In a game featuring two teams that are going in completely opposite directions, the Kansas City Chiefs go into Cleveland to take on the Browns. Kansas City is riding high at the top of the AFC this season, while the Browns wasted a decent start to the season, have fired their coach, and are back to being the Browns.
The Chiefs are the highest scoring team in the league at 36.3 points per game, with an offense that looks like they are taking on college defenses instead of pros. Andy Reid’s team is tied atop the league in yards per play, averaging a nice 6.9 yards per play.
Kansas City is tied for 11th in yards per rush attempt with 4.6 yards per carry. Feature back Kareem Hunt is on pace to eclipse 1,000 yards this season, and is on pace to jump over 1,000 defenders as well.
Led by Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs are fourth in yards per pass attempt at 8.7 yards per pass. Mahomes is on pace for 5,000 yards and 52 touchdown passes. Only nine seasons by a quarterback have seen 5,000 passing yards, and only two have ever seen 50 touchdown passes, and none of those quarterbacks were in their first full seasons as a starter.
Defensively, the Chiefs are tied for 27th in yards allowed per play, giving up an average of 6.3 yards per play. They are dead last in yards per carry allowed at 5.4 yards per carry and 22nd in yards against per pass attempt, giving up 7.2 yards per pass attempt. Defense is not the Chiefs’ strong suit to say the least, but when you have an offense like they do, they can live with that.
The Chiefs play the Browns and Cardinals in back to back weeks before taking on the Rams in their Mexico City showdown. That leaves the potential for them to be caught looking ahead to the Rams over the next couple of weeks.
Browns Week 9 Outlook
Cleveland is 29th in the NFL in yards per play, averaging 4.9 yards per play. They are tied with the Chiefs for 11th in yards per carry, putting up 4.6 yards per attempt on the ground. After trading away starting running back Carlos Hyde, they have to rely on the rookie Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson to keep up that production. Chubb has averaged 6.1 yards per carry on his 52 attempts this season, so it will be interesting to see if he can maintain that with an increased workload.
The Browns are 30th in yards per pass attempt, averaging 5.6 yards per attempt. The Browns are one of just three teams in the NFL failing to average six yards per pass attempt, with the other two teams being the Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills. All things considered, that is a some appropriate company for the Browns to keep. The Baker Mayfield hype has worn off, as his production hasn’t been enough to keep anyone excited about the possibility of the Browns not ruining yet another exciting quarterback prospect.
On defense, Cleveland is tied for 15th in the league in yards allowed per play at 5.6 yards per play. They are tied for 24th in yards allowed per carry, giving up 4.6 yards per attempt and tied for ninth in yards against per pass attempt, with opponents gaining 6.7 yards per pass attempt against the Browns.
Cleveland fired head coach Hue Jackson and put defensive coordinator Gregg Williams into their interim head coaching position. If there is a team out there who could manage to follow up a coach with three wins in three seasons with someone worse, it’s the Browns, who went with the Bountygate guy. The team’s new offensive coordinator is Freddie Kitchens, who was the team’s running backs coach and whose name sounds like that of a drug dealer or a chef at a really low-quality restaurant.
It will be interesting to see how the team responds to Jackson’s firing, as any loyalty they had toward their coach has to be cancelled out to some degree by the fact that they were so bad under him. There might be nowhere to go but up over the long haul for the Browns, but adjusting to a new coach and offensive coordinator could take the Browns a little bit more time than just a few days.
Chiefs vs. Browns Trends
The Chiefs are 7-1 straight up and 7-1 against the spread in the 2018 season. Against AFC competition, the Chiefs are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven games. They are also 19-7 against the spread in their last 26 road games, as Andy Reid’s offense has travelled well over the last few years.
Cleveland, meanwhile, is 2-5-1 straight up and 5-3 against the spread on the year. They are a depressing 7-18 against the spread in their last 25 home games, and just 5-15-1 against the spread in their last 21 games against teams with winning records. Over their last 51 total games, the Mistakes by the Lake are 15-35-1 against the spread.
Under normal circumstances, the Browns could be a good pick here at home. They do have a good defense, and the Chiefs have one of the worst offenses in the NFL.
However, these are not normal circumstances -- the Browns are going to ask a rookie quarterback to make changes to an offense (that he only just learned) against a team where you can’t afford to make any mistakes on offense.
Kansas City can score 40 on anyone in the league, and Cleveland just won’t be able to keep up in this one.