both teams will threaten to hit 30 points in this game, so I’m betting over 60.5 total points in this matchup for +155 odds.

Chiefs to win

I felt it was a little excessive for Kansas City to be a 10-point favorite at the NFL betting sites in New Jersey, but it is understandable at least. The Chiefs have been the best team in the NFL all season long despite the fact they haven’t won a game by more than six point since Week 8. Yet everyone expects the Chiefs to easily handle a gritty Browns team that overcame a lot of adversity to win last week, so the NFL divisional round odds reflect that confidence. Cleveland’s defense was able to force plenty of turnovers early with tipped passes last week, but that won’t come as easily against Mahomes and the Chiefs. The good news for Cleveland is their running game can keep the ball out of Mahomes’ hands and limit the possessions in this game. The Chiefs defense has been vulnerable at times this season and Cleveland’s offense is more than capable of dominating at the line of scrimmage now that the offensive line will be at full strength. Kansas City wins, but it will be a one-score game, which is why I’m betting Cleveland getting 7.5 points at +118 odds and not betting on the Chiefs to lay the points at the football betting sites.

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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

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