NFL regular season football is back! This week, the two-time reigning AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs start their season at home with a matchup against the Cleveland Browns.
These two teams met last year in the Divisional Round of the playoff last year. Kansas City defeated Cleveland to advance to the AFC Championship Game, 22-17. In the game, Chiefs quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, left in the third quarter due to a concussion.
Chad Henne came in and marked his name in KC history books with a run on third down and fourth-down conversion to secure the victory.
Cleveland returns to Arrowhead Stadium with sights set on revenge, but playing the Chiefs at any time is as difficult as it gets. However, in September, the Chiefs are unstoppable. They have won 14 straight games in the month of September. In his first three seasons, Mahomes is 10-0 in September with 32 passing touchdowns and zero interceptions.
On the flip side, Cleveland has not won a season opener in 16 years, which is an NFL record. Since 1999, the Browns are 1-20 in Week 1 games.
What to Watch: Offense
On offense, the Kansas City Chiefs have been amongst the best in the NFL. Mahomes is an MVP frontrunner this season and 221 yards away from breaking Kurt Warner’s record for the most passing yards in a player’s first 50 starts. He is also three passing touchdowns away from breaking Dan Marino’s record for the most passing touchdown in a player’s first 50 starts. He will make his 47th career start on Sunday.
Travis Kelce owns the NFL record with five consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons by a tight end. Tyreek Hill is arguably the most dangerous offensive weapon in the NFL. He had a career-high in receiving touchdowns last year with 15. Second-year running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is poised for a huge season with a new offensive line.
The Chiefs’ top priority was to revamp the offensive line. The signed guard Joe Thuney to a five-year deal and traded for tackle Orlando Brown. Those two will protect Mahomes’ blindside on the left. Three rookies will fill in the rest of the line. Creed Humphrey will start at center, Trey Smth at right guard, and Lucas Niang at right tackle. The line was impressive in the preseason, allowing zero sacks on 52 snaps.
Expect a quick start from the Chiefs as they will look to open up the short game early, looking for a vulnerability in the Cleveland defense to look downfield.
For the Browns, Baker Mayfield has emerged as the franchise quarterback that the Browns have been looking for. He has two established receivers alongside him in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. OBJ is returning from injury this year and looks to return to old as the top target. On the ground, the duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt can cause issues with Chubb’s dominant ground attack and Hunt’s receiving ability out of the backfield.
Expect the Browns to establish the ground game early with Chubb and to force Kanas City linebackers to go out in coverage when throwing the ball.
What to Watch: Defense
The Chiefs’ defense has some uncertainty this week. Tyrann Mathieu tested positive for COVID-19 last week and was activated from the COVID List on Saturday, but is questionable to play. He hasn’t practiced in 10 days and the team hopes he is physically able to play.
Additionally, linebacker Willie Gay was put on the Injured Reserve and is out for at least three weeks. Rookie Nick Bolton and Ben Niemann will take over his role. The addition of Jarran Reed creates flexibility on the line to move Chris Jones to the outside.
The Browns defense had two additions in free agency this year with Jadeveon Clowney and John Johnson. Clowney will play the opposite of Myles Garrett on the defensive line. Johnson will provide a boost at the back end of the secondary.
The Chiefs will have a full Arrowhead Stadium today for the first time since 2019. Kickoff is at 3:25 CST on CBS.