Eagles and Chiefs set to duel in the desert in Super Bowl LVII

Published 1:32 pm Wednesday, February 1, 2023

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Well, the end of the road is here. Two teams are left and will meet on America’s biggest stage on February 12 in Glendale Arizona. Players have the opportunity to go from upcoming stars to folk heroes who will go down in history and be loved by fans forever. The AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs will take on the NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles and the storylines, talent and matchups make this one of the most anticipated Super Bowls in recent memory.

As a Philadelphia Eagles fan, I have to start by outlining the NFC Champions. After a 2021 season that saw quarterback Jalen Hurts show some promise and take a rebuilding Eagles team to a winning record and a playoff berth in his first year as a starter alongside first year head coach Nick Sirianni, the organization decided to build upon the pieces they had.

During the offseason, general manager Howie Roseman put all of his chips in on Sirianni and Hurts and surrounded them with loads of talent. On draft night, the Eagles acquired Pro Bowl wide receiver AJ Brown who proceeded to have the best season in franchise history by a wide receiver, notching over 1500 yards, 11 touchdowns and 95 receptions. Brown alongside the other weapons like Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, running backs Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell all anchored by one of the best offensive lines in football, the Eagles lit up the scoreboard in 2022.

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The Eagles put up over 6,600 yards, 59 touchdowns with only eight turnovers in 19 games. Quarterback Jalen Hurts, just 24 years old, took a massive step in his development and became an MVP candidate in 2022. Hurts threw for 2,700 yards and 22 touchdowns, while also rushing for 760 yards and 13 more touchdowns on the ground. Since his unique college journey from being the starter at Alabama, leading the Crimson Tide to a National Championship appearance in 2017 and then getting benched and transferring to Oklahoma where he then led the Sooners to a College Football Playoff appearance, Hurts has consistently been in the national spotlight and has also consistently been doubted. This season Hurts showed that he can not only be an NFL franchise quarterback, but has a chase to be among the NFL’s best.

Hurts summed up his journey best in his postgame press conference after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game to clinch a spot in the Super Bowl, while still maintaining his calm and stoic demeanor he carries with him wherever he goes. As a reporter asked him if he has been surprised by the success he has seen early in his career, Hurts gave a response for the ages.

“It’s a big surprise to many,” said Hurts. “My favorite verse when I went through a lot of stuff in college and it kind of stuck with me was John 13:7 which says ‘you may not know now but later you will understand.’ Hopefully people understand.”

Outside of Hurts and the offense, the Eagles defense is just as elite. General manager Howie Roseman also put an emphasis on anchoring the defense in the offseason and it started with signing free agent edge rusher and Philadelphia native, Hasson Reddick. In 2022, Reddick was named All-Pro and a finalist for defensive player of the year by notching 16 sacks, five forced fumbles and 49 total tackles. Reddick single-handedly took over the NFC Championship game against the 49ers in the first quarter when he came off the edge and strip-sacked 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, knocking him out of the game. Reddick finished the day with two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery as he sent his hometown team to the Super Bowl.

The defense is strong in every unit from the defensive line of Reddick, Javon Hargrave, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox and Jordan Davis to the secondary of Darius Slay, James Bradberry, CJ Gardner-Johnson and Avonte Maddox to the underrated linebacking core of TJ Edwards and Kyzir White, the Eagles defense is quite possible the second best defense in the league outside of the San Francisco 49ers.

It seemed that after the 8-0 start, the Eagles were on a crash course to win the NFC and they did just that as they finished with a 14-3 record, winning the NFC East, clinching a number one playoff seed and then proceeding to dominate the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers to advance to their first Super Bowl since 2018.

Meeting the Eagles in Glendale will be the equally talented Kansas City Chiefs who have been among the league’s best for the past five seasons. MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes is undisputedly the best quarterback in the NFL and could quite possibly become one of the greatest to ever do it at the end of his career.

After losing one of the best receivers in the NFL in Tyreek Hill during the offseason, many thought Mahomes would regress and wouldn’t be the same without a deep threat like Hill. 2022 saw Mahomes pass for 5,200 yards and 41 touchdowns, leading the Chiefs to a 14-3 record and their third AFC Championship since 2019.

The Chiefs are still loaded with talent on offense, including the best tight end in the NFL in Travis Kelce who put up 1,300 yards on 110 catches and 12 touchdowns in 2022 and proves to be one of the most difficult playmakers to guard in the NFL. Running backs Isaiah Pacheco, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Justin Watson are also integral parts to their offensive success.

Defensively, the Chiefs are anchored by one of the best defensive tackles in football in Chris Jones who recorded 15.5 sacks in 2022 and linebacker Frank Clark who notched 39 total tackles in 2022. Point blank, the Kansas City Chiefs are the benchmark for success in today’s NFL. The combination of great coaching led by Andy Reid, the best quarterback in the NFL in Patrick Mahomes and the culture they have built, the Chiefs are a dynastic organization.

Since 2018, the Kansas City Chiefs have a 65-17 record, have won the AFC West five times in a row, have appeared in the AFC Championship for five consecutive seasons, have won three AFC Championships and a Super Bowl in 2019.

This game could go either way. The talent on both sides of the ball for both teams is endless and there is no doubt that in 2022 these are the two best teams in the NFL.

How can the Eagles win? It’s simple, just continue to do what they have done all season long. Defensively, they need their defensive line to have a day and wreak havoc against Patrick Mahomes and it starts with Hasson Reddick. We saw last week how the Eagles defensive line can take over a game and they did that against a 49ers offensive line who is considered among the league’s best. Apply pressure and make Mahomes have to use his legs. Offensively, the Eagles must protect the football and continue to mix in a heavy dose of running the ball with the run pass option with Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders and also utilize their playmakers of AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith.

The Chiefs cannot let the Eagles get out to an early lead. In both playoff games and throughout the season, the Eagles would jump on opponents early and put them in three to four score deficits after one half. I really don’t see that happening to this Chiefs team but it is definitely a point of emphasis.

How can the Chiefs win? Keep Patrick Mahomes healthy and get the ball to Travis Kelce. Mahomes has been dealing with an ankle injury since the Divisional Round of the playoffs and it is extremely visible in the way he walks and runs. Mahomes has now two weeks essentially to rest and get treatment on the ankle before Feb. 12. If Mahomes is even close to 100 percent going into the matchup, the Chiefs have a great chance of hoisting their second Lombardi Trophy since 2019.

I really think the Philadelphia Eagles will come out of Super Bowl 57 as winners and will be partying on Broad Street for the second time in six years. However, it won’t be easy. It will take every last second but in the end I think the Eagles hang on to a 31-28 victory.