In the AFC nowadays, there’s the Kansas City Chiefs, and then there’s everyone else. With Patrick Mahomes under center and the plethora of game-breaking weapons he has surrounding him on offense, the Chiefs will be the team to beat in the AFC for years to come.
The Chiefs are still the team to beat in the AFC
For most of the last 20 years, the AFC ran through Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The Pats emerged out of the conference to reach the Super Bowl nine times from 2002-2019, and they hoisted the Lombardi Trophy six times over that span.
But Brady is now getting his tan on in sunny Tampa Bay, and a new dynasty has taken control of the AFC.
The Chiefs have reached the AFC Championship Game in three straight seasons, and they’ve made it to the Super Bowl in each of the last two. Mahomes has led Kansas City to a top-six scoring offense in the NFL three years in a row, and the defense has steadily improved ever since the Texas Tech gunslinger moved into the starting role.
As long as Mahomes and his elite weaponry on the outside stay healthy, the Chiefs will be the team to beat in the AFC until further notice.
Travis Kelce believes the Chiefs and Browns are “neck and neck”
The Chiefs may be the prohibitive favorites to triumph in the AFC this season for the third straight time, but they’ll have a noticeable target on their back come playoff time. So, who stands the best chance of knocking off the kings of the conference?
Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns, says Kelce.
“They’re definitely a contender, without a doubt,” Kelce said Saturday, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. “It’s definitely there. Baker [Mayfield] and the gang have upped the ante, made this team an unbelievable team and a team you have to prepare for and take serious. I think that moving forward without a doubt, I can see a lot more playoff games between us, and I’ll just take it one day at a time and hope for it. I think the Browns and Chiefs are definitely neck and neck.”
Those are some strong words about a team that has resided in the basement of the AFC for two decades. Cleveland has reached the playoffs just two times since 1994, but this isn’t your typical Browns team. This Browns team took the Chiefs down to the wire in last year’s AFC Divisional Round, and they could easily be Kansas City’s biggest threat moving forward.
“It’s impressive to see where they’ve come from and where they are now because it’s a legit contender,” Kelce continued. “And every team’s going to have to bring it.”
Kelce was a huge Browns fan growing up
When football players are drafted into the NFL, they are forced to bury their childhood allegiances to their hometown teams. For Kelce, that team just happened to be the Browns.
Kelce was born in Westlake, Ohio, which is just about a 30-minute drive from the city of Cleveland.
“I’ve always had a special spot in my heart for the Browns,” Kelce said. “It’s an awesome atmosphere, the sports town is like no other. Cleveland, I grew up in and I am a part of this sports town.
“I bleed everything 216.”
When the Chiefs open their 2021 season at home against the Browns, Kelce’s family and friends will be pulling for him to lose against their favorite NFL team.
“Even when I’m playing against the Browns, they’re rooting for the Browns, whether they’re family or not. It’s a fun rivalry,” he said. “I don’t know if the teams are rivals but I know in my heart I always have a little more to play for when I play Cleveland.”