Sunday afternoon, the No. 1 Kansas City Chiefs will welcome the No. 6 Cleveland Browns to Arrowhead Stadium in their AFC Divisional Round matchup. These teams haven't played each other since November of 2018 when the Chiefs cruised to a 37-21 victory.
Here is a closer look at this game, along with betting trends and a free pick. This matchup has the largest spread of any Divisional Round game, with Kansas City favored by 10 points at home.
How They Got Here
The defending champion Chiefs haven't had to sweat much this season. With only two losses on the year, Kansas City earned home-field advantage throughout the postseason and a first-round bye.
As for the five-loss Browns, their victory in Week 17 against the Steelers earned them a postseason berth for the first time since the 2002 season, where they were rewarded with another game against the Steelers. But a huge first quarter and an early 28-0 paved the way for Cleveland to beat Pittsburgh on the road 48-37. Baker Mayfield was exceptional, throwing for three touchdowns with no turnovers, while Kareem Hunt ran in a pair of touchdowns. The defense scored on a botched snap by Pittsburgh in the first play of the game and intercepted Ben Roethlisberger four times.
Kansas City has quarterback Patrick Mahomes, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, and tight end Travis Kelce, all of whom are among the elite players at their respective positions. That group helps fuel an offense that averages 29.6 points per game, sixth in the NFL, but led the league with over 425 yards per game.
Meanwhile, Cleveland averages only 25.5 points and 380 yards, but the running back duo of Hunt and Nick Chubb are responsible for a rushing attack that averages 148 yards per game, third in the NFL.
Defensively, each team has its strengths. The Chiefs rank 10th with 22.6 points allowed while the Browns are 21st, but Cleveland is within the Top 10 against the run with 111 yards allowed. Both teams are fairly even in sacks, but K.C. maintains the edge with 16 interceptions during the regular season compared to Cleveland's 11.
The Browns seem to finally be leaving their COVID-19 troubles behind, as several team members, including head coach Kevin Stefanski and defensive backs Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson, are expected to return to action. A few others are dealing with injuries and considered questionable, however, with the notables being tackle Jack Conklin and tight end David Njoku.
For the Chiefs, a big name to keep an eye on is running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The rookie suffered a high-ankle sprain in December and missed the final few games for Kansas City, but there is a chance he can see the field again soon. Others considered questionable include wide receiver Sammy Watkins, tackle Mike Remmers, and linebacker Willie Gay Jr.
The Browns are a 12-5 team that went just 7-10 ATS, including a 4-5 ATS mark on the road. They are 4-8 ATS in their last 12 contests, but a strong 7-2 overall in their previous nine games and 5-1 in their last six road games.
The 14-2 Chiefs were even worse ATS, going 6-9-1 with a 3-5 home mark. Kansas City has failed to cover in their last eight games but has managed to win 13 of their last 15 games in Kansas City and four of their last five against Cleveland overall.
When Mahomes has the ball in his hands, Kansas City is almost impossible to stop. But the Browns have the recipe to prevent that as best they can; running the ball and chewing plenty of time off the clock. Cleveland does stand a chance in this game if they can run the football effectively, and the defense gets a couple of key stops.
But ultimately, a rested Chiefs team will be too much for the Browns to pull off an upset for the second-straight week. It's a large spread, but I see the Chiefs winning by over 10 to advance to their third straight AFC title game.
Betting Pick: Kansas City Chiefs (-10).