The Cleveland Browns travel to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season.
Many have lauded the NFL as being geniuses for scheduling this matchup to kick off the 2021 season.
After all, the upstart Browns had their playoff hopes dashed by the Chiefs in January.
Both teams have made key adjustments to their rosters to be more competitive in 2021.
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes has an upgraded offensive line; something he desperately needed in 2020.
The Browns have an improved defense, a necessity after allowing Chiefs backup quarterback Chad Henne to convert a crucial third down play that sealed the deal in the divisional playoff game.
Oddsmakers already have the Browns as the underdog in this game so the team really needs to come out strong and believing it can win this game to have a chance at capturing the upset win.
Cleveland Browns open as 6-point underdog vs. Kansas City Chiefshttps://t.co/4Ilvl5VtSu pic.twitter.com/z9yiq8oM84
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) May 12, 2021
With both teams improving their rosters, here are three things the Browns must do better to dethrone the Chiefs.
1. Keep Mahomes Off The Field
Ask any NFL defensive coordinator the secret to beating the Chiefs, and it is as simple as keeping Mahomes off the field.
Patrick Mahomes has enjoyed unprecedented success in his first three seasons as an NFL starter, but @jeffrichadiha says the Kansas City Chiefs superstar faces a brand new challenge in 2021.https://t.co/JksmeUaUzy pic.twitter.com/1EiSxYv5X8
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) June 18, 2021
That means the Browns defense has to dominate the line of scrimmage and force the Chiefs to punt in frequent third-and-out situations.
This means not letting Mahomes scramble or losing sight of TE Travis Kelce or WR Tyreek Hill who find a way to get open for Mahomes.
The Chiefs beat the Browns in time of possession in January though it was close.
They had the ball 30 minutes and 37 seconds, and the Browns had the ball 29 minutes and 23 seconds.
To win the game, the Browns should decisively win the time of possession battle also.
2. Score Often
We won’t rehash the fumble/touchback catastrophic play.
It was a disaster for many reasons, but the notable one in this discussion is it stymied the Browns from scoring a touchdown.
The Chiefs offense is tough to contain so the key for the Browns offense and QB Baker Mayfield is to score as many points as possible because a shootout is possible.
That includes running the ball better and more often for scoring opportunities and to grind time off the clock to keep Mahomes off the field longer.
The Browns did not run the ball well against the Chiefs in the playoffs.
In fact, there were only 19 running plays amounting to 101 yards collectively between Chubb and Hunt.
3. Don’t Give Up Big Plays
Allowing Chad Henne to make the first down was just one of the big plays that doomed the Browns in the playoff game.
Everyone knows Tyreek Hill is elusive and quick, but somehow he found himself without adequate coverage.
Hill caught 8 passes for 110 yards in the playoffs.
Kelce had 8 catches for 109 yards and one touchdown.
Travis Kelce went through his own teammate to score this TD 💪
(via @Chiefs) pic.twitter.com/I9zJLuPjtb
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 17, 2021
The Browns knew what the Chiefs were planning to do yet still could not formulate a plan of action to stop it.
Obviously, the plan and execution of it has to be faster and better in September.
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