Can you believe that opening snap in the Cleveland Browns versus Pittsburgh Steelers wild card game?
28-0 in the first quarter? Crazy.
Elsewhere in the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens smashed through the tough as nails Tennessee Titans. With their seven-point victory over the Titans, the Ravens should remain at the top of the power rating list along with the New Orleans Saints.
Cleveland Browns Versus Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs will have the home-field advantage. We usually give the home team 2.5 points, but the Chiefs and Seahawks get a full 3-points due to how difficult it is to play in Arrowhead or Century Link. But this year, home-field advantage isn’t as much of a factor due to covid’s impact on people in the stands. The NFL lines are giving the Chiefs too much love. The Kansas City Chiefs are still listed at 8.6 and the Cleveland Browns are not getting enough, at -0.1 at ESPN and 7.0 and -0.6 at Team Rankings. So, if we give the Chiefs 1.5 for home-field advantage, it still only comes to an initial spread of nine points.
Why are the Chiefs over-favored?
Because although the Chiefs have gotten it done, they have played down to their competition and just barely won most of their games. They have been playing with fire and broke a record for consecutive wins at just 6 points or less before getting blasted by the chargers in Week 17. Heck, 6 of their wins this season are by 4 points or less.
Meanwhile, the Browns have a 12-5 record, winning 7 of 9 but are listed at No. 18 on the power rating list. If the average team should beat them in a neutral setting by 0.6 points, why have they won 12 games including Pittsburgh twice, the Tennessee Titans, the Colts, the Washington Football Team, and more?
Patrick Mahomes hasn’t been playing all that well. In the last three games, he’s passed for just 59.2 percent and thrown four interceptions against seven touchdowns. Another thing to consider is the fact that Kansas City gave up 4.5 yards per play against the run this season. Now they have to stop Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb.
The Chiefs are known for their passing game and if this game were last week, I would have stayed all the way clear of backing the Browns. But in this round of the playoffs, the Browns get Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson back. Being without their two start corners was rough, but they still found ways to win. They’ll also see Joel Bitinio back. So, considering all of this and the fact that the Chiefs haven’t beaten anyone by more than 6 points since Week 8, a 10-point spread seems like a bit much.
The Browns rank No. 3 in rushing yards per game and No. 5 in rushing attempts. This should be an advantage against the Chiefs’ soft run defense. The Browns score 27.89 per game on the road and are No. 7 in the league in road rushing yards. Defensively, the Browns are No. 9 against the run but fall back to No. 25 at stopping the pass. The Chiefs have the No. 29th ranked home running offense so, the run D versus run offense heavily favors the Browns.
On the flip side, the Kansas City Cheifs are the best passing team in the league. They have the No. 2 overall scoring offense and also rank No. 1 in yards per play – this is a massively significant stat for handicapping. Although the Chiefs remain the No. 1 passing squad at home, they fall to tenth in scoring. Defensively, the Chiefs are by no means slouches. They rank No. 8 in home scoring defense, so they don’t let much get by them. That said, they hold the No. 26 ranked home run defense, which could pose problematic against the No. 1 rushing team in the league.
In this one, the Kansas City Chiefs win but the Cleveland Browns get the cover. I went ahead and bought the half-point to ensure my victory instead of a push, taking the Cleveland Browns +10.5.