Cleveland Browns vs Kansas City Chiefs Preview

Cleveland Browns vs Kansas City Chiefs, Chiefs -5.5, 4:25PM EST on CBS

What to Watch For

1. Baker Mayfield Retaining His Form

If Baker Mayfield can continue to do what he did at the end of the 2020 NFL Season, he is without a doubt a top ten quarterback in the NFL. And this offense with a top ten quarterback for an entire season can jump from a top ten offense to one of the elite offenses in football. His accuracy took a massive leap in the second half of the year as compared to the first half. With an elite running game behind him and having Odell Beckham Jr. return, adding a field-stretching element in Anthony Schwartz, and improvement from Donovan Peoples-Jones, just merely being an accurate quarterback is enough to get the Browns’ offense to elite levels.

A final Weighted On-Target % for Baker Mayfield. Total, First 8, Last 8.

Originally tweeted by Cory (@realcorykinnan) on July 11, 2021.

2. Jedrick Wills’ Year Two Leap

Jedrick Wills was the best-left tackle the Browns have had since the retirement of Joe Thomas last season as a rookie. Typically the biggest leap for players comes in year two, and this is especially true of linemen. Wills was a solid player who had room for improvement. If he can take a leap this year, this Browns offensive line can go from possibly the best offensive line in football, to an all-time great unit.

3. Chris Jones at Defensive End

Chris Jones has been dominant on the interior of the defensive line pretty much since he entered the league. He is now trying to do the same out on the edge. While he will still get plenty of reps on the inside, especially in passing situations, the majority of his reps will come on the edge. Jones lost around 20 pounds to play this year. Jones is still at 290 pounds. That is still quite high for a 4-3 defensive end. However, he has insane length that allows him to hold that weight much better than most. If he can show that he can be an elite athlete on the edge at a lower weight like he was on the interior, he will be a problem for offensive tackles who aren’t used to the strength of a player like Jones. The Chiefs’ lack of depth at end as well as their solid depth at defensive tackle somewhat forced their hand with this move. However, it could end up being beneficial in the long run by giving them a player in Jones with inside-out versatility.

Keys To The Game

1. Pressure Mahomes

The Kansas City Chiefs have a new-look offensive line with five new starters, so the Browns will have an opportunity to get pressure on them. If teams give Patrick Mahomes too much time, he will destroy any defense, no matter how sound it is. With a new offensive line, miscommunications happen. The Browns should take advantage of this by running games with their defensive line, which a player like Jadeveon Clowney can be great at. The Browns also need to look to get Myles Garrett some run against the Chiefs’ right tackle Lucas Niang, who looks to be their worst linemen. He is also playing next to 6th round pick Trey Smith, who will probably be their second-worst offensive lineman.

2. Create Explosive Plays

When you face a team like the Chiefs, they are going to score points. Methodical drives are necessary for any game. However, if you need to score a lot, you cannot rely on having 5 long touchdown drives a game. The Browns offense lacked explosion in the passing game last year. The return of OBJ, the improvements from Peoples-Jones, and the addition of Higgins should help solve that issue. Baker has shown at times he can be a good downfield passer. They need to be able to hit the ground running in that aspect. The running game is full of long, explosive runs by Nick Chubb, so that is not much of a concern. If they can be successful and explosive in both aspects, they give themselves a chance to win any game they play.When you face a team like the Chiefs, they are going to score points. Methodical drives are necessary for any game. However, if you need to score a lot, you cannot rely on having 5 long touchdown drives a game. The Browns’ offense lacked explosion in the passing game last year. The return of OBJ, the improvements from Peoples-Jones, and the addition of Higgins should help solve that issue. Baker has shown at times he can be a good downfield passer. They need to be able to hit the ground running in that aspect. The running game is full of long, explosive runs by Nick Chubb, so that is not much of a concern. If they can be successful and explosive in both aspects, they give themselves a chance to win any game they play.

3. Limit Tyreek Hill

Tyreek Hill is a fantastic receiver at all levels of the field. The one the Browns must concern themselves with the most is deep. Just like for the Browns, if you are trying to score in bunches, the Chiefs need explosive plays. Tyreek Hill is the biggest threat for those types of plays. If you can limit his catches of 20+ yards, you can consider it a success. Hill will get his production no matter what, but if you make it happen on a lot of shorter targets, it is a job well done.

Prediction

Cleveland Browns 31 – Kansas City Chiefs 34

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