The season kicks off Sunday at Arrowhead. Here are the three things the Kansas City Chiefs must do to win against the Cleveland Browns.
- Control the line of scrimmage offensively and defensively
This game is going to be a tremendous test of the physicality of the Chiefs on both sides of the ball. The Browns are going to come in and try to establish a heavy ground and pound run game with both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Last season in the Divisional Round the Chiefs were able to bottle up the run game, in large part due to a stellar performance from the defensive line.
All eyes will be on the Chiefs new offensive line upfront, and they will have their work cut out for them against Myles Garrett and an improving Browns defense. This is the perfect chance to come out and make a statement. They need to be playing to the echo of the whistle on every play, run blocking and pass blocking. If they can give Mahomes a clean pocket that increases the team’s chances of winning greatly. If they can dominate in the run game it opens up a new set of problems for the Browns.
2. Create more explosive plays than the Browns
Explosive plays are key to winning modern NFL games, as they can change the momentum of the game in a heartbeat, as well as score.
Since 2016, Tyreek Hill has been the most explosive playmaker in the NFL, and we have seen the direct result of his speed and power culminating in big play after big play. It’s his ability to go deep combined with the ability to Mahomes that keeps defensive coordinators awake at night.
We know what Mahomes and Hill can do, but looking back at the game last year the team looks like they’re setting up Mecole Hardman to have some big rips in this game, just based on the scheme they used.
This will be a make-or-break year for Mecole Hardman, and only he can decide his future. We have seen the flash, now we need the substance. As teams key in more and more on Hill for explosive plays that open up the window in so many ways for Hardman to come out and make a difference in the game.
3. Win on third down
It may seem like an old cliche, but even something as simple as winning third downs can go a long way in winning football games, and this week is no exception. The more times the Chiefs offense can convert on third down, the more momentum they build, the more it depletes the defense. On the other side of the ball, every stop to get the offense off the field builds momentum, and it creates a sense of desperation for the offense.
Third downs are crucial for the outcome of games, but fourth down plays can actually be the plays that decide games. We saw the Chiefs convert on two giant fourth downs last season against the Browns.
It’s a game of inches and every inch counts when it comes to winning and losing.
The game kicks off at 3:25 CT Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.