Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is having the best season of his career, and the Chiefs are hoping to cap that off with another Super Bowl title. But as a Cleveland native, Kelce sees the opportunity to face the Browns in Sunday’s AFC Divisional playoffs as more than just a game.
“Being from Cleveland and playing the Browns,” Kelce said, “it’s definitely kind of upped the ante a little bit.”
While Kelce is set for a tough matchup with the Browns on the field, he’s also in the middle of one off it.
“I got a lot of friends and a lot of family in Cleveland telling me I’m the enemy,” Kelce said. “It’s definitely going to be fun going up against the Browns, and it’s going to be an exciting game.”
Kelce said he, as much as anyone, knows how die-hard Browns fans can be, but he and the Chiefs are focusing on the game.
The unanimous First Team All-Pro tight end is coming off a year which saw him break the record for most receiving yards by a tight end in league history. He also had the second most receiving yards of any receiver in the league this season.
But when it comes to playoff time, Kelce said things ramp up a notch. He mentioned that quarterback Patrick Mahomes spent the bye week watching film from every possible opponent that the Chiefs could face.
“We’re in the process of figuring out the game plan,” Kelce said. “I think, like I said, what Pat does best is communicate exactly what he’s seeing and how he feels we need to attack the defense.”
When the Chiefs found out they would host the Browns, Kelce said Mahomes pulled out a notebook full of observations he’d seen on film to share with his teammates.
“Just trying to get a general feel of what the defense is presenting, what offenses are doing to try to attack them, from different teams, different offenses,” Mahomes said. “So I had a day’s worth of film on the Browns, so whenever we found that out, I was able to look back, look at my notes and try to see how it presents to us.”
Mahomes noted the strength of the Browns defense being its front seven. Former No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett led the way for Cleveland, compiling 12 sacks, good for sixth best in the league.
The Chiefs’ signal-caller has a connection of his own to Garrett which dates back to their high school days.
“I’ve known Miles for a long time, being in high school. Trust me, he was the exact same size in high school as he is now, so I’m glad I didn’t play him then,” Mahomes said. “He’s a tremendous player, plays extremely hard and has a ton of talent.”
While the Browns have obvious strengths on the defensive side of the ball, Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill noted how well-rounded the team is.
“Very good team, very young team,” Hill said. “I feel like we cannot take this opponent lightly. We got to play this game just like any other game. Come out, play hard and just be the Chiefs.”
Looking past the personal battles he is facing, Kelce said he knows the Chiefs need to bring their all Sunday because it’s win or go home.
“I think a lot of the close friends and family are going to be wearing their Chiefs gear, but maybe throw an orange shirt with a nice Browns helmet on underneath or something like that,” Kelce said. “It’s definitely going to be mixed feelings for a lot of people that I know, but at the same time, I’m going in with a mindset the Kansas City Chiefs got to win this game.”
The Chiefs and Browns square off Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2:05 p.m.