The Kansas City Chiefs, the AFC team to receive the lone bye this past weekend for having the best record in the conference, got an eyeful during the NFL’s “Wild-Card Weekend.”
The Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns put on performances that definitely have garnered the Chiefs’ attention. Buffalo was given a push by Indianapolis, but Josh Allen time and again delivered big time. In a physical slugfest, Baltimore spotted Tennessee 10 points before coming back for the victory, then Cleveland shocked Pittsburgh with an early onslaught and held off the Steelers’ comeback attempt in the second half.
With Cleveland’s upset, it’s the Browns – not the Ravens – who will be visiting Kansas City this weekend. No matter who advanced to play the Chiefs, all three challenges provide huge headaches.
Make no mistake, the Browns are the team KC most wants to play of the three. Given the rolls Buffalo and Baltimore are on and how much emotional energy Cleveland used up against arch-rival Pittsburgh, I like KC’s chances more against Cleveland than if it played Baltimore or Buffalo.
The Brown had one of those “perfect-storm” games, where Pittsburgh’s sleepwalking start buried it in a 35-7 hole and it simply could never stop the Baker Mayfield-led offense.
It’s hard to imagine the Browns causing so many turnovers by a Chiefs team that doesn’t turn it over very often. Patrick Mahomes has become much more disciplined, as he doesn’t try to squeeze in passes as much into tight windows as he used to.
I thought Kansas City wheezed to the finish line. The game with the LA Chargers was little more than an exhibition since the Chiefs played their backups. But the seven previous games they won by a touchdown or less. I don’t know if it was boredom or what, but Kansas City seemed to lack the put-away instinct.
My concern with Cleveland is how well it runs the ball. Nick Chubb and former Chief Kareem Hunt make up the best 1-2 tandem in the NFL and Hunt already has said this game is personal to him since he was cut from Kansas City due to his domestic violence incident. You have to worry about the Chiefs’ defense getting off the field as the Browns could very well control the ball and keep it out of the hands of Mahomes. Chubb is an All-Pro and Hunt once was and from what he showed Sunday, he is still one of the NFL’s best backs.
Buffalo and Baltimore should be a dandy. I’m sticking with the Ravens, because Lamar Jackson has finally gotten over the hump of winning a playoff game and he was electrifying against the Titans. I’ve been on the Baltimore bandwagon all year, even when it was struggling, and I’m not jumping off. The Ravens are playing with a lot of swag and have been the best team in the NFL the last 6 weeks
In the NFC, I like the Packers to emerge as they should beat the Rams handily this week. Tampa Bay and New Orleans should be fascinating, but the Bucs’ offense is on fire. There’s just something about the Saints that I can’t bank on.