KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. raised a few eyebrows this week and caught the attention of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes when he tweeted “Don’t be surprised when [the Browns] to win.”
Mahomes ‘liked’ the tweet before ‘disliking it’ soon after, but Beckham could be on to something: The Browns have a great chance to upset the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs for at least a dozen. for reasons, many of which Vegas missed when setting up the Browns as the 10-point underdog for this divisional round game on Sunday afternoon.
The Browns, emerging from their convincing 48-37 wild card defeat of the Steelers, believe they can barge into Arrowhead and knock out the 14-2 Chiefs on their way to the AFC Championship game, and no one can shake their faith.
While this may sound like a proposition from David and Goliath, there are a myriad of reasons why it can happen. Here are a few:
1. Mahomes hesitated on the stretch
Arguably the best quarterback in the NFL, Mahomes has played his worst football of the season in his last four games and has to either get back to the guy he was before that or the Browns will seize the moment and rip his cape off. of Superman from his back.
In his last four games, he had failed to score more than 100.0 after six straight games. His last game of the season, a slim 17-14 win over the lowly Falcons, he was 79.5 odds – his lowest of the season. It’s not exactly the way you want to go in the playoffs.
His winning percentage in his last two games was 55.32% and 54.55%. In his last three games, he’s thrown four of his six interceptions, including three in a win over the Dolphins. He’s also escaped four times in his last five games – losing two – having fumbled just once in the previous 10 games.
He’s also been sacked 10 times in his last five games, after just 12 in the previous 10.
Granted, Browns defensive end Myles Garrett is in a similar crisis after COVID-19 with just 2.5 sacks in his six games back, but predicts a big game in KC
If the Browns can punch Mahomes and shake him, they can make the reigning Super Bowl MVP look deadly.
2. Baker Mayfield is hot
Mayfield has been hotter than Mahomes in the home stretch, throwing 14 touchdowns and just one interception in his last 10 games. In fact, profootballfocus.com has ranked Mayfield higher than Mahomes since Week 9.
Mayfield hit his stride in this game-action, wide area attack and was dynamite. In the red zone, he’s deadly, producing hits on nearly 75% of his trips. As Browns quarterback Case Keenum told cleveland.com last week, Mayfield is built for the red zone with his strong arm, mobility and precision.
With arguably the best offensive line in the NFL, the league’s best running tandem and incredible receivers and a tight end, Mayfield has gone unstoppable in the red zone and can hurt the Chiefs if he gets there.
However, he must not cast a choice. The Chiefs are tied for the second-most interceptions in the NFL with 16, including six by Tyrann Mathieu for the league’s No.3. Winning the sales battle is imperative.
3. The Chiefs are the last in the NFL in red zone defense
The Browns ‘red zone success matches well with the fact that the Chiefs’ defense is horrible inside the 20. They allowed 36 touchdowns in 47 trips for 76.6% – which is the last in the NFL. In their last three games, they allow touchdowns on 81.82% of trips to their opponent’s red zone.
Chefs can almost score at will. But the Browns can follow or pass them, especially if they get into the 20.
4. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt should have great days
I don’t agree with the idea that the Browns have to run the ball to play away from Mahomes. I think they will have to score early and often, and they will throw it as much as they will, if not more.
But Chubb and Hunt will have chances for some explosive games against a running defense that is 21st overall and 31st in Football Outsiders DVOA. Both full-backs keep cool so they can hurt a team in the fourth quarter, and they will.
“It’s like a two-headed monster,” Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu said this week. “When we get out of the game another one comes in. These two guys are elite, I think, in their own way.”
Additionally, Hunt returns to Kansas City with added emotion for the team that cut him off in 2018 after video of his altercation with a woman in his downtown Cleveland apartment building.
Hunt still has plenty of friends on the Chiefs and an ally in coach Andy Reid, but he will dig deep into this game for the angry runs that will be a burden on the Chiefs.
“I automatically play with anger, so I’m going to find it,” Hunt said. “You don’t have to worry about where I’m going to find him. ”
5. Denzel Ward, Ronnie Harrison and Kevin Johnson are all back
Mahomes can hurt a defense with his legs, crazy arm angles, and devastating blind passes. He’s light years better than Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for 501 yards in the Browns 48-36 wild card win on Sunday.
