3 Things the Browns Must Do: The Browns have a tall task ahead of them on Sunday. They’ll head to Kansas City to face the Chiefs inside Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs haven’t competed in the playoffs yet because they earned a Wild Card Round bye from capturing the one seed in the AFC.
Momentum favors the Browns. The team defeated the Steelers in Pittsburgh last Sunday night by a score of 48-37. The Browns proved that they’re not “nameless gray faces” like Pittsburgh receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster had mentioned leading up to the game.
This year’s Cleveland team is legit. The Browns went 11-5 in the AFC North which was one of the best divisions in football this season. Despite this, Kansas City is the best team in football, and they’re favored by ten points on Sunday afternoon.
The injury bug has hit the Chiefs hard which has made people question if the Browns can pull off the upset. Tyreek Hill will not play on Sunday and Clyde Edwards-Helaire is questionable so the Browns couldn’t have received a better week to battle the Chiefs. It’s still going to take a lot to beat Kansas City inside Arrowhead Stadium, but I believe it’s manageable for Cleveland if a few things go their way.
Here are 3 things the Browns must do to upset the Chiefs on Sunday.
3 Things the Browns Must Do: 1 | Contain Patrick Mahomes
I say contain because it’s close to impossible to shut down Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is the reigning Super Bowl MVP and is looking to lead his team to another ring in back-to-back seasons. Patrick Mahomes is that good. The 25-year-old dazzles fans every week with his amazing throws and overall level of play.
Mahomes’ 2020 QBR was 82.9 which puts him at second in the league. He has averaged 316 passing yards and 2.5 touchdowns per game through the air. Mahomes doesn’t want to run the football, but he has an elite ability to escape pressure and scramble.
It’s going to take the entire Browns’ defense to contain Patrick Mahomes. The Browns secondary is going to have to shock receivers at the line of scrimmage and be phenomenal in coverage. The Browns defensive line is going to have to get pressure on Mahomes without blitz support from their linebackers. Finally, the linebackers are going to have to keep Mahomes contained in the pocket.
It’s going to take a collective effort from the team’s defense to contain Patrick Mahomes.
3 Things the Browns Must Do: 2 | Run the Ball Effectively
If the Browns are able to run the ball, it will help the team in countless ways. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt will be the team’s one-two punch on Sunday against the Chiefs. If the Cleveland offensive line opens up some holes, these two elite backs will be able to find the spaces in the Chiefs’ front seven.
If the Browns can run the ball effectively, they’ll take time off the clock and control the time of possession. This will limit Patrick Mahomes’ opportunities and give the Browns defense a needed break on Sunday. An effective run game will also open up Baker Mayfield to attack the Chiefs through the air in the play-action game.
The team that controls the line of scrimmage usually wins the game. An effective run game is critical for the Browns on Sunday if they want to advance to the AFC Championship Game.
3 Things the Browns Must Do: 3 | 3rd Down Efficiency on Both Sides of the Ball
If the Browns can win the third down battle, they’ll punch their ticket to the AFC Championship Game. Cleveland had the eighth-ranked third down offense in the NFL this season. They converted 44.9% of the time in the regular season. The defense stopped the opposition 56.1% of the time on third down in sixteen games this year.
Kansas City moves the chains just under 49% of the time on third down. Stopping Kansas City on third down will not be easy. They’ll have to be great on first and second down to put Chiefs offensive coordinator, Eric Bieniemy, in a play-calling hole. This should help the Browns’ defense head to the bench and bring the punt return team onto the field.
If the Browns shut down Mahomes, run the football effectively, and have third down success on both sides of the ball, they’ll beat the Chiefs on Sunday. I don’t believe all three of these things will happen, but they’re necessary if the Browns want to keep their Super Bowl dreams alive.
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