The Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs are officially headed to Super Bowl LVII, which kicks off on Sunday, Feb. 12 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Eagles rolled past the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, while the Chiefs beat the Cincinnati Bengals to emerge out of the AFC.
We still have two full weeks until the first play of the Super Bowl is run, but we’re taking an early look at the matchup. Brooke Pryor sets it up with what to know, and our NFL Nation reporters — Tim McManus and Adam Teicher — look closer at each team. Seth Walder crunches the numbers to give you some key stats to know, Matt Bowen dives into the game plan with a key matchup and Eric Moody pulls out an X factor. Dan Graziano answers big questions surrounding the final game of the season, and Jason Reid explores the quarterback matchup. And finally, we have early gut-reaction predictions from our experts. Let’s dive in.
Note: Game lines are via Caesars Sportsbook. Predictions are from ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI).
Super Bowl LVII: Chiefs vs. Eagles
When: Sunday, Feb. 12, 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox
Where: State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
Opening line: Pick ’em (O/U 49.5)
It’s Donna Kelce’s dream — or nightmare. With the top-seeded Eagles and Chiefs heading to Arizona, Philadelphia center Jason Kelce and Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce will become the first brothers to play against each other in the Super Bowl, according to ESPN Stats and Information. Each are integral in their team reaching this point, the elder Kelce as the one of quarterback Jalen Hurts’ protectors for the Eagles, and the younger brother as Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ most consistent and favorite target (21 catches, three touchdowns in the 2022 postseason).
While the Chiefs are returning to the Super Bowl after a one-year absence, the Eagles are playing in their first since beating the Patriots in 2017. And this year’s game will feature the youngest combined age between starting quarterbacks in Super Bowl history. Both signal-callers are dealing with injuries and will benefit from the two-week layoff before the final game. Mahomes, who threw two touchdowns in the AFC Championship Game win against the Bengals, is nursing a high ankle sprain sustained in the divisional round, while Hurts is still shaking off the rust from a late-regular season shoulder injury. — Pryor
Kansas City Chiefs
Regular season: 14-3 | AFC seed: No. 1
Reason for hope: The Chiefs always feel they have a chance against good competition with Mahomes at quarterback. He raised his postseason record to 10-3 with the victory over the Bengals. The Chiefs led the league in scoring (28.2 points per game) and yards per play (6.4) in the regular season, so they’re confident they can get the job done against any defensive opponent. And on defense, the Chiefs are capable of putting pressure on the opposing quarterback with defensive tackle Chris Jones leading the way. Their 55 sacks ranked second to the Eagles.
Reason for concern: They were able to overcome some deficiencies in the regular season and so far in the playoffs, but can they keep that up against the Eagles? Opposing quarterbacks had a 54.5 QBR in the regular season (third-worst in the NFL), and the Chiefs were pushovers defensively in the red zone this season. They allowed a touchdown on 67.3% of opponent trips inside the 20-yard line in the regular season (31st), and they were the only team among the bottom six to make the playoffs. And Philly ranked third on offense there, finding the end zone on 67.8% of red-zone trips. — Teicher
Regular season: 14-3 | NFC seed: No. 1
Reason for hope: The Eagles have arguably the best roster top to bottom in the NFL, led by Hurts. It’s hard to find a weakness. Top-end offensive line? Check. Offensive playmakers? Check. Quality players at all three levels of the defense? Check. The pass rush stands out maybe above all else, as the Eagles piled up 70 sacks during the regular season — third most in NFL history.
Reason for concern: The Eagles led the league in takeaways for much of the season but tailed off down the stretch. Entering the NFC Championship, they had gone seven straight games without generating multiple turnovers, though they recovered three fumbles against the 49ers. The most complete offense they’ve faced to date is the Dak Prescott-led Cowboys on Christmas Eve, and Prescott tossed three touchdown passes and threw for 347 yards in a 40-34 Philly loss, showing it’s at least possible to pierce what has generally been a very stingy defense. — McManus
Stats to know
Jones led all defensive tackles in pass rush win rate when playing the position at 21.5%. But the wild part? He did that despite being double-teamed at a league-high 69.2% rate as a defensive tackle. That’s an Aaron Donald-esque combination of numbers and a reminder that while the Chiefs are the in the Super Bowl because of their offense, they have an absolute superstar on defense in Jones. He finished the regular season with 15.5 sacks (fourth in the NFL) and added two more in the AFC Championship Game win.
