An Early Look at Super Bowl LVII
The two teams have had different paths to get to Super Bowl LVII. For one, the Eagles have trampled their competition week in and out since the season began. When Jalen Hurts starts for Philadelphia, they own a dominant record of 16-1. They continued their amazing play against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game, stymying the Super Bowl hopes for Kyle Shanahan‘s squad with a 31-7 victory. What made it even scarier is that none of their superstar players put up notable numbers on the stat sheet.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs had to sweat it out until the final seconds of Sunday night’s contest. Kicker Harrison Butker drilled a 45-yard game-winning field goal to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20. After losing their previous three matchups against the Bengals, Patrick Mahomes’ offense was able to lead a game-winning drive despite the fact that he is playing with a high-ankle sprain.
But just how impressive were the Chiefs in this win? Would they even be in this position if not for the unnecessary roughness call on Joseph Ossai?
The fact is that they were not impressive at all. Although the former MVP-winning quarterback was clearly limited, their flaws were put on display. Their run game was practically nonexistent, leaving Mahomes in countless third and long situations. Philadelphia has the number one passing defense in the NFL, so this is not something that would fare well for the Chiefs.
The Eagles defense is not known for guarding the run too well, but the mediocre Chiefs offensive line will have a hard time containing interior linemen Javon Hargrave and Fletcher Cox in the trenches.
Philly’s Defense is Legit
A more concerning aspect of the game for Kansas City is the Eagles pass rush. Brandon Graham, Haason Reddick, and Josh Sweat all recorded double-digit sack numbers for the Eagles in 2022. Reddick in particular tormented the 49ers linemen, sacking Brock Purdy and forcing a fumble on their opening drive of the game. Purdy was subsequently subbed out of the game due to a right UCL injury.
The Eagles rushed the passer better than any other team in the NFL, recording 70 sacks over the course of the season. This number was tied for 3rd all-time in NFL history, which goes to show just how good this Eagles defense is. Although the Chiefs offensive line has improved since the beatdown they took against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020, will Patrick Mahomes be running for his life every play again? It should be a real concern for Chiefs fans.
Although AJ Brown has just seven receptions for 50 yards in the Eagles first two playoff games, everyone is aware of what he is capable of. The 25-year-old wide receiver recorded 1,498 receiving yards in 2022. He could become even more of a problem for Kansas City if top cornerback L’Jarius Sneed is unable to suit up. He exited Sunday’s contest in the first quarter due to a concussion.
Potentially Important Injuries
Sneed is not only the member of the Chiefs who got injured versus the Bengals. Wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kadarius Toney, and Mecole Hardman left the game due to injuries. Even inside linebacker, Willie Gay Jr. was forced out of the game.
The good news for the Chiefs is that they have two weeks until Super Bowl LVII is played, meaning these injured players have plenty of time to recover. These rest days are more important for Mahomes than anyone else, as his ankle should be in much better condition. Even though the Eagles have a far better roster than the Chiefs on paper, there is no denying that Mahomes at 100% can make magic happen.
The bottom line is that the Chiefs offense is no longer the unstoppable force it once was. For them to have a chance, Mahomes has to have one of the best games of his career. The Eagles have absolutely no flaws — they have a terrific run game and receivers, the best offensive line in the league, the best defense against the pass, and one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the NFL.
The Chiefs will put up a fight, but their middling defense and lack of offensive weapons (outside of Travis Kelce) will leave them in dire need of some playmaking. It is the Eagles year to win yet another Super Bowl.
Kansas City Chiefs: 20
Philadelphia Eagles: 31