But there were three key defensive backs missing or severely limited in this game due to COVID-19 – Denzel Ward, Ronnie Harrison and Kevin Johnson. Harrison only played 11 snaps because he had a false positive COVID-19 test last week and missed the only practice of the week on Friday and Saturday because of it.
Ward and Johnson, activated on the COVID-19 roster on Wednesday, missed their second straight game with the virus, which was a big reason the Steelers were able to close within 12 points in the third quarter.
All three will return to full-time duty on Sunday, provided Ward and Johnson are fully recovered. This is not the same secondary that allowed Mason Rudolph to complete passes of 41, 41 and 47 yards two weeks ago. Additionally, substitute MJ Stewart has captured game-changing interceptions in each of the last two games.
6. Browns offensive line should dominate
With left guard Joel Bitonio returning from the COVID reserve and right tackle Jack Conklin due to play despite a hamstring injury last week, the Browns have the group back together, and it’s arguably the best offensive line. of the NFL. The Chiefs, on the other hand, are 21st against the run and 19th in the NFL with just 32 sacks. The line dominated in Pittsburgh last week against TJ Watt, Cam Heyward and Co., despite Bitonio being absent and Conklin losing in the second quarter.
7. Leader Clyde Edwards-Helaire is ill
Edwards-Helaire was limited in practice on Wednesday but then sat down Thursday and Friday with his hip and ankle injuries and is questionable. If he doesn’t play, he will be replaced by former Steelers nemesis Le’Veon Bell and Darrel Williams. Edwards-Helaire was 19th in the NFL with 803 yards and rushed for four touchdowns.
It doesn’t help the Chiefs that they don’t have former Browns right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who was on reserve injured with a back injury. The line is not as good as the one that went to the Super Bowl last year.
8. Garrett predicts a game of monsters
Garrett, who finished No.6 in the NFL with 12 sacks, has had just 2.5 in his six games against COVID-19, none in the last two. He also hasn’t forced a fumble in his last eight games after forcing four in his first seven. But there’s no time like Sunday against the reigning Super Bowl MVP for a breakout game, and Garrett predicts he will have one.
“Absolutely,” he said on Friday. “It should be the game to do it. I am due. … One of the best teams in the league, if not the best team in the league, but they have to get in and they have to prove it, and we have to prove that we can fight anybody.
Mahomes, who has been sacked 10 times in his last five games, knows what he’s up against.
“I’ve known Myles for a long time, being in high school and believe me he was exactly the same height in high school as he is today, so I’m glad I didn’t play him back then, but he’s a great player. , plays extremely hard and has a ton of talent, ” Mahomes said on Wednesday. “They’ve got talent on this whole defense and so for us it’s about running at a high level, getting the ball out of my hands a bit like I said and letting the guys make plays and we’re going to have to play our best football. if we want to win a football game at the end of the day.
9. The Browns coaching staff
They’re a great coaching staff who can match spirits with Andy Reid and Co. Stefanski has proven to be a great game pitcher, and the Browns have great plans on both sides of the ball. Defensive coordinator Joe Woods was part of a defensive staff that kept Mahomes 10 points away until the fourth quarter of the Chiefs’ 31-20 Super Bowl win last year. Offensive lineman Bill Callahan is one of the best in the business, as are others in their positions. They play healthy football and don’t make a lot of mental mistakes. If they play a clean game, they can win.
10. They stung the bear again
No one has given the Browns a chance to beat the Steelers, and no one is giving them a chance to take down the defending Super Bowl champions, which is exactly what they love. Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool predicted they would “be cheered” and Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins said “I wouldn’t go that far” when a Twitter fan observed that the Browns would provide competition.
“We’ll see what he thinks after the game,” Hunt said.
Mayfield thrives on being counted as a thriving vampire on blood, and the Browns will use those fights to stand up for this game. But insults aside, they have the unshakeable belief that they can win.
Claypool calls the Browns ‘super classless’
“I don’t think you would walk the pitch unless you believe in yourself,” Garrett said. “You can’t doubt yourself, your abilities and your teammates, especially not in the playoffs. We are here. We might as well be awesome. ”
Browns playoff shirts, hats for sale: Here’s where Cleveland Browns fans can order shirts and hats celebrating the team’s qualification for the 2020 NFL Playoffs.
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