October 4, 2023

Super Bowl 57 — Chiefs vs Eagles Preview


Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, right, and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts speak to the media during the NFL football Super Bowl 57 opening night, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, in Phoenix. The Kansas City Chiefs will play the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Good morning Philadelphia!

Its Super Bowl Sunday!

For the second time in five years, the Philadelphia Eagles are playing in the Super Bowl. Take a second to let that sink in.

Later on today, the Philadelphia Eagles will be playing in the Super Bowl. The Eagles will be facing the AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs, with a pretty familiar head coach in Andy Reid. The Chiefs defeated the Bengals in their last game 23-20 on a walk-off field goal to send them to the Super Bowl.

This will be by far the Eagles’ toughest test of the season, but it will be the Chiefs’ toughest as well.

Patrick Mahomes & The Chiefs Offense

The first player that everyone thinks of when they hear the Chiefs name is Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes, who won his 2nd MVP award on Thursday night, is widely regarded as the NFL’s best QB. In their win against the Bengals he threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns. He also scrambled for essentially the game winning play setting up their game winning field goal. He is though battling through a major injury. In the Chiefs first playoff game he suffered a high ankle sprain. While that has not proven to slow him down so far, it is obvious watching him that he is not as mobile as he was pre injury. If the Eagles want to slow him down they will need to rely on their outstanding pass rush to get home early and often.

In Mahomes’ Super Bowl loss against the Buccaneers the story of that game was the Bucs pass rush. Patrick had virtually no time to throw, and only ended up scoring 9 points. He finished that game 29/49 for 270 yards, 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. While Mahomes is spectacular, he has shown that when pressure gets to him he will turn the ball over. During the 2022 season he threw 12 interceptions including a game against Denver where he threw 3. In games this season where he has been sacked 2 or more times, he has averaged 1 interception in those games. Mahomes also has 6 fumbles on the season. The biggest key for the Eagles defense will be for the defensive line to create pressure, and create turnovers off that pressure.

Unlike previous seasons the Chiefs do not have great offensive weapons. But the one player who remains a constant is Travis Kelce. At this point Kelce has all but cemented his hall of fame case, and he could end up being the difference maker in this game. So far this post season he has 21 receptions for 176 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Eagles could deploy a unconventional plan to stop Kelce, and that could be to move James Bradberry inside to cover him. In the Chiefs game against the Giants last season the Giants had Braberry cover Kelce and he held him to just 4 catches for 27 yards. This would move Maddox to the outside which he has played before. We wont know how the Eagles will try and stop Kelce until the game gets underway, but it would be nice to see the All Pro Cornerback lined up over him.

While Bradberry had a great game against him last year, it is worth noting that the Eagles held Kelce to his season low in yards in their matchup last season at just 23. The Eagles ended up losing that matchup but their defense was successful against Kelce. Kelce is also playing through a back injury.

Chris Jones & the Chiefs Defense

The Eagles offense will be facing another Defensive Player of the Year finalist this week in Chris Jones. While he did not win the award, he had a amazing season. Jones has recorded 17.5 sacks so far this season from the defensive tackle position. While this position can generate sacks, having over 17 sacks from that position is outstanding. Like last game with the 49ers, one player has carried the line to great sack numbers. Only one other player on the Chiefs defensive line has 6 or more sacks and that is rookie George Karlaftis.

The last time an opposing defense’s best player was a defensive tackle, it was the Giants’ Dexter Lawernce. In that playoff game, the Eagles did a great job at shutting down Lawernce. While Jones is a better player, the Eagles are strong on the interior of the line and should have a good game plan to limit him.

The Chiefs will most likely be starting two rookies at Cornerback in Jaylen Watson and Trent Mcduffie. Even though the Chiefs won the game, the Bengals wide receivers had some susses against their secondary. Higgins and Chase combined for 12 receptions, 158 yards, and a touchdown. They will be getting L’Jarius Sneed back who likes to travel. He will most likely follow A.J. Brown all around the field which means Devonta Smith would be matched up against a rookie. Devonta should be able to take advantage of those matchups.

One spot where the Chiefs’ defense is the weakest is in the red zone. According to Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94.1 WIP, the Chiefs ranked 30th in red zone defense. The Eagles’ offense this season ranked 2nd in red zone offense. It will be really important for the Eagles to take advantage of every red zone opportunity they have. Another area they struggle with is third-down defense. According to Eliot, the Chiefs ranked 17th while the Eagles offense ranked 4th in the third down offense. In a game as big as this a lot of the time it can come down to converting on third downs and turning field goals into touchdowns. Based on the stats, the Eagles should be able to do both.

The Final Injury Report

While Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce are fighting through injuries, neither was listed on the Chiefs’ final injury report. They are both good to go. The Chiefs had some other players pop up on their injury reports such as Kadarius Toney, Juju Smith-Schuster, and Isiah Pacheco but they are all good to go as well.

One player who will not be playing for the Chiefs in the Super Bowl is Wide Receiver, Mecole Hardman. Hardman was placed on IR after suffering a Pelvis injury in the AFC Championship game. In a corresponding move, they activated Running Back Clyde Edwards-Helaire off IR and he will be available for the game. Edwards-Helaire has lost his job to rookie Isiah Pacheco but has played in big games his whole career in both the NFL and college.

For the first time, this postseason the Eagles had someone on their final injury report. Punt returner Britain Covey is listed as Questionable with a hamstring injury. It is assumed that Covey tweaked it in practice this week. The Eagles activated Greg Ward for the game as some insurance in case Covey can not go. Devonta Smith has also returned a few punts this season and in college. In the biggest game of his life, Covey is expected to do everything to give it a go, but it is important the Eagles activated a backup plan.

Once again the Eagles will have 22 out of 22 opening-day starters ready to go in this game. Last week Cornerback Avonte Maddox was seen back in a walking boot but it turned out to just be precautionary. The bye week will most certainly help the Eagles as it will give noticeable players like Jalen Hurts and Lane Johnson some more time to rest. But in the biggest game of their lives, all the starters will be good to go.

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