While the bye week was nice, it's been too long since we've seen Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes take the field for a football game.
That all will change Sunday as Mahomes and the starters will play in their first contest in 21 days when the Cleveland Browns come to town for their AFC divisional-round meeting.
Browns Digest's Pete Smith joined me on today's Roughing the Kicker podcast to preview the game and discuss what the Browns could do to swing the result in their favor.
While Cleveland does have an outside chance to win this weekend's game, here are some things the Chiefs can do to make that not happen.
1. Don't turn the ball over.
The Browns started their Wild Card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on a 28-0 run thanks to Pittsburgh turnovers. If Kansas City can play as they normally do, I don't see this being a problem. Mahomes does a great job of taking care of the football and that will be necessary this week. With an opportunistic team like Cleveland, not giving them extra chances will be crucial.
2. Get pressure on Baker Mayfield.
Getting pressure on the quarterback when just sending the front four has been a struggle this season for the Chiefs and could continue to be with the Browns starting to get healthy along the offensive line. If Kansas City can shut down the run and take an early lead, getting pressure on Mayfield will become paramount as the Browns offense becomes one dimensional when they are playing from behind. Cleveland likes to run boot plays so putting Frank Clark and Chris Jones on the ends and Derrick Nnadi and Mike Pennell on the inside could give the Chiefs the right combination of run-stopping power and solid pass-rushing ability.
3. Don't force things early.
It will be natural for Kansas City to want to make big plays early, especially since they haven't played in a while. I anticipate the Browns to play deep quarters on defense, likely taking away deep shots for the offense. With this, the Chiefs will have to take what they're given underneath and get their playmakers in space. Whether it's screen passes to the running backs, sit down routes with Travis Kelce or Mahomes scrambles, Kansas City will be able to do what it wants but it could take some patience at first.
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