With the match between the Chiefs and Browns set at Arrowhead, what’s the largest threat that the Browns have to square up against the Chiefs?
Hello again everyone and welcome to another week of the ArrowChop! This is the column where we look at the positives/negatives of a certain Chiefs/NFL issue and look at both sides of the aisle. Then you, the readers, will come to your conclusions after I lay out the case. So sit back, relax, and enjoy as we breakdown this week’s hot topic.
The slate has officially been settled; after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 48-37, the Browns have advanced to the AFC Divisional round. They’ll be facing off against your favorite team that annihilates foes to sunder, the Kansas City Chiefs, next Sunday at 3:05 p.m. est. Some Chiefs’ players have received a bulk-load of rest (two weeks to be specific), and they’re ready to leap back onto the field to start their playoff run.
While they’re eager along with their fans, this Browns’ team isn’t one to joke around with as they can beat you many ways. What is one-way fans and analysts are leaning towards being the most potent threat to the Chiefs? It’s none other than the dual-headed dragon in the backfield of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Now, others look towards different reasoning, but let’s break down both sides of the aisle to see which holds more lethality to the Chiefs’ chances of winning.
The Browns’ backfield is the biggest threat
Let’s look at the headliner for that backfield: Nick Chubb. In the 2020-21 NFL season, Chubb had 1070 rushing yards (7th in the league), 150 receiving yards, averaged 5.6 yards per run (2nd), and 12 rushing touchdowns (T-4th). Those numbers are monstrous for a running back, and he can change the tide of the game as on Sunday. He had 76 rushing yards on 18 rushes, averaged 4.2 yards per run, 69 receiving yards, and a 40-yard receiving touchdown on a screen pass. However, he’s not the only one on that backfield to worry about.
Former Chiefs’ running back, Kareem Hunt, is another threat that causes concern. While he’s the back-up, that doesn’t mean he’s not starter material: he did lead the league in rushing in 2017. He rushed for 841 yards on a 4.2 yards per rush average with six rushing touchdowns in the regular season. He’s also a threat in the receiving game with 38 catches for 304 yards with five touchdowns.
He holds no remorse for any defense, no matter how spectacular they are; this was shown on Sunday. While he only had eight rushes for 48 yards, he still averaged six yards per rush, had two rushing touchdowns, and had a reception for 13 yards. This was a great game for him, especially since he had taken only 37% of offensive snaps. These stats alone tells you how lethal they are, but another instance that makes them lethal is that offensive line.
PFF ranks the Browns offensive line as the best in the entire NFL. This isn’t surprising though; while the argument of how the backs are doing holds a motherload of truth, Jack Conklin made the 1st Team All-Pro, and Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller made 2nd-Team All-Pro, which bolsters that greatly. This rushing success is largely thanks to Teller as “no guard earned a positive grade on a higher percentage of his run-blocking snaps than Teller did”.
The Chiefs’ rush defense isn’t the best, but it isn’t the worst. They’re ranked 19th in rushing yards allowed with 122.1 yards per game on the year and an average of 95 rushing yards per game in their past three matchups. This is largely thanks to Chris Jones plugging up rushing lanes, Spagnoulos improved run defense schemes and the entirety of defensive line stepping up from last year to improve upon this aspect of their game.
However, when you have Chubb averaging about 88 rushing yards per game and Hunt averaging around 52 rushing yards per game, there are certain causes for concern. We have seen how explosive they can be, and at times, this rush defense can fold. An example includes in Week 13 when Melvin Gordan ran all over the Chiefs’ defense for 131 yards, averaging 8.7 yards per rush. Stefanski and Browns” offensive coordinator, Alex Van Pelt, could make a game plan to annihilate the Chiefs on the ground.
The Browns’ backfield isn’t the biggest threat
Some fans don’t look towards the Browns’ backfield, but rather the Browns defensive line as the main concern. It’s lead by Myles Garrett, who has had an explosive year with 33 tackles, 12 sacks (6th), 15 tackles for loss (T-10th), four forced fumbles (T-3rd), and 18 QB hits. He also made the 1st Team All-Pro roster. It also has the likes of Sheldon Richardson who had 4.5 sacks with 35 solo tackles in the regular season, and he had three tackles (two solo) on Sunday against the Steelers.
The Chiefs’ offensive line has been riddled with injuries as Osemele and Schwartz are both on IR, and Remmers is still questionable with a back injury. Mahomes has been under duress more than usual as of late even though the Chiefs’ offensive line is ranked 11th according to PFF; but, the Browns’ defensive line is a different breed. It’ll be tough for some of the linemen to keep up, especially Wylie, who has been the weak point of that line for the season. It’s going to be an interesting battle in the trenches.
Others look towards Baker Mayfield as the biggest threat with good reason. He went 11-5 as a starter in the 2020-21 season with over 3500 yards passing, 26 touchdowns, and a 62.8% completion percentage. His ability to chuck it deeply- that we’ve seen the whole year- his vision and his overall skill set sets him apart from the pack. Stephen A. Smith praised him earlier in the year by saying:
“Baker Mayfield showed up and showed what he’s capable of. That’s the No. 1 overall pick we’ve been looking for.”Stephen A. Smith; Dec. 14th, 2020.
He was right on the money with that assessment. Against the Steelers on Sunday, he threw for 263 yards, three touchdowns, a 61% completion percentage, and a 115.2 QB rating. He’s definitely someone the Chiefs have to look out for heading into this matchup.
What do you think is the biggest threat on the Browns heading into next week’s game? Leave a comment down below to join the discussion. Thanks for reading, and have a fantastic day