CLEVELAND, OH – Thanks to a well-balanced 31-21 win over the Houston Texans, the Cleveland Browns improved to 1-1. Are they the biggest threat to the defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs?
Cleveland, who lost to the Chiefs for the second straight time in Arrowhead by single digits, has the look of a team that can give the high-powered Chiefs problems in January. On offense, Cleveland has arguably the best offensive line in the NFL, along with the best running back tandem of Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb, two top-tier wideouts in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. and a quarterback built to go toe-toe with Patrick Mahomes in Baker Mayfield.
While Mayfield did throw the game-deciding interception on a potential game-winning drive, the former Heisman Trophy winner out of Oklahoma dropped to 0-3 vs. his old college rival, 33-29. On defense, the Browns could potentially boast a top-five defense led by Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney, Denzel Ward along with new additions such as Josh Johnson, Troy Hill, Greg Newsome and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.
While the defense appears to be a work of progress, there is no reason why this unit—which already has gone back and forth with the Chiefs can’t get over the hump. The question is, will they?
Other teams such as Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Baltimore—whom finally solved Mahomes in a Sunday Night Football thriller, 36-35—all have teams that can also give Kansas City a problem, the Browns are the only team that has a perfect balance on both offense and defense, that will give the Chiefs all they can handle.
It is ultimately up to Cleveland to take that next step and use their narrow losses to Kansas City as fuel to drive them, in hopes of meeting again, and hopefully, finally closing the deal with a win.