Scouting Ahead: Cleveland Browns Week 1 opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs
1. A full capacity Arrowhead Stadium
One of the great joys of opening day will be the sights and sounds of full stadiums once again in the National Football League. After a year of significantly reduced crowds, Covid-19 scares, and many lost loved ones there will be some semblance of normality at football stadiums this weekend. For the Browns, this means one of the toughest home crowds in the league will be at full strength to welcome them into the new season.
A significantly reduced capacity Arrowhead crowd proved a fairly formidable task for the Browns to manage in the playoff meeting last January, but for the most part, there was not a problem communicating between plays.
This time around it will be a different task entirely, and Baker Mayfield will need to show that he can continue being a commanding quarterback in Kevin Stefanski’s system with 70,000 plus hostile fans doing their best to play a part in stopping him.
It’s perhaps a factor at the back of many minds when considering matchups in week 1, but it has been quite some time since anyone played in front of a full crowd in the NFL. The effect of spectators on live sporting events is not exactly measurable, but it is far from non-existent either.
And with a Chiefs offense primed for a revenge tour after their end to last season, it’s likely that the Kansas City crowd will be a factor for the Browns to deal with the entire game.
They will need to keep up with Mahomes in a hostile environment, against a good-not-great defense, and they will need to keep their heads in order to do so. Last season’s opening game was a flop on the road against the Ravens.
Expectations are much higher this time around, and with an improved roster after a franchise-best season since before this writer was born, they will need to at the very least go down swinging late in Arrowhead.