Chiefs earn playoff berth with win over Browns

Written off in October, the resilient Kansas City Chiefs (10-5) are playoff bound after taking care of business in Sunday's tight 17-13 win over the Cleveland Browns (3-12). Here's what you need to know:

  1. Looking to become just the second team in NFL history to make the playoffs after a 1-5 start, the Chiefs are postseason-bound after knocking off the Browns just as the Ravens put Pittsburgh away in Baltimore. It was no easy victory, but Kansas City's ninth straight win assures them a wild-card berth. That might not be all, as the Chiefs can also win the AFC West if Denver loses one their final two games and Kansas City beats the Raiders next Sunday. It's hard to look past Ron Rivera and Bruce Arians, but Andy Reid deserves Coach of the Year attention after pulling this off.
  1. This was a weird one that boiled down to Johnny Manziel and the Browns running out of time on a potential winning drive that fizzled out in Kansas City territory with Cleveland trailing by four. It was a tale of two halves for Manziel, who threw for just 54 yards over the first two quarters before returning to light up the Chiefs on the ground over the final 30 minutes. Running for 108 yards on the day, Johnny turned an ugly start around in the third period with a gutsy 20-play, 62-yard field goal march that ate 12:01 off the clock and saw the Browns passer extend one play after the next with his feet. We still saw too many poor reads and off-kilter throws, but Manziel showed toughness playing through a series of brutal hits. The diminutive signal-caller has a long way to go, but the Browns would be foolish to trade him away this offseason without a longer look.
  1. Alex Smith's 11-yard touchdown strike to Jeremy Maclin capped a dominant opening drive that chewed eight-plus minutes off the clock while putting the Chiefs receiver over 1,000 yards on the year. It was tough sailing from there, though, with Smith throwing an ugly second-quarter pick before getting back on track with a clutch touchdown march before the half to put the Chiefs up 17-3. Like Manziel, Smith was especially dangerous on the ground with 54 yards rushing, but almost all of that came early for a Reid-led offense that barely took the field in the second half.
  1. Marcus Peters deserves plenty of hype for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors after the first-round cornerback notched his eighth pick on the season, tying a franchise record for interceptions by a rookie. He's been an outstanding fit for Bob Sutton's productive secondary.
  1. Much has been made of Cleveland's draft-day busts, but rookie Nate Orchard is a player to watch. Along with his interception of Smith, the second-round pass rusher finished with a pair of tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and a pass defensed.
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