The Kansas City Chiefs are just days away from battling against the Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead Stadium in the 2021 regular-season opener. A change in the preseason schedule has created a bigger gap in between the final preseason game and Week 1 of the regular season, which allows the NFL landscape, specifically the media, to predict and debate at an extended length what will happen in each game when the season officially kicks off.
As for the game between the Chiefs and Browns, there’s one retired All-Pro offensive lineman that is adamant Cleveland will get the better of Kansas City on Sunday.
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Browns Are ‘Built to Beat’ Chiefs
During ESPN’s Morning show “Get Up!,” retired All-Pro center and analyst Jeff Saturday was asked which AFC team had the best chance to “de-throne” the Chiefs following an AFC championship and Super Bowl appearance by Kansas City. Saturday said it was Cleveland, and explained why.
“They’ve improved in the defensive backfield with [Troy] Hill and [John] Johnson coming over from the Rams, and they added Jadeveon Clowney to help [Myles] Garrett pass rush, which we know is going to be an issue [for the Chiefs].,” Saturday said.
The former Indianapolis Colts center continued on, this time flipping to the opposite side of the football for each team.
“The Chiefs defense will not match up well,” Saturday continued. “[The Browns] can run the ball. Baker Mayfield can exploit it down the field with play-action if they do control the line of scrimmage. This is a team that would be built to give the Chiefs a ton of problems.”
Fellow ESPN analyst and former NFL player, Marcus Spears, also agreed with Saturday while on the same panel.
“If they control the line of scrimmage, which is the thing you gotta do to the Chiefs, right?” Spears questioned. “That’s something the Browns can do. They can bleed you with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and the screen game and the quick passing game from Baker and getting the ball in these guys’ hands. The Browns are more suited to put together 12, 13 play drives.”
Are Analysts Right?
The short answer to whether Saturday and Spears are right — yes. However, that doesn’t mean they will beat Kansas City.
Yes, Cleveland is one of the best-built teams for beating the Chiefs. But that doesn’t mean they will. The Browns have an improved defense, which will definitely create problems for quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City offense. But let’s also not forget that the Chiefs have an improved offensive line, which will create an improved run game, better clock management, and overall, a more unpredictable and dangerous Kansas City offense.
On the flip side, the Chiefs defense is also improved thanks to additions through the draft, signing veteran defensive tackle Jarran Reed during the offseason, along with a transition from Chris Jones as an edge rusher. So let’s not assume that the ability to sustain long drives for Cleveland means that A) they will be able to do it against the Chiefs, and B) those long drives will always end in touchdowns, let alone any points, which they will need to consistently do if they want to beat a high-powered offense like Kansas City’s.
So while the Browns may be best suited to “de-throne” the Chiefs, it’s fair to say we will have to see it before we believe it.
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