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Browns/Chiefs & Buccaneers/Saints Parlay Preview Article

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NFL Divisional Round Parlay Plays: Bets to Win Big on Sunday



Cleveland Browns vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, January 17, 2021 at 3:05 p.m. ET (CBS) at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri


Trend


Oddsmakers are asking the Chiefs to win this game by double digits in order to cover the spread.

But the last time where the Chiefs won by this many points is November 1, when they beat the second-worst team in football, the New York Jets.

Since that game, Kansas City’s largest margin of victory was six points, which they achieved twice. Both six-point losers were non-playoff teams, Miami and Denver.

Run Defense

Run defense is clearly a weakness of the Chiefs’ defense, possibly their biggest among others.

During the regular season, they ranked last-place among playoff teams in Expected Points Added (EPA) per opposing rush attempt.

Cleveland is primed to exploit this weakness because it has one of the best rush attacks in the NFL. The Browns rank third in accruing 147.1 rushing yards per game.

Kansas City defenders have often been notoriously bad tacklers. This weakness surfaced like a sore thumb at the earliest in Week 2 against the Chargers, who were repeatedly able to turn small gains into larger ones en route to an overtime defeat. This weakness has resurfaced throughout the season.

Meet Nick Chubb, Cleveland’s top running back who has amassed the fourth-highest total of broken tackles. Chubb used his strength and balance to rank top-seven in rushing yards and YPC. He forms a tandem with Kareem Hunt, who helps explain why the Brown rush attack ranks as highly as it does.

Tight Ends

Tight ends form an instrumental component of the Browns’ run-heavy offense.

The Browns will frequently line up with multiple tight ends. They will appear to want to run, thus posing a threat that the Chiefs must respect. Then they will have quarterback Baker Mayfield at his best by executing a play-action or bootleg.

Austin Hooper was a frequent target in the team’s first playoff game as he caught seven of 11 targets for 46 yards. David Njoku is also someone who Mayfield has enjoyed chemistry with since before Hooper arrived to Cleveland.

Njoku catches a very high rate of his targets for a first down. Then there’s also Harrison Bryant in case Hooper and Njoku aren’t enough.

Kansas City allows the fifth-highest amount of yards to opposing tight ends. So Cleveland’s trio will hurt the Chiefs.

Top Cornerbacks

If Cleveland’s pass defense worries you after looking at Ben Roethlisberger’s stats, note before all else the soft coverage and great cushion that the Browns afforded Steeler wide receivers.

With a big lead, the Browns wanted to force Pittsburgh to grind out drives by completing one short pass over the other.

While Brown cornerbacks got beat in individual match-ups, their unit was outmanned because they missed their top two cornerbacks.

Both cornerbacks, Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson, should be good to go this Sunday.

Denzel Ward is especially important because he boasts the speed and coverage ability needed to account for Chief speedster and top receiver Tyreek Hill.

Ward allows a 54.3 percent completion rate and 78.3 passer rating when targeted. He’s had no problem limiting super-speedsters like Baltimore’s Marquise Brown and Las Vegas’ Henry Ruggs to one catch or fewer. He’s also mastered tougher tests in coverage.

The Verdict

Cleveland flounders under pressure and anticipation, but thrives as an underdog. Nobody is giving the Browns a chance. But they will be healthier and more well-practiced than they were for their game against Pittsburgh. They have the offensive firepower to keep pace with a Chief offense that will have to navigate stronger cornerbacks while scheming for stud pass rusher Myles Garrett.





Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints
Sunday, January 17, 2021 at 6:40 p.m. ET (FOX) at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana


Mike Evans


Mike Evans is absolutely Tampa Bay’s top wide receiver.

He led all Buccaneer pass-catchers in receiving yards, targets, receptions, yards per catch, and touchdowns.

Tampa Bay’s reliance on Evans is problematic because the Saints excel at stopping the opposing offense’s top option at wide receiver.

Marshon Lattimore is going to cover Evans. This is an assignment that Lattimore loves to have.

Lattimore and Evans know each other well with the former arguably residing in the latter’s head. In two games this year, Evans caught a combined total of three passes for 29 yards.

Alvin Kamara

By a large margin, Tampa Bay has the NFL’s best run defense. The Buccaneers boast a solid group of linebackers which helps them allow 80.9 rushing yards per game, 9.9 fewer than the next-best run defense.

They are also great at defending pass-catching running backs, which is important to note because Kamara easily led the Saints in receptions, targets, and receiving yards.

When Kamara faced the Bucs this year, he totaled 60 receiving yards and 56 rushing yards.

Michael Thomas

Wide receiver Michael Thomas has been Drew Brees’ top target for years.

But cornerback Carlton Davis has had his number, allowing him to accrue 56 receiving yards combined in their two meetings.

Davis has struggled against absolute speedsters like Tyreek Hill and Atlanta’s Calvin Ridley.

But he is gladly a physical type of cornerback with his size and strength who, in terms of opposing rate of receptions to targets and opposing receiving yards, does really well against guys like Chicago’s Allen Robinson and Michael Thomas who rely on making contested catches.

Reasoning

This total posted for this game is as high as it is because both offenses possess big-named stars. But both defenses have the personnel to shut them down and to force other, non-prolific players to step up.

Best Bet: Parlay Browns +10 at -105 & Buccaneers/Saints Under 51.5 at -105 at +281 odds with Bookmaker
 

2daBank

VC's Valentine
Browns pass defense worried me way before steelers game where I agree a lot those yards were curtesy of soft coverage trying to hold a big lead.
 

2daBank

VC's Valentine
I think this Bucs/saints game gonna be when we see how big a addition Antonio brown was. He gonna have to have a big game as I agree it be tough sledding for Evans!!
 

2daBank

VC's Valentine
Certainly can’t argue against the Bucs or saints defenses but still a hard game to play under!! Just not sure I see either team being held under 24?

The bar for what constitutes good or even great defense these days has been lowered quite a bit! Very hard to stop great offenses from putting up points these days!! Hell, I’d argue defenses outplayed most the offenses wild card weekend and we still got 3-2-1 or 4-2 to over depending on line ya got! No better example than rams/Seattle, total domination by the defenses and it goes over! Lol
 
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