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story.lead_photo.caption Chiefs defensive end Demone Harris (96) and teammates come onto the field for last month's preseason game against the Vikings at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Photo by Associated Press / News Tribune.

For the first time since the end of 2019 season, Arrowhead Stadium will be rocking.

The Kansas City Chiefs open their 2021 season this afternoon when they host the Cleveland Browns. And with the 3:25 p.m. kickoff, Chiefs fans will have plenty of time for quality tailgating before the start.

These are heady times for all Chiefs fans. After 50 years of ups and one heck of a lot of downs, Kansas City won its first Super Bowl in 50 years two seasons ago with a rally against the San Francisco 49ers.

Expectations were high for a repeat last season. The Chiefs almost made that happen, but a rash of injuries on the offensive line were too much to overcome in a loss to Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.

Can the Chiefs make a three-peat trip to the Super Bowl?

My friends in the desert certainly think so. Kansas City is the betting favorite to win it, with Tampa Bay next.

But again, can the Chiefs make a three-peat trip to the Super Bowl?

The New England Patriots made it to three straight Super Bowls from 2016-18, sandwiching wins against Atlanta and the Los Angeles Rams around a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. But that was the first time a team had done that since the Buffalo Bills lost four straight times in the early 1990s.

Getting to three consecutive championship games was rare also until the Patriots made it to eight straight in the AFC from 2011-18. OK, so the Patriots kind of skew the numbers.

But it will be difficult. The Chiefs have played a lot of extra games in three seasons, don't forget they lost at home to the Patriots in the AFC title game in 2019. And that can have some wear and tear on the body and provide the opportunity for additional injuries, like what happened to the offensive line earlier this year in the postseason.

There's a lot of ground to cover from today until Feb. 13, when the Super Bowl is slated to be played at SoFi Stadium, the home of the Rams and the Chargers in Inglewood, Calif.

When the NFL announces its season schedule early in the summer, it's a TV event. For two hours on ESPN and the NFL Network, commentators pour over the schedule like a sacred scroll, trying to glean where a team might have an advantage or disadvantage.

And then fans look at the slate and start trying to figure the wins and losses. It's a fun mental exercise, although trying to predict football games four months in advance is an effort in futility.

But I enjoy nothing more than efforts in futility, so here goes. I think the Chiefs will be 13-3 heading into what may be a meaningless Week 17 game against the Broncos in Denver. That would have the AFC West title wrapped up and a strong chance at being the No. 1 seed in the conference.

The three losses? Two are reasonable to expect — Week 2 at the Ravens and Dec. 16 against the Chargers in Los Angeles. The other? Oct. 17 at Washington.

It figures to be a fun ride for the next five months.

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