2021 AFC Divisional Playoff Preview: Browns Battle Chiefs

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CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 04: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns reacts runs a play during the fourth quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Here we will discuss the AFC Divisional Playoffs matchup between the Cleveland Browns and the Kansas City Chiefs. We will show how we got to this game as the Browns went into Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers last Sunday night. This game is being touted as a rematch of Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield from their days in the Big 12 Conference. This preview will look at both teams and how they can win the game and face off against either the Buffalo Bills or Baltimore Ravens, who are playing in the other AFC divisional playoff game, on Saturday.

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CLEVELAND, OH – NOVEMBER 04: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) looks to pass as Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware (32) blocks Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) during the fourth quarter of the National Football League game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns on November 4, 2018, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Chiefs road to the AFC Divisional Playoff

The Chiefs led the NFL this year with the best record at 14-2. Oddly enough, the two losses this season did come at home. The first came in week five against the Las Vegas Raiders in a shootout. The second home loss came while resting their key players in the last game of the year against the Chargers. Kansas City will be coming into this AFC divisional playoff game rather healthy. The only key injury will be to starting tackle, Mitchell Schwartz. Sammy Watkins is being listed as questionable, but at this time we are unsure if he will be active or not.

Patrick Mahomes is the leader of this team as he threw for 4,740 yards and 38 touchdowns. Travis Kelce is his main weapon with 105 catches, 1,416 yards, and 11 touchdowns. The ground attack is a two-headed monster with Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Leveon Bell, but Mahomes is dangerous as well. If the Browns cannot stop the Cheifs’ offense, this AFC divisional playoff will not even have a shot at being close.

Edwards-Helaire led the Chiefs with 803 yards four touchdowns. Mahomes has many more weapons on this team, namely one Tyreek Hill. Hill is one of the fastest players in the league, the reason they call him Cheetah. He had himself another Pro Bowl season with 87 catches, 1,276 yards, and 15 touchdowns. The Chiefs have played good defense at times this year, but have given up points.

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KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – DECEMBER 27: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Arrowhead Stadium on December 27, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The Browns Road to the AFC Divisional Playoff

The Cleveland Browns had a much tougher road to travel to get to this AFC divisional playoff game, with an 11-5 record. Cleveland was able to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2002 after beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in a week 17 game in Cleveland. With that win and a Bills win, that set up a third game with the Steelers, to be played in Pittsburgh.

Heinz Field has been a house of horrors for the Browns over the years and they were underdogs going into this game. These were not the same old Browns and it started right away as the Steelers botched the opening snap and let the Browns score a defensive touchdown. It was 7-0 Cleveland before 15 seconds was played in the game.

The Browns continued to be the aggressors all evening as they were able to get out to a 28-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers had no answers for what the Browns were doing to them. Cleveland came into this game with odds against them before the game even kicked off.

They were missing head coach Kevin Stefanski, who was ruled out due to catching Covid-19. Baker Mayfield led this offense and finished up the game with 263 yards passing and three touchdowns. Kareem Hunt added two rushing touchdowns while Nick Chubb and Jarvis Landry each had receiving touchdowns. This was a complete team effort for the Browns as they were also without starting left guard Joel Bitonio, who had never played a playoff game with the Browns. Stefanski will be back for this AFC divisional playoff game.

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CLEVELAND, OH – NOVEMBER 04: Chris Jones #95 of the Kansas City Chiefs talks with Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns after a 37-21 win by Kansas City at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

AFC Divisional Playoff Matchup Preview

For Kansas City to win, I think they need to just do what they normally do. Let Mahomes distribute the ball to his weapons as they move down the field. The only weapon that may be missing is Watkins, but there is enough talent on this team for Andy Reid to use.

Turnovers will be key in this AFC divisional playoff game. The Chiefs will have to not turn over the ball as this has been a big key to Cleveland winning games this year. It will be up to the Kansas City defense to see how they can control the Browns offense and minimize the damage that Chubb and Hunt do on the ground. If the Chiefs can stop the run on early downs and get pressure on Mayfield, this will help in stopping the play-action style offense that the Browns and Stefanski use.

Cleveland’s key to winning is very similar to what they did to the Steelers. Turnovers are a big reason that the Browns have gotten the wins they have this season. If Baker continues to play the way he has the last half of the season, 90.5 QBR, this is what the Browns were hoping for when they drafted him first overall just a few years ago.

Mayfield has been outperforming Mahomes statistically over the last half of the year and this game could turn out like their last college game, Oklahoma 66 Texas Tech 59. This game is at 3:05 pm on Sunday and will be on CBS. They will have Jim Nantz and Tony Romo on the call of this one and it should be a hell of a game. The winner of this AFC Divisional playoff will surely earn this one, it will not come easy. Get your popcorn ready.

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CLEVELAND, OH – NOVEMBER 04: Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) meet on the field prior to the National Football League game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns on November 4, 2018, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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