The 14-2 Kansas City Chiefs come into this game as the top seed in the AFC. The Chiefs were winners of 10 straight games before dropping a meaningless game to the Los Angeles Chargers in the season finale. Despite the sparkling record this year, the Chiefs have been playing with fire. They have not won a game by more than one score since they destroyed the New York Jets on November 1, 2020. Keep cutting it close like that and sooner or later you’re likely to drop a game. For now, however, the Chiefs are the hottest team in the AFC (not counting the meaningless loss to the Chargers when Patrick Mahomes didn’t play). The Chiefs offense behind Mahomes led the NFL in yards and was sixth in points. The defense, however, has been pedestrian. The Chiefs have barely been average against both the run and the pass this year. That average defense is where opponents can exploit the Chiefs and possibly generate an upset.
The 12-5 Cleveland Browns come into this game with a zero point differential for the year, including last week’s playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, suggesting their 12-5 record may be a bit of a mirage. The Browns cleaned up on a very weak schedule this year, but they do have signature wins over the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans to their credit. The Browns also beat a Steelers team resting many of its starters in the last game of the regular season, then beat them again last week in the wild card round of the playoffs. The Browns have been a wildly inconsistent team this year. They put up 48 points against a good Steelers defense last week, but they managed to average just 20 points a game over the prior three games against a weak slate of opponents. Prior to that the Browns put up 40+ points in back to back games against playoff opponents, but they scored 10 points or less in three of the five games prior to that. As Forrest Gump might say, the Browns are like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get. They’ll have to bring their A game if they want to upset the Chiefs in Kansas City today.
It’s the Chiefs and the Browns in the first game of a Sunday divisional round doubleheader. Enjoy the game everybody.