Browns pass rush can harrass Patrick Mahomes
The time has finally come… FOOTBALL IS BACK. Week one in the NFL should pack a lot of excitement and intriguing matchups, one being the Cleveland Browns taking on the Kansas City Chiefs. The Browns saw the Chiefs last in the Divisional Round of the playoffs in 2020, where they narrowly lost 22-17. Now they have a chance to redeem themselves and start the 2021 season off with a bang. Cleveland is fortunate to be very healthy to start with the season, with Odell Beckham Jr, Grant Delpit, and Greedy Williams all slated to play. They were all returning from brutal injuries. The Chiefs are the best team in the AFC, but that doesn’t mean they are invincible. Let’s take a look at how the Browns can escape Arrowhead with a win.
The defensive line and secondary playing at a high level
We all saw Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs get heavily exposed in the Super Bowl as the Buccaneers applied substantial pressure all game. That is the main way to beat the Chiefs and the Browns have all the players in place to do just that. Myles Garrett and free agent signings Jadeveon Clowney and Takk Mckinley are healthy and ready to go. In addition to them, Malik McDowell and Malik Jackson look poised to wreak havoc on the interior defensive line (McDowell was the 3rd highest graded defensive player in the preseason). The Chiefs have three new starters on the offensive line, so the Browns could easily take advantage of that with an intense pass rush. The secondary in Cleveland got a makeover as well. Rookie Greg Newsome is starting opposite of Pro Bowler Denzel Ward and Troy Hill will be in the Nickel. John Johnson, Ronnie Harrison, and Grant Delpit will be at the safety positions. We might even see versatile rookie Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah take snaps at safety. That is a massive amount of talent that could lead to coverage sacks as well. If they all come together, it could be a long day for Patrick Mahomes.
Getting an early lead
It is vital that the Browns get an early lead against the Chiefs on Sunday. If they can get up by two scores, their chances of winning skyrocket because of how dynamic their running game is. The one-two punch of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt is very hard to stop and the Browns can control the clock if they are ahead. Let’s not forget that Chubb averaged over 10 yards per carry in the fourth quarter in 2020. He is the definition of a closer. With the Browns offensive line returning intact and healthy, the running game expects to pick up right where it left off as one of the best in football.
Stretching the field
In the playoff game, one of Cleveland’s biggest weaknesses was their lack of speed on offense. Jarvis Landry and Rashard Higgins are very talented receivers, but they aren’t burners that can stretch the field. That held the offense back and played a part in the loss. In week one, things should be very different with Odell Beckham Jr returning from injury and rookie speedster Anthony Schwartz being available for some gadget plays. Baker Mayfield appears to be in complete control of the offense, so expect some big play-action plays trying to hit OBJ deep. In addition to them, second year man Donovan Peoples-Jones has looked bigger and faster during training camp and preseason, catching everything thrown his way. Expect him to have a significant role as well.
The ball bouncing their way a few times
Most NFL games are decided by one or two plays and whether or not players/coaches want to admit it, getting lucky plays into a team winning the game. The Browns will have to get lucky a few times to win this game, whether it be a few penalties going their way, a Chiefs fumble bouncing into the arms of a Cleveland defender, or a tipped pass from Mahomes being caught by a linebacker. One of these things will need to happen in order to win the game. It would also help if a punt or kick return got returned for a touchdown. Rookie Demetric Felton has shown promise in that area, so there is a chance.