The Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns will face off in Week 1. The game will feature a rematch from the 2020 Divisional round game, which the Chiefs won 22-17. The Browns, led by receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, will undoubtedly be fired up and seeking revenge. The Chiefs are looking to rebound from a disappointing loss in Super Bowl LV. They got some good news on Tyrann Mathieu ahead of their season opener.
The Chiefs activated Tyrann Mathieu off the Reserve/COVID-19 list
The Kansas City Chiefs are getting Tyrann Mathieu back at the perfect time. They activated him off the NFL’s reserve-COVID-19 list. Mathieu recently tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The Chiefs listed him on the injury report as questionable, but Kansas City will need him for a tough Week 1 matchup.
The Chiefs seek their third consecutive AFC title, and Mathieu plays an integral role in this defense. After a few down years in Arizona, the two-time Pro Bowler revived his career with the Houston Texans. He signed a three-year deal with Kansas City in 2019 and has proven that he deserves an extension.
The 29-year-old safety has recorded 137 tackles, 10 interceptions, and 21 pass defenses in two seasons with the Chiefs. He’s coming off his second Pro Bowl season and was ranked No. 58 on NFL Network’s NFL Top 100 list heading into the 2021 season.
Tyrann Mathieu is one of the vocal leaders of this Chiefs team.
Mathieu played with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry at LSU
Before he was making plays in the NFL, Tyrann Mathieu was a star at LSU. It was in Baton Rouge where he earned the nickname the Honey Badger. He played two full seasons for the Tigers and recorded 133 combined tackles, 11 forced fumbles, six sacks, and four interceptions.
The Honey Badger was a bonafide playmaker. He was a Heisman finalist in 2011 and took home the Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the best defensive player in college football. Mathieu also excelled as a dangerous punt returner in college.
The 2011 SEC Championship defense also featured several other NFL players, including Eric Reid, Kevin Minter, and Michael Brockers. The star-studded unit was dominant and played a significant role in the team’s success.
LSU had just as much talent on the offensive side of the ball as well. Cleveland Browns wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry were freshmen in 2011. Landry played minimal snaps in his first year, but Beckham caught 41 passes for 475 yards and two touchdowns.
In three seasons together with the Tigers, the wideouts combined for 280 receptions, 4,149 yards, and 27 touchdowns.
The LSU connection presents an intriguing storyline to the Browns-Chiefs Week 1 tilt.
Tyrann Mathieu and the Chiefs secondary will have their hands full with the Browns receivers
The Kansas City Chiefs are coming off back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. Everyone talks about Patrick Mahomes and the offense, and for a good reason. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill are elite receiving threats, and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is poised to take the next step in year two.
However, the Chiefs defense deserves more credit. Led by defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Kansas City ranked No. 11 in the NFL in total defense.
The Chiefs, by no means, have an elite shutdown defense. They’ve been susceptible to big plays over the past few seasons. This unit exhibits a bend-but-don’t-break mentality, and it is capable of making game-changing plays as well.
The Browns feature an offense that, historically, we’re not accustomed to seeing in Cleveland. They boast arguably the best running back tandem in the league in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Baker Mayfield is coming off of the best season of his young career.
Mayfield took the next step under head coach Kevin Stefanski. It helps that he gets to throw to Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Landry is a model of consistency and has recorded three 1,000-yard seasons since 2014. Beckham is returning from a torn ACL, but he’s a big play waiting to happen when healthy.
Safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill will be counted on in this one, as the Browns wideouts will match up with the young corners of the Chiefs.
The rematch will be one of the most intriguing matchups in Week 1.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.