After five gruelling months, there are only two teams left standing. The No. 1 seed from both the AFC and the NFC will match up in what has all the makings of an epic. Patrick Mahomes’ legacy as an all-time great is more or less already secure, with Kansas City’s superstar winning his second MVP award over the weekend. A second ring to pair with his trophy and ending the MVP winner curse would fit with his current career trajectory, however, the Eagles have an ascending star of their own under center. Jalen Hurts has a pedigree of winning, becoming the first true Alabama freshman to start at quarterback in 32 years, featuring regularly in the Playoff before being drafted by Philadelphia. A contest between these two quarterbacks should help deliver us a great Super Bowl LVII. Should.
If you like what you read be sure to check out more SportsbyFry articles by hitting this link. Make sure you keep up to date with the latest NFL articles and follow my fan pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to never miss a minute of the action!
Click here to subscribe on iTunes
(Please leave a rating and review to help me move up the charts)
Chiefs offence vs. Eagles defence
The Philadelphia Eagles won’t be out to stop Patrick Mahomes – it’s a futile exercise. They can however try and quell his influence, with a high ankle sprain expected to hamper the now two-time MVP winner. Cincinnati probably had similar hopes of slowing down Mahomes, only for him to torch them in the conference championship for 326 yards and two touchdowns by making crucial plays late in the game. Thanks to his individual brilliance, the Chiefs will now make their 3rd Super Bowl appearance in four years.
A few days off will help Mahomes recover, although for the Eagles to really slow down the best offence in football, they’re going to need to find a way to shut down Travis Kelce. Mahomes will remain the main talking point for the rest of the week but Kansas City’s tight end is the real danger man. Finishing 8th for receiving yards and 2nd for touchdowns in the regular season, Kelce has made his way to the end zone in each of his last five postseason games – with a whopping 25 targets in two playoff games this year.
Even if Mahomes is on one leg, Travis Kelce is capable of catching a dozen balls for 100+ yards and a score or two, which would put the Chiefs in a good position to take out Super Bowl LVII. Philadelphia is equipped well enough to make life difficult for Kansas City’s offensive stars though. In 2022, the Eagles recorded 70 sacks (3rd most ever) with four players recording 10 or more. No other team had more than two players in double-digits, and no other team had Haason Reddick at linebacker either. The former Cardinal/Panther has been a wrecking ball for Philly, serving as an integral part of what a lot of pundits believe is the best defence in the NFL.
For Reddick and Co to succeed against the Chiefs, it isn’t as simple as ‘sack Patrick Mahomes’. Kansas City’s O-line only allowed 26 sacks (3rd fewest) through the regular season and we’ve seen before how Mahomes carves up teams that regularly choose to blitz. Throwing a league-best 16 TD’s this season against the blitz, the Eagles are going to have to get creative with how they pressure the QB if they want to keep Kansas City from scoring at will. A stroke of good luck could come their way with KC receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Kadarius Toney in a race against the clock to prove they’re at full fitness by Sunday.
The Chiefs will already be without one of Mahomes’ weapons Mecole Hardman after he was placed on the injured reserve list at the start of the week. Even if JuJu and Toney are able to go, Philly’s secondary is full of studs that can halt their production, including interception leader C.J. Garnder Johnson, experienced corner Darius Slay and All-Pro second-teamer James Bradberry. They’ll be wary of form WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling who stepped up as his teammates dropped like flies – chalking up 116 yards and a TD vs. Cincinnati. Running back Isiah Pacheco has proved that he can be another pass-catching option out of the backfield, with the Chiefs’ running game posing an inferior threat to Philadelphia.
Image from kcur.org
With their primary focus on slowing down the passing attack, the Eagles should be able to get some pressure on Mahomes and his dodgy ankle, and there’s a world where they can suffocate KC’s offence and keep them from making regular red zone trips. You’d expect Philadelphia to target RT Andrew Wylie with the 5th year pro giving up 8.0 sacks on the season already. Should he and the Chiefs’ offensive line be able to keep Mahomes clean, then they’ll likely move the ball enough to score 4 or 5 times. However, the Eagles are up for the fight.
Eagles offence vs. Chiefs defence
All eyes are focused on Philadelphia’s defence and Kansas City’s offence, but a dominant performance on the other side of the ball for either team would dramatically shift the odds in their favour. The Eagles have hardly been an afterthought on offence this year, with Jalen Hurts taking a leap that saw him finish as the runner-up for the MVP award. He became the first QB in NFL history to have 10+ rushing TDs in consecutive seasons, forming one dimension of a commanding rushing attack.
His lead tailback teammate Miles Sanders enjoyed the best production of his NFL tenure in 2022, rushing for 1,269 yards and 11 scores. Their dominant ground game has been the backbone of their offensive success, with the Hurts/Sanders combo allowing the Eagles to utilise play-action and read-option plays to mix up their looks on offence and to puzzle opposing defences. Their passing attack is where the questions will be asked, with a shoulder injury still lingering for Jalen Hurts as he gears up for the biggest game of his career.
