Mahomes leads champion Chiefs to 14-2 mark in stacked AFC

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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes throws a pass while being chased down by Atlanta Falcons Jacob Tuioti-Mariner during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

So often, uneasy is the head that wears the crown. Yet the Kansas City Chiefs followed up their first Super Bowl title in half a century by posting the NFL’s best record at 14-2, earning the AFC’s only first-round bye in the expanded playoff format.

Before their “B” team lost to the Chargers last weekend with Andy Reid resting his stars, the Chiefs had won 23 of 24 games, a 40-32 loss to the Raiders in Week 5 their only hiccup.

The Chiefs didn’t dominate teams as much as they withstood challenge after challenge like a champion boxer who knows how to avoid the big hit while chipping away until he wears down his opponent.

Mahomes won his last seven starts by 2, 4, 3, 6, 6, 3 and 3 points.

While the Chiefs get another week’s rest, the six other AFC playoff teams get going this weekend.

On Saturday, the Indianapolis Colts visit the Buffalo Bills, who ended New England’s 11-year reign as AFC East champ with their first division title since 1995 and earned their first home playoff game since 1996.

The Cleveland Browns make their first playoff appearance since the 2002 season on Sunday when they visit Pittsburgh, where they haven’t won since 2003, and the Tennessee Titans host the Baltimore Ravens.

For just the second time since the 1970 league merger, every team in the AFC playoffs has at least 11 wins. It also happened in 1980.