KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Regardless of their lengthy and storied histories, with the Cleveland Browns having joined the NFL in 1950 and the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs with the AFL-NFL merger some 16 years later, the 2 franchises have hardly ever met — and by no means within the playoffs.
They’re definitely accustomed to one another headed into their divisional-round showdown Sunday, although.
Begin with the coaches: The Browns’ Kevin Stefanski, who missed their first playoff win since 2002 final week in Pittsburgh on account of COVID-19, was a summer season intern for Chiefs counterpart Andy Reid throughout his days with Philadelphia. Stefanski later adopted Reid disciple Brad Childress to Minnesota, studying lots of the nuances of his system alongside the best way.
Then take into account the quarterbacks: The Browns’ Baker Mayfield hosted the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes throughout a go to to Texas Tech, earlier than he transferred to Oklahoma. Later of their school careers, Mayfield and Mahomes waged an epic duel that shattered all types of information and ended with the Sooners claiming a 66-59 victory.
Lastly, ponder the remainder of the rosters: John Dorsey helped construct each groups as normal supervisor, solely to observe them succeed from afar. Browns working again Kareem Hunt acquired his begin in Kansas Metropolis earlier than off-field points led to his launch. Nearly everybody else has a former teammate, school or professional, standing on the opposite facet.
“It’s at all times enjoyable to play pleasant competitors,” Mayfield mentioned, “and play in opposition to individuals you’re accustomed to.”
“I’ve identified him for a very long time, since I used to be a senior in highschool,” Mahomes mentioned of Mayfield, “and to have the ability to play on this stage is particular. He acquired the higher of me in school. I’ll attempt my greatest to get the higher of him within the NFL.”
There may be an finish to the similarities, in fact. The long-suffering Browns haven’t gained two playoff video games in a season since 1950, lengthy earlier than the time period “Tremendous Bowl” was coined by Chiefs proprietor Lamar Hunt. Kansas Metropolis has gained 5 straight AFC West titles and nonetheless has the tailwind of successful its first Lombardi Trophy in 5 a long time.
“They positively are a constructing staff. Superb staff. Very younger staff,” Chiefs extensive receiver Tyreek Hill mentioned. “We can not take this opponent doubtless. We’ve to play this sport like another sport, come out and play exhausting and be the Chiefs.”
Mayfield and Mahomes are the primary to reward their teammates for his or her marvelous seasons. Vast receiver Jarvis Landry and working backs Hunt and Nick Chubb take numerous the stress off Mayfield, whereas Mahomes has Hill, tight finish Travis Kelce and working backs Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell at his disposal.
“Simply expertise all around the area offensively with the quarterback, who’s particular, and velocity in any respect areas,” Stefanski mentioned. “They’re quick. They’re very sound. Typically, an enormous problem. We perceive that.”
Hunt’s return to Kansas Metropolis will stir good and dangerous recollections. He led the NFL in speeding as a rookie in 2017, solely to have his profession derailed by video of him punching and kicking a lady in a resort hallway.
Hunt has resurrected his profession, although, and Cleveland native Kelce couldn’t be extra pleased with his former teammate: “Kareem has performed an unbelievable job of simply going on the market, taking part in soccer and retaining his head on straight,” he mentioned. “I’m pleased as hell for him.”
After Sunday’s win in Pittsburgh, Hunt posted on Instagram that his return to Kansas Metropolis could be “private.”
“Kareem talked about this sport all 12 months like he knew it was going to occur,” Chubb mentioned. “He’s able to go.”
The Browns are largely again to regular after COVID-19 threatened to knock them out of the playoffs. Stefanski returned to the staff Thursday, 10 days after he examined constructive, and many of the gamers who additionally examined constructive have returned.
“He by no means panicked,” Browns linebacker B.J. Goodson mentioned. “He stayed the course, and we’re right here.”
Goodson was a kind of that examined constructive. He mentioned his an infection “hit actually, actually exhausting,” and it led to 4 extensive receivers being dominated out in opposition to the Steelers due to shut contact after they have been round him within the pool restoration space.
REST VS RUST
Lots of the Chiefs’ starters, together with Mahomes, Hill and Kelce, will step onto the sector for the primary time in 21 days. They locked up the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye in Week 16, and Reid selected to relaxation them of their regular-season finale slightly than threat an damage. However no one throughout the facility at 1 Arrowhead Drive appears too involved about rust.
“Our guys apply quick. They do it day in and day trip,” Reid mentioned, “and that’s an essential high quality to have, particularly presently of 12 months and the best way we’ve been scheduled right here.”
GETTING OUT OF THE GATES
One emphasis for the Chiefs is to start out quick this postseason, particularly after they watched the Browns race to a 28-0 lead in opposition to the Steelers final weekend. They struggled to try this final 12 months, and it took three double-digit comebacks — in opposition to the Texans, Titans and the 49ers within the Tremendous Bowl — for the Chiefs to win the championship.
“Our coaches introduced it up: ‘Let’s not put ourselves in the identical place we did final 12 months,’” Hill mentioned. “We simply have to return out and have the power we’ve had all 12 months. Get the ball to the playmakers and let Pat be particular with the ball in his hand.”
AP Sports activities Author Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.
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