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No exaggeration; this has the potential to be the greatest Super Bowl of all time. From the Kelce brothers making NFL history by being the first pair of siblings to meet in a Super Bowl to Andy Reid looking for vengeance against the team that fired him ten years ago, and both of these teams averaging an outstanding 28.7 points per game, we are in for a treat come February 12. From top to bottom, the Eagles have played great all year. Philadelphia won 16 of 17 games started by Jalen Hurts, only five of those decided by seven points or fewer. Howie Roseman took a team that looked incompetent just a few years ago and plugged in each missing piece perfectly. For a defense that finished 31st in sack rate in 2021, he signed Haason Reddick. The Eagles then set a franchise sack record. To help an offense that needed explosiveness, he traded for A.J. Brown, who went on to set the franchise record for receiving yards. To repair a broken secondary, he signed James Bradberry and traded for CJ Gardner-Johnson. The Eagles then went on to hold teams to 171.0 passing yards a game (#1 in the NFL). Philadelphia has had no problem in the playoffs so far, winning their games against the Giants and 49ers by a combined score of 69-14, but how do they match up against the Chiefs?
Well, offensively, the Eagles should be just fine. Kansas City is a better team against the run than they are against the pass; however, this Eagles team is one of the best running teams in football history, and they do it behind an elite offensive line. Last Sunday, the Eagles scored four rushing touchdowns against the 49ers, which gives them 39 for the season. Not only is that an NFL record, but it breaks a mark that had stood since 1924 when the Frankford Yellow Jackets ran for 38, and whenever you’re breaking records that have stood for a century, you’re doing something right. Philadelphia might not run over Kansas City as effectively as they did against the Giants, but they will get their yards on the ground. While Jalen Hurts missed a few throws here and there against the 49ers, his shoulder looks fine, and it will only get better with an extra week’s worth of rest. Considering Jalen Hurts is also a threat with his legs, moving the ball downfield won’t be an issue. Kansas City’s secondary is far from lockdown, and while Chris Jones (two sacks last weekend) and Frank Clark (1.5 sacks last weekend) can put pressure on an opposing quarterback, it’s not going to be easy to sack a guy as mobile as Hurts playing behind the Eagles’ offensive line.
Speaking of Philadelphia’s offensive line, as we’ve seen the past few weeks, having Lane Johnson active is a real difference-maker for the Eagles. Since the start of the 2016 season (including playoffs), the Eagles are 61-29-1 with Johnson in the lineup and 10-22 without him. The Chiefs have allowed a poor 221.0 yards per game through the air this season (#19 in the NFL), and let’s be honest, if Joe Burrow hadn’t lost most of his starting protection before last weekend, the Bengals would have advanced to their second straight Super Bowl. The Eagles averaged 230.2 passing yards a game this year, which is incredible, considering they threw the ball less than 28 other teams in the NFL. How did they do it? The Eagles were second in the league this season in big-passing plays (defined as passes of 25 yards or more). The duo of AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith is a lot to handle for any defense, let alone a Kansas City secondary that struggled to contain opposing receivers all season.
While it’s true that the Chiefs led the NFL in yards per game this year (407.9), they are riddled with injuries and their receiving corps and have yet to face a defense like Philadelphia’s. Want to know why? Because they don’t just have a good defense, they have a historical one. The Eagles defense led the NFL in sacks this season by 15, the most significant margin since the league officially began tracking team sacks in 1963. This is a defense that’s gone 9-1 against winning teams this season, which is currently tied for the best mark in NFL history. In case you’re not a doctor, a high-ankle sprain usually constitutes a 4-6 week recovery period, and while Patrick Mahomes played great against Cincinnati, the Eagles are a different animal. The Eagles have FOUR guys (Haason Reddick, Javon Hargrave, Brandon Graham, and Josh Sweat) with over ten sacks on the season. We are all well aware that Patrick Mahomes is possibly the best quarterback in the league right now, but he hasn’t faced this kind of pressure…in his entire career.
Playing a guy on a high-ankle sprain against this Philadelphia defensive line is like throwing steak to wolves, and it doesn’t make Mahomes’ life easier knowing his receiving core is injured. Kadarius Toney left the AFC Championship with an ankle injury in the first half, and they lost a couple more wideouts in the second half. Mecole Hardman is questionable to return for the Super Bowl after aggravating the pelvis injury that’s kept him out since Week Nine, and JuJu Smith-Schuster is questionable due to a knee injury. They will face Darius Slay and James Bradberry, even if these guys play. Unless Kansas City’s medical staff has some sort of magic anecdote to heal an NFL player who’s been getting hit for the last five months, I like the Eagles’ chances of keeping the Chiefs at bay.
The Eagles are the fifth team to win the Divisional Playoffs and Conference Championship by at least 21 points. Each of the previous four teams won the Super Bowl. This is the most well-rounded team that the franchise has ever put together, and if any team could defeat Patrick Mahomes, it would be them. Vegas likes the Eagles -1.5, and they will win by a touchdown. Want a chance to put some money in your pocket for a long weekend? Fly with the Birds and get up to $1,111 in bonus bets!