It’s not surprising to see the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl for the third time in the last five seasons. Having been in the last five AFC Championship games, they are quickly becoming the New England Patriots of the Belichick-Brady era. This time with Andy Reid as head coach and Patrick Mahomes at quarterback. For the Philadelphia Eagles it has been a quick turnaround since they fired head coach Doug Pederson after the 2020 season. It was only three seasons earlier that they won their first Super Bowl title, but the 2020 season was such a disaster that they needed to hit the restart button. Nick Sirianni is only in his second season as the head coach and already they are poised to win another Super Bowl with a stacked roster. Jalen Hurts had a MVP-esque season, but was a bit banged up down the stretch of the season missing two games, which happened to be losses. This is a game that has a steady supply of storylines and without further adieu lets get into it.
I had no idea that Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni was a wide receivers coach for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012. Coincidentally, going into the 2013 season that was the first year Andy Reid was the Chiefs new head coach. Sirianni wasn’t retained and he moved on to the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers and followed Frank Reich when he became the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts in 2018. Sirianni was the Colts offensive coordinator at that time before the Eagles hired him as their head coach. A lot wasn’t known about him at that time, but since his arrival the Eagles have become one of the best rushing teams in the league. It helps to have a plethora of running backs at your disposal. Having a versatile quarterback in Jalen Hurts doesn’t hurt either and during this season the offensive system that Sirianni has implemented has been a juggernaut that few teams have been able to contain. With that now balanced attack having acquired WR A.J. Brown via trade before the season, the defense has been fresh all year and accumulated a total of 70 sacks. Four players had at least 11 sacks. It should come as no surprise that the Eagles had a 13-1 record through the first 15 weeks of the season.
It appeared that the Chiefs had an up and down season at one point. After a Week 3 loss to the lowly Indianapolis Colts, the thought seemed to be that Kansas City was finally coming back down to earth and were at best an above average team. That didn’t happen. Even though they did lose two more games to the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals, they remained contenders winning every other game and clinching home field advantage in the playoffs. Head coach Andy Reid just never seems to run out of weapons. When the Chiefs traded WR Tyreek Hill in the offseason, most thought the offense would take a step back. That didn’t happen. A 7th-round pick in RB Isiah Pacheco and veteran RB Jerick McKinnon brought stability to an inconsistent running game, but also gave the Chiefs tremendous production in the passing game with their agility and route running out of the backfield. A mid-season trade to acquire former 1st-round WR Kadarious Toney from the New York Giants was highway robbery looking back at it. When he’s healthy he adds another speed dynamic to the offense. The defense has been prone to giving up the big play, but they do get after the quarterback with a total of 55 sacks during the regular season. Kind of like how their Super Bowl opponent has been playing this season. Oh and if you didn’t hear, Andy Reid used to be the head coach of the Eagles before his arrival in Kansas City.
Players to Watch
Kansas City doesn’t have a star-studded defense. And with this last off-seasons departures of Tyrann Mathieu and Charvarious Ward from their secondary, they did take a hit at times this season. However, with DL Chris Jones still playing at All-Pro level having 15.5 sacks during the season and continuing his disruptive play in the playoffs, they have faired just fine without Mathieu and Ward. Jones will need some added support from Frank Clark and rookie George Karlaftis who combined had 11 sacks for the Chiefs. LB Willie Gay and DB L’Jarius Sneed were a bit banged up during the playoffs, but are important pieces in their pass coverage and should be good to go for this game. LB Nick Bolton has quickly become the quarterback of this defense and always seems to be glued to the ball wherever it ends up. For the life of me I don’t understand how TE Travis Kelce remains so wide open, especially in the redzone. He’s had 21 catches, 176 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns in two playoff games this year. If he continues to be involved this much in the Super Bowl, it’s going to be a long day for the Eagles and an easy one for QB Patrick Mahomes. Speaking of Mahomes if he is not tested early and often on that sprained ankle of his then he will be hoisting another Super Bowl MVP trophy along with the Lombardi.
For the Eagles they boast an elite rushing attack that includes their quarterback Jalen Hurts. RBs Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell have all made important contributions during this run in Philadelphia. Every running back, including Hurts, has averaged at least 4 yards per carry during the season. It hasn’t just been their ability to run the ball, but their passing attack has been a marvel all year. WR A.J. Brown had 11 touchdowns and almost 1,500 yards receiving this season. WR DeVonta Smith had 95 receptions and almost 1,200 yards receiving. TE Dallas Goedert missed five games, but still had a productive year with 55 catches and 702 yards receiving. Look for Goedert to get a lot of looks with the focus being on Brown and Smith. As mentioned the Eagles have four players who recorded at least 11 sacks during the season. They are Haason Reddick (16), Javon Hargrave (11), Josh Sweat (11) and Brandon Graham (11). Yet, their depth is what makes this unit the class of the league this season. Fletcher Cox is still around and getting 7 sacks. Milton Williams had 4 and they brought in Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph during the season. Oh and they traded for Robert Quinn who has only played in 6 games and their first round pick Jordan Davis is apart of this group as well. The most underrated part of their defense is in their secondary. Trading for CB C.J. Gardner-Johnson in the offseason was genius as evidence by his team leading 6 interceptions while missing 5 games. Bringing in CB James Bradberry was another solid move to pair with CB Darius Slay as one of the best trios in the league. Marcus Epps and Avonte Maddox have been scrappy solid defenders for this unit. LB T.J. Edwards has taken a backseat to the rest of the defense, but his accomplishments haven’t gone unnoticed being the teams leading tackler.
Key of the Game
The objective is to score more points than your opponent and to keep your opponent from scoring more points than you. In Philadelphia’s case they have to keep Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes off the field as much as humanly possible. This is true for any great quarterback, but especially one who can lead multiple scoring drives in the blink of an eye. If this system that is in place is able to rush the ball without any push back, they will be in a good position to win this game. The same goes for their vaunted pass rush. If they can force Mahomes to scramble more than he’d like to on that sprained ankle, the Eagles will be in a good spot to win this game.
The Chiefs have a tough task in slowing down the Eagles running game. Even though Philadelphia has had the more impressive season they have been beaten three times during the regular season, granted two of those losses were without QB Jalen Hurts. If they disrupt Hurts enough to have him try to do something that results in a fumble or an errant throw that will help in keeping the Eagles defense on the field and tire them out. Forcing turnovers and moving DL Chris Jones all over the line like they’ve been doing all year might confuse the Eagles elite offensive line. Philly’s starting RT Lane Johnson has been dealing with a goin injury and the Chiefs could test him early and often. Also if Kansas City sees that TE Travis Kelce is open more than expected that will also bode well for a potential victory.
Who Will Win?
Ultimately what I want out of this game, (especially when it doesn’t involve my favorite team) is for it to not be a blowout. Or even a 13-3 borefest i.e, Super Bowl LIII between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams. This matchup has both number one seeds from the AFC and NFC duking it out to hoist the Lombardi trophy in Glendale, Arizona. Both teams have quarterbacks playing at a MVP level, with Mahomes winning the award a few days before game day. Both teams have head coaches that boast outstanding offensive schemes that could call for a high scoring affair. In the end, what really matters is that there are two brothers (Jason and Travis) that are playing against each other. Just kidding. I’m tired of it as well. When this game is all said and done, I believe that the Kansas City Chiefs will be hoisting their 3rd Lombardi trophy in franchise history. QB Patrick Mahomes will be named the MVP having thrown 3 touchdown passes and two of them going to WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling. 34-24 in favor of Kansas City.