The New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs faced each other twice during the 2018 season, and both times their battles were quite epic. While New England won each of the games — 43-40 in week six and 37-31 in the AFC title game — Kansas City showed that it was capable of hanging with the eventual world champions. It is therefore no surprise to find out that Patriots fans think highly of the Chiefs heading into 2019.
How do we know? Because of our FanPulse survey (sign up here!), which included a question this week asking participants about which team they viewed as New England’s biggest challengers in the AFC right now. The results are unsurprising, at least when it comes to the top spot:
Kansas City Chiefs: 72.3%
Cleveland Browns: 12.3%
Los Angeles Chargers: 6.2%
Indianapolis Colts: 4.6%
Baltimore Ravens: 3.1%
As can be seen, almost three-fourths of polled Patriots fans see the Chiefs again as the Patriots’ main rival for the conference title at this point in time. For Pete Sweeney, managing editor at our sister site Arrowhead Pride, this result also does not necessarily come as too big a surprise. “I think in Chiefs’ fans mind, getting over the Broncos after all those years of dominance was the first step,” he said.
“Now they want the AFC, and the conference runs through Foxboro,” Pete continued when talking about the FanPulse numbers. “I think the high number in your poll was obviously coming for two reasons: 1) the Chiefs showed twice last year that they can hang (and not beat, we know) with the Patriots, and 2) Patriots fans have a lot of respect for a team with a quarterback, and the Chiefs have one in Patrick Mahomes.”
While the top spot is in Kansas City’s hands, the list becomes more interesting the further down we go: the Cleveland Browns, who were big spenders in free agency and have an intriguing young quarterback of their own in Baker Mayfield, are seen as the top challenger coming out of the AFC North — not bad for a team that finished the 2018 season with a 7-8-1 record and out of the playoffs. However, the Browns’ hype train is rolling full steam ahead.
Behind Cleveland are some familiar faces in the Los Angeles Chargers, Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens — three playoff teams from a year ago. Their numbers, however, are less impressive than the Chiefs’ or even the Browns’, which shows us how Patriots fans feel about the current power structure in the conference.
If you are interested in participating in our FanPulse survey, please click here!