By Keegan Ohta.
A lot of Cleveland fans thought the pain would last forever, that the playoffs were an unreachable brass ring. But 18 years later, the Browns are back in the playoffs and are playing for a spot in what could be their first AFC Championship since 1990.
Somewhere in the distance, you can hear Drew Carey shouting, “Cleveland Rocks! Cleveland Rocks!”
But now, Cleveland will have to face a team that everyone thought would be on the repeat run, and was proven right. The Browns will have to play Madden-curse breaker Patrick Mahomes and the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
Let’s first go to the history between these two teams. Although never meeting in the playoffs before, the Browns have played the Chiefs 26 times, but Kansas City leads the series 13-11-2, with the last three meetings going to the Chiefs, although two of those last three ended in one-possession games.
So you may ask yourself, how did the Browns get here? Well if you look at their schedule, it was bound to happen. Regardless of their first loss in week one to the Ravens, they had two winning streaks of four games apiece.
That’s also not to forget that they have two running backs that are big threats.
Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are responsible for a combined 2,363 yards and 23 touchdowns. To put that in perspective, the Browns offense had 5,913 yards and 48 touchdowns, meaning that Chubb and Hunt are responsible for 40% of the yardage and 48% of the touchdowns.
You also have multiple targets for Baker Mayfield to throw to with seven receivers/tight ends getting two or more touchdowns throughout the regular season.
So you have a good offense, but that’s also trying to stack up against the Kansas City offense.
While the Browns have two non-quarterback players that have over 1,000 yards, there are three for Kansas City: a tight end, a wide receiver and a running back; aka, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
With a lineup of weapons, the Chiefs went on to get a league best 14-2 record, with their only two losses going against the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers (although the Chargers loss was in week 17 and the Chiefs had already locked in the number one seed).
Although playing in 15 of 16 games, Mahomes has been nothing short of incredible again this season. His touchdown-interception ratio is second-best amongst starting quarterbacks at about 6.3-1. The only other quarterback that beats that ratio is Aaron Rodgers with a 9.6-1 TD-INT ratio.
Both defenses also give up similar amounts of yards per game, both at about 358 yards on average, ranking them 16th and 17th, so there should be some expectancy to be a high scoring game should all the gears turn in the right direction.
In the end, only one can move on. Will Andy Reid be able to grab a victory cheeseburger at the end of this game, or will Drew Carey be shouting “Cleveland Rocks!” up and down “The Price is Right” studio next week?
Oh, great. Now I can’t get the song out of my head…
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