Could the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs become the next great rivalry in the AFC? We look at that possibility as they prepare to play in Week 1.
There are many things that make the NFL great, however, the thing I enjoy the most about it is the rivalries. There are many great rivalries across the league such as Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos, New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers vs Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens, and many more!
Each rivalry has something that is unique and that’s what makes them all so different and amazing to watch. But there are a couple of key factors that really make a rivalry feel real and genuine.
First, there has to be animosity between the two teams. Second, there should be something on the line, besides bragging rights.
When the Browns hosted the Steelers in Week 17, there was something on the line. Cleveland was trying to get into the playoffs for the first time in several years, while the Steelers were fighting the Buffalo Bills for the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs.
However, it doesn’t feel like we’ve had a fresh new rivalry in a long time. But we could be on the verge of solving this problem. Every rivalry has some type of spark that really ignites it and begins the animosity.
Browns fans all remember the key play from the AFC Divisional game at Arrowhead Stadium last season. With less than two minutes remaining in the first half, Baker Mayfield threw a pass to wide receiver Rashard Higgins. Higgins makes the catch, runs for a few yards, and then he proceeds to extend the ball across the goal line.
However, Chiefs safety Daniel “Dirty Dan” Sorensen lowered his helmet and hit Higgins directly in the head. This caused the ball to come loose and go into the endzone. This resulted in a touchback and the ball going back to Kansas City. Also, the helmet-to-helmet contact by Sorensen was not called a targeting penalty as it should have been.
If you add all of that together, you could very easily have the spark that causes the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs to have a rivalry. Especially because the Browns and Chiefs will be renewing acquaintances in Week 1. So there will be no waiting around for these two teams.
But there’s a major caveat, Cleveland has to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke. They have to prove that they’re here to stay because everyone expects Kansas City to do that. If the Browns can’t build on what they did last season, any chance of the rivalry developing goes up in smoke.