The Chiefs have found themselves in an unlikely situation: Slated to play the Cleveland Browns in the Divisional Round. Here’s what experts had to say.
For the first time ever, the Browns and the Chiefs will meet in a playoff game. Their paths to this moment could not be more different. For the last several years, the Chiefs have had winning records and made the playoffs under the leadership of Andy Reid. Reid has a chance to go down as one of the winningest coaches ever when he retires and that means the future and the present are bright spots for Kansas City. In Cleveland, after a multitude different head coaches and quarterbacks, it appears life has changed for Browns fans.
Although Baker Mayfield has not achieved earth-shattering results like Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson, he has been proficient enough. With a heavy dose of running backs Nick Chubb and former Chief Kareem Hunt, the Browns offense has a nice balance and has seen growth throughout the season. At times, they can show explosiveness on both sides of the ball as displayed by their Wild Card Round thrashing of the Pittsburgh Steelers. It is clear that the Browns are more capable than perhaps ever before and the Chiefs will need to be prepared.
Here is what the experts have to say about the upcoming divisional matchup:
Gregg Rosenthal went 5-1 in his picks for the Wildcard Round. For anyone that wants thoughtful and thought-provoking content to read about upcoming games, look no further that Rosenthal’s weekly column. In this week’s Divisional Round prediction article, he is like much of the rest of the NFL world: Taking the Chiefs.
He is, however, expecting the game to be closer than many other analysts. According to his piece, he believes the game will finish with a score of 34-30, which is the highest scoring game of the week but also insists that Patrick Mahomes will throw under four touchdown passes. Here is what he had to say:
There is a theory that the Chiefs have been playing possum all season, somehow only motivated enough to barely beat teams like the Falcons and Broncos. I don’t buy that, but I do believe the team that wins in Arrowhead has to present more defensive challenges to Patrick Mahomes than this Browns group is capable of, even with Denzel Ward and slot corner Kevin Johnson back this week. There are no moral victories in January, but it’s amazing this Browns offense is already good enough to win a Super Bowl even without Odell Beckham on the field.
On the ESPN panel this week, there is little doubt about who will emerge victorious in the Divisional Round this week. With a resounding voice, everyone said in unison that the Chiefs would win. Although they can occasionally take wacky stances, they decided fully back the mainstream stance this week. All nine experts took Kansas City over the Browns’ Cinderella story.
On the CBS panel, the same thing rings true. With the exception of Will Brinson, who has not yet picked his winners as of press time, everyone is taking the Chiefs to win straight up. When it comes to the spread, however, the tables turn quite a bit.
Only two experts at CBS believe that Kansas City will cover the spread in their victory. Pete Prisco and Jared Dubin are the two that believe the Chiefs will win handily. Everyone else believes that the Browns will be able to do what everyone has been able to do with Kansas City: Keep it close and then lose.
FiveThirtyEight seems to continuously make their site more and more fun with interactive math. While a lot of their site has to do with political analysis and probability, they have more than enough sports analysis, including weekly win probabilities and Super Bowl chances.
Currently, the Chiefs are their favorites to win the Super Bowl with a 22% chance. However, this week, the site’s love for the Chiefs does not stop there. The Chiefs also have the highest win probability of the remaining teams. The math nerds at their website give the Chiefs almost an 80% chance of victory.
The Chiefs are clearly favorited to advance to advance to the AFC Championship for the third straight season. If there were any questions about how analysts felt about the Chiefs and Browns matchup in the playoffs, NFL Pickwatch cleared it up. According to their most recent tracking, 99% of NFL experts have selected the Chiefs to advance. Again, these are the highest marks of any remaining team in any remaining matchup.
All in all, many expect a close game, but one in which the Chiefs win. In the first ever Cleveland and Kansas City playoff matchup, all eyes are on the high powered offenses of each team. The question will be: Who can be the most efficient to the end? It’s clear that the Chiefs are who the experts expect to come out victorious.