KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s not that the regular season didn’t matter.
Finishing an all-time franchise-best 14-2 and securing the No. 1 seed in the AFC, along with the accompanying first-round bye, was a big deal and a big goal for the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
But the reality is that coach Andy Reid, quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the rest of the team, the ownership group and front office, all of Chiefs Kingdom and anyone who pays attention to the NFL expected the Chiefs to be in this position.
Now, the #RunItBack Tour begins in earnest.
Kansas City opens postseason defense of its crown at 2:05 p.m. on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns in the AFC Divisional playoffs.
The Browns brings one of the top rushing attacks in the NFL, arguably the top running back tandem in the league, Nick Chubb and former Chief Kareem Hunt, and a quarterback playing as well as he’s ever played in Baker Mayfield.
Will it matter? Our “4th & 1” podcast crew breaks down the game and why the Chiefs, who are heavily favored by oddsmakers, ought to advance to a third consecutive AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Browns are one of the NFL’s most-starved franchises in terms of postseason success.
Before last Sunday’s 48-37 win at Pittsburgh, Cleveland hadn’t won a playoff game since the 1994 season.
Heck, the Browns had only reached the postseason once — as a Wild Card in 2002 — during that 26-year span.
Cleveland is one of four NFL franchises — along with Detroit, Jacksonville and Houston — never to have reached the Super Bowl. The team’s last appearance in the AFC Championship Game came during the 1989 season.
Until recently, the Chiefs’ history hadn’t been much better.
Kansas City lost eight straight postseason games beginning with the 1993 AFC Championship Game at Buffalo until a 2015 Wild Card win at Houston.
That victory was the Chiefs’ only win during five playoff games in Reid’s first five seasons in Kansas City.
But the Chiefs are 4-1 in the postseason since Patrick Mahomes became the starting quarterback in 2018 and have hosted the AFC Championship Game the last two seasons, the only home title games in franchise history.