The Eagles’ 52% pass rush win rate in the regular season was best of all NFL teams. Heck, they were using Brandon Graham as a rotational pass-rusher. And according to our Receiver Tracking Metrics, no secondary allowed opponents to get open less than the Eagles, led by their elite cornerback pairing of Darius Slay and James Bradberry. Bradberry actually allowed the least yards per coverage snap of any outside corner in the regular season (0.7), per NFL Next Gen Stats. All of this is to say that when passing against the Eagles, the Chiefs will have to navigate the best pass rush and defensive backfield in the entire league. — Walder
Inside the matchup
Haason Reddick, OLB, Eagles vs. Andrew Wylie, OT, Chiefs
Wylie’s ability to re-direct and match Reddick will be key here. The Chiefs’ offensive tackle can be tested on the edges as space expands, and Reddick has the short-area speed and lower-body agility to create positive rush angles to Burrow. — Bowen
X factor: DeVonta Smith, WR, Eagles
There is a perception that Smith is the Eagles’ clear No. 2 receiver, with A.J. Brown operating as the team’s No. 1 option. But is that really the case? Their numbers are nearly identical over the second half of the season in many categories. Over the past nine games, Brown has averaged 8.8 targets and 84.6 receiving yards, while Smith has averaged 8.8 targets and 81.6 receiving yards per game. Smith could surpass expectations in the Super Bowl because this dynamic duo plays so well together. The Chiefs’ defense allowed an 82.5 QBR to opponent quarterbacks when they targeted wide receivers this season, 27th in the NFL. — Moody
Answering big questions
Will the Chiefs be healthy enough to beat the Eagles?
Mahomes having two more weeks to rest that ankle will be key. Massive kudos to him for finding a way to win the AFC Championship Game on one leg, but the Chiefs will be a lot better off if he’s at full strength in two weeks. Meanwhile, the Chiefs saw wide receivers Kadarius Toney, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman all leave Sunday’s game with injuries, as well as cornerback L’Jarius Sneed and linebacker Willie Gay.
A full-strength Chiefs team still may not be enough to beat the Eagles, but if they show up in Phoenix still this banged-up, they’re going to need Mahomes to be at an all-time miracle-worker level if he’s going to win a second Super Bowl title.
Will the Eagles’ pass rush be too much for the Chiefs?
Philadelphia had three sacks in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, and that was a bit of an off day for them. This unit racked up 70 sacks in the regular season and five in the divisional-round victory over the Giants, and they averaged 4.1 per game this season. Reddick was perhaps the highest-impact signing of the offseason, and he finished second in the league with 16 sacks in the regular season and has already added 3.5 more in two postseason games. As a team, the Eagles ranked first in the league in the regular season in pass-rush wins and in pass rush win rate, so even when they aren’t bringing the quarterback to the ground, they’re putting pressure on him.
With two more weeks to rest his sprained right ankle, Mahomes should be in better position to escape the rush than he was Sunday against Cincinnati. Kansas City’s offensive line has been the best in the league this year at protecting its quarterback — the Chiefs’ regular-season pass block win rate of 74.7% was the best in the NFL by a wide margin — and will need to be at its best against the Eagles’ rush, especially if Mahomes’ ankle is still hurting. — Graziano
Patrick Mahomes vs. Jalen Hurts
Mahomes already has a Super Bowl title, a Super Bowl MVP award and an MVP award, and the Chiefs have hosted the AFC Championship Game in each of his five seasons as their starter. He’s now expected to win MVP again after leading the NFL in passing yards (5,250), touchdown passes (41) and Total QBR (77.5) this season.
Mahomes will be vying to become the ninth QB to have multiple Super Bowl championships in a matchup with Hurts, who has emerged as the leader of the NFC’s best team in only his second full season as a starter, showing impressive development when throwing from the pocket (completed 66.5% of his throws for 3,701 yards and 22 TD passes). Hurts has continued to be a force in the Eagles’ running game, too, enabling head coach Nick Sirianni to exploit many matchups against opponents. He is the third QB to reach the Super Bowl after being his team’s outright leader in rushing TDs during the season (13). — Reid
Matt Bowen, NFL analyst: Eagles. It’s all about the versatility within the Philadelphia offense, with a defensive front that can create pressure and disrupt the pocket against Mahomes.
Mike Clay, fantasy writer: Eagles. They’re absolutely stacked (and healthy) on both sides of the ball. A second Lombardi Trophy is headed to Philly.
Dan Graziano, NFL national reporter: Chiefs. Having watched Mahomes finally beat Joe Burrow, I’m not picking against him in his spot. Reid will beat his old team to burnish his Hall of Fame legacy with a second Super Bowl title.
Matt Miller, NFL draft analyst: Chiefs. They have two weeks to get healthy, and while the Eagles’ pass rush will be a problem for the Kansas City offensive line, we’ve seen how much experience matters in the postseason.
Eric Moody, fantasy/betting writer: Eagles. The Chiefs lack their normal abundance of offensive playmakers, and Mahomes and Travis Kelce won’t be 100%, and this Philadelphia team is dominant, especially when operating at full capacity.
Sal Paolantonio, NFL reporter: Eagles. Reddick has emerged as a pass-rushing sensation, capable of setting the tone early and closing it out late. He’s Justin Verlander and Mariano Rivera combined.
Mike Tannenbaum, NFL analyst: Eagles. There’s too much of a pass-rush advantage against an average line, and I don’t know that Mahomes will be 100% by kickoff.
Seth Walder, analytics writer: Eagles. The Chiefs may have the NFL’s best quarterback, but the Eagles have the best roster from 1 to 53.
Source: Read Full Article