The Browns last weekend notched their first playoff win since 1994, but their feel-good story could come to an end Sunday.
After taking down the AFC North rival Steelers in Pittsburgh, Cleveland is set to meet the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. The reigning Super Bowl champions will be coming off the first-round bye they earned by securing the AFC’s No. 1 seed.
Here is our betting preview for the Browns-Chiefs divisional-round contest. The line and total are per consensus data, while the props are provided by DraftKings.
Cleveland Browns at (-10) Kansas City Chiefs
The Browns were one of the worst cover teams in football during the regular season. Even the Jacksonville Jaguars, who own the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, posted a better against-the-spread record than Cleveland.
But that didn’t matter to the Browns over Super Wild Card Weekend. Cleveland, a 5-point underdog against Pittsburgh, jumped out to a massive early lead and held on for an eventual 48-37 win at Heinz Field. The Browns had failed to cover in three of their last four games heading into that first-round matchup.
The Chiefs weren’t a great cover team in 2020, but it’s worth keeping in mind Kansas City was favored by a touchdown or more 11 (!) times during the regular season. Patrick Mahomes and Co. were double-digit favorites in six of those games and logged a 2-4 ATS mark.
First-half line, total
Chiefs -6.5, 29.5
First touchdown scorer
Tyreek Hill +500
Travis Kelce +600
Nick Chubb +900
Clyde Edwards-Helaire +950
Le’Veon Bell +1200
Kareem Hunt +1400
Patrick Mahomes over/under 320.5 yards
Baker Mayfield over/under 259.5 yards
Nick Chubb over/under 67.5 yards
Kareem Hunt over/under 31.5 yards
Travis Kelce over/under 86.5 yards
Tyreek Hill over/under 81.5 yards
Jarvis Landry over/under 58.5 yards
Rashard Higgins over/under 46.5 yards
Austin Hooper over/under 38.5 yards
We’re admittedly not making this pick with utter confidence. This is a whole lot of points for a playoff game, and all of Kansas City’s last seven wins were by six points or less.
But we’re expecting Mahomes to put on a show Sunday. The Browns ranked 22nd in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game and also gave up the most points per game of the eight remaining teams in the postseason field. Pittsburgh was laughably bad in the first half of last Sunday night’s game and still ended up with nearly 40 points. We’re struggling to envision any way Cleveland slows down the best offense in football.
History also is on Kansas City’s side for this bet. Mahomes currently owns a 4-1 career record in the playoffs, with all four victories coming by double digits. And for what it’s worth, Mahomes led the Chiefs to 18- and 20-point wins in the franchise’s last two divisional-round games.
As much as we’d like to give the Browns a chance to make this a close game, we believe the well-rested Chiefs simply will be too much for the visitors.