Yes, you read that headline correctly.
The Cleveland Browns, now led by fifth-round rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and a running back duo of Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt, have outscored the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
The margin is slim – the Browns have scored 227 points to the Chiefs’ 225 points – but the point still stands. While Cleveland has found ways to score despite a plethora of injuries to key starters on offense (including quarterback, running back and two offensive tackles), the Chiefs haven’t had much success despite Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce still playing. This all becomes a little less impressive, though, when juxtaposed with the rest of the NFL – these teams rank 15th and 16th in scoring, respectively.
But this is where credit should be given to the creative play-calling by head coach Kevin Stefanski. Although the Browns rank 21st in offensive yards, Stefanski has made the most of limited opportunities in the red zone with the 12th-highest touchdown conversion rate in the NFL. The Browns also have – statistically, at least – the best kicker in the NFL this year in Dustin Hopkins. He’s hit a league-high 26 field goals this season, including an NFL-best 7-for-7 from at least 50 yards.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, are simply having one of their worst offensive seasons in the Andy Reid-Mahomes era. Even worse: Kansas City can’t put up points in the second half. The Chiefs haven’t scored in the second half in four consecutive games and average an NFL-worst 5.9 second-half points this season.
Here’s the kicker: The Browns and Chiefs – as well as the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins – are tied with a 7-3 record. But since the Baltimore Ravens are 8-3 and are atop the AFC North standings, the Browns are still a wild card team.
The 2023 NFL season is as strange as ever.