Travis Kelce is admittedly biased when it comes to Cleveland. It's where he's from and home to the teams he rooted for growing up.
On Saturday, the Chiefs' All-Pro tight end attended Jarvis Landry's celebrity softball game in Eastlake, Ohio donning a Cleveland Indians jersey and hat while reveling in the company of local legend Bernie Kosar and several current Browns. It's not surprising then that Kelce would be complimentary of the hometown team.
What wasn't expected was the conviction he had about Cleveland challenging Kansas City for AFC supremacy.
"I would say they're definitely a contender, without a doubt," Kelce said at the charity event, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. "It's definitely there. Baker (Mayfield) and the gang have upped the ante, made this team an unbelievable team and a team you have to prepare for and take serious. I think that moving forward, without a doubt, I can see a lot more playoff games between us, and I'll just take it one day at a time and hope for it. I think the Browns and Chiefs are definitely neck and neck, for sure."
That's probably not a popular opinion outside of The Land. But the two teams weren't far apart when they last squared off, in the AFC Divisional Round this past January. Cleveland came within a fourth-down stop from possessing the ball at midfield with a chance to take the lead in the final minute of a 22-17 loss. While Patrick Mahomes being knocked out in the third quarter certainly had an impact on the game's complexion, the Browns proved that day and down the stretch of last season that they can't be ignored.
After all, the franchise ended two longstanding playoff droughts -- 17 years without an appearance and 25 years without a win -- while backed by a first-year head coach and budding nucleus on both sides of the ball. Kelce is anticipating even more from the Browns in 2021, specifically noting the impact of Mayfield, defensive end Myles Garrett and general manager Andrew Berry.
"It's impressive to see where they've come from and where they are now because it's a legit contender, and every team's going to have to bring it," Kelce said.
That includes his own Chiefs in Week 1 of the upcoming season and, if Kelce's assertions are accurate, maybe again in the postseason.