Seeing Jalen Hurts transform himself from one of the least accurate QBs in the NFL to a precise passer has been a sight to behold. Adding A.J. Brown in the offseason has certainly made life easier, but the ongoing development of their quarterback is one of the main reasons why Philly are still standing. Hurts’ dual-threat ability will force the Chiefs to keep their head on a swivel for the entire game, and similarly to Philadelphia’s defensive unit, there is one colossus on the Kansas City defence that can disrupt the other team’s quarterback. All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones recorded a pair of sacks in the Chiefs’ AFC title game, making plays all year to disrupt the flow of the opposing offences.
Joining forces with Frank Clark and Carlos Dunlap on the interior gives the Chiefs a competent D-line that can put pressure on Hurts in a hurry. However, the Eagles are more than capable of keeping their QB upright, with center Jason Kelce the linchpin on a legitimately awesome offensive line. Four-time Pro Bowler Lane Johnson isn’t at full health and was limited at practice throughout the week, but he and his fellow man mountains are primed to adequately protect Hurts. The offensive line allowing their lead guy time to dissect the Chiefs’ D with either his arm or legs will obviously be important.
Two stellar pass catchers in the aforementioned A.J. Brown and Hurts’ former college teammate DeVonta Smith, both of whom amassed over 1,000 receiving yards this year, will be the primary targets for Philly. The health of Kansas City cornerback L’Jarius Sneed could go a long way to determining how open they get, although, we’ve seen Chiefs rookie Jaylen Watson emerge with an interception in each playoff game thus far. Watson and his draft peer Joshua Williams teamed up to both pick Joe Burrow off in the AFC title game, and KC’s secondary will need to stay confident against the Eagles’ receiving core if they want to claim victory in Super Bowl LVII.
Image from bleedinggreennation.com
Dallas Goedert is another capable receiving threat the Chiefs need to worry about, with Philly’s TE1 coming close to producing his highest number of receptions in a season – despite playing only 12 games. If Kansas City can keep up with the offensive talent the Eagles have at their disposal and limit their impact, then they would back themselves to put enough points on the board to secure victory. However, it’s not the passing attack the Chiefs need to fear, with Andy Reid’s men prioritising their defence against the ground game. Despite giving up the 8th fewest rushing yards during the regular season, this Eagles team poses a much greater threat and if Philadelphia can get on top and break off a few big runs, they should be in a good position to win their first Super Bowl since 2017.
Useless SportsbyFry stats
2 – Kelce brothers. Kansas City’s Travis and Philadelphia’s Jason will become the first brothers to play each other in a Super Bowl – both vying for their second ring.
4 – Andy Reid is appearing in his 4th Super Bowl and his 3rd as the Chiefs’ head coach. Back in 2004, he made the last dance for the first time, ironically, as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s 3-0 against his old team since he left, just saying.
53 – Since Philly drafted Jalen Hurts 53rd overall there have been understandable questions about his status as a franchise quarterback. In two full seasons as the Eagles’ starter, he has put those doubts to bed averaging 263.5 passing yards and over 50 rushing yards a game.
78 – In 2022, the Chiefs ran for 2,156 yards on the ground which saw them rank in the middle of the road for rushing attacks. Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders themselves ran for 2,234 – 78 more yards than Kansas City’s entire team.
300.1 – In 13 career postseason matches, Patrick Mahomes averages 300.1 passing yards, the 3rd highest playoff AVG ever.
546 – Including the postseason, both Philadelphia and Kansas City have scored exactly 546 points on the season. Weird.
2015 – It’s been eight years since Arizona hosted Super Bowl XLIX, with Tom Brady winning his 3rd title in astonishing fashion. Malcolm Butler hauled in a game-winning interception on the 1-yard line, giving New England a 28-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks. That game was also a battle between the No. 1 seed from both conferences.
Image from uk.finance.yahoo.com
Prediction – Kansas City Chiefs 26, Philadelphia Eagles 24
Like most, I’m expecting the Eagles and Chiefs to deliver an all-time classic. You don’t often get a battle between the two best squads in the last game of the season, so let’s hope this contest can live up to the hype. While a large bulk of the Chiefs roster knows what it’s like to play in a Super Bowl, Philly has some experience on their side as well. There are still eight players on the roster from their championship-winning team, including five members of their offensive or defensive line.
How both lines perform will decide how this game unfolds, with priority No. 1 for Kansas City being to keep Mahomes standing so he can play out the game at the peak of his powers. Philly has a better team from top to bottom and betting on the result is essentially the same as flipping a coin. For those who want to punt, I do expect Jalen Hurts to find his way into the endzone having recorded a rushing TD in both playoff games with 20 total attempts. If he can convert long drives into touchdowns and the Eagles can get after Mahomes, this could be a quick kill. With that being said, things can go pear-shaped in the Super Bowl and while Philadelphia deservedly goes in as the favourites, I’m going to side with the Chiefs. Betting on a one-legged Patrick Mahomes seems risky, but as long as that guy’s on the field, Kansas City is going to win more times than not.
Banner from touchdownwire.usatoday.com