The Cleveland Browns start the 2021 season where the 2020 season ended – in Kansas City versus the Chiefs. In that game, the Browns narrowly lost 22-17. Both teams made improvements in the 2021 off-season to fix team weaknesses. The Browns’ 2021 goal was simple: fix the defense. For the Chiefs, it was to fix the offensive line. The Browns’ new defense versus the Chiefs’ offense is the key matchup.
Kansas City’s offense is still high-powered, however, their early weakness might be their offensive line. Gone are tackles Eric Fisher and Michell Schwartz. While the Chiefs added center Austin Blythe, guard Kyle Long, guard Joe Thuney and tackle Orlando Brown; the new OL will need time to gel. In the Super Bowl, Tampa Bay showed what could happen to Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes if he’s pressured constantly. Kansas City didn’t score a touchdown. The Browns’ defense might feature as many as six to nine new starters. It appears Browns GM Andrew Berry built the 2021 Browns to beat Kansas City. With the new additions, defensive coordinator Joe Woods can bring pressure from anywhere on the field. The strength of the Kansas City offense is its speed and talent at the skill positions. However, the Browns will counter this with a revamped secondary. Tampa’s defense beat the Chiefs by pressuring with four players and covering with seven. The Browns now have the defense to achieve that goal.
Last year, the Browns showed they could move the ball on the Chiefs defense with the reemergence of tight end David Njoku as an offensive weapon. Cleveland returns all eleven starters on offense. Add the return of wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. and two talented draft picks in Anthony Schwartz and running back Demetric Felton. If healthy, Beckham will have to be double-teamed by the Chiefs. Schwartz has world-class speed and Felton can be a factor in the running game, passing game and return game. Remember, head coach Kevin Stefanski loves to use trick plays. Finally, the Browns return the best offensive line in the NFL.
The key to winning this game for the Browns starts in July and August. If there is a normal training camp and three preseason games, the Browns will be able to accumulate the new players to the system Joe Woods wants to run.
It’s all about practice, practice, practice.
At the beginning of any NFL season, defenses are always ahead of offenses, because it’s read and react as opposed to a set offensive system. If the Browns are to beat the Chiefs, it will come down to the Browns’ defense stopping the Chiefs’ offense.
Kevin Stefanski has the whole off-season to prepare for this game. He’ll have this team ready and thinking 1-0.