Key matchups for Super Bowl LVII
Published 10:07 am Friday, February 10, 2023
Super Bowl weekend is finally here and although the excitement, anticipation and pageantry is unlike any other, it is somewhat bittersweet knowing that football season is coming to a close until next August. The Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles are finally set to face off in the 57 edition of the Super Bowl and fans could quite possibly be in for a battle.
After a two-week break, constant media sessions, the back and forth between who’s going to win and the endless number of prop bets, game time is finally here. Rather than go through each team’s journey to Arizona, I’m going to cover the storylines and specific players to watch who are set to have big performances and have the chance to etch their names in history.
Let’s start with the coaching matchup. Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is one of the most respected, accomplished and well-known coaches in the football world. Finishing up his 23 season as an NFL head coach, Reid is known for his savvy play calling and has coached some legendary offenses throughout his time. Reid is set to make his fourth Super Bowl appearance, with one Lombardi Trophy to his name coming in 2019 as the Kansas City Chiefs executed a fourth quarter comeback to defeat the San Francisco 49ers.
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Adding to the drama, where did Reid begin his head coaching career? With the Philadelphia Eagles where, yes he did have success, leading the Eagles to four straight NFC Championship appearances and a Super Bowl berth in 2004, but the knock was that he could never win the big one. Regardless of how I feel or any Eagles fans feel, Reid is by far one of the most successful coaches to ever grace the NFL and has contributed in large part to the success of two-time MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes and All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce.
On the other sideline is 41 year-old and second year head coach Nick Sirianni who brings a certain swagger and energy to the team. Sirianni, although was left out of coach of the year nominations, led the Eagles to a franchise best 14-3 record in his second campaign as the Eagles had both a top five offense and defense in football.
Another fun piece of information is that when Reid took over as the Chiefs head coach in 2013, one of the assistant coaches he let go was Sirianni.
Another interesting matchup to watch is the Eagles defensive line versus the Chiefs offensive line. The Chiefs have a very respectable offensive line with guys like Creed Humphrey, Orlando Brown and Joe Thuney, but will it be enough to stop the Eagles defensive line?
The Eagles defensive line is one of the best in football, right up there with the San Francisco 49ers. Hasson Reddick, Javon Hargrave, Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat set a franchise record as they became the first Eagles defense to have four guys with over 10 sacks. In the NFC Championship against the 49ers, the defensive line single-handedly changed the game as a Hasson Reddick strip sack knocked quarterback Brock Purdy out of the game in the first quarter.
Getting pressure on the two-time league MVP Patrick Mahomes is going to be key on Sunday.
Another interesting matchup will be the Eagles wide receiver’s against the Chiefs secondary. Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is one of the most creative and adaptive defensive coordinators in the NFL as defensive backs L’Jarius Sneed and Trent McDuffie will be tasked with covering All-Pro AJ Brown and former Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith.
Brown and Smith have a large part to do with the success of Jalen Hurts’ passing game this season as Brown set a franchise record 1,496 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first season in Philadelphia. DeVonta Smith also went for 1,110 yards on 95 catches, which resulted in the Eagles posting two 1,000 yard wide receivers for the first time in franchise history.
If the Chiefs allow Hurts time in the pocket, I could see AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith really causing problems in the Chiefs secondary.
The last and probably most important matchup is the Chiefs duo of Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce against the Eagles defense. As we all know, Patrick Mahomes needs no introduction. Two-time league MVP, three-time AFC Champion and 2019 Super Bowl Champion, Mahomes has become the face of the NFL.
This season was unlike any other as Mahomes threw for a record 5,200 yards and 41 touchdowns, securing league MVP. His best weapon, Travis Kelce makes them the best duo in the NFL. Kelce caught 112 passes in 2022 for 1300 yards and 12 touchdowns. With Kelce’s speed, agility and ability to find open spots in the defense combined with Mahomes athleticism and improvisation, the Eagles defense has their work cut out for them.
The Eagles defense has risen up to the challenge all year and most certainly have a chance against Mahomes and the Kansas City offense. Getting pressure on the quarterback as well as Pro-Bowl cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry are going to have to lock up the Chiefs wide receivers to allow the defensive line to get pressure on Mahomes.
I really could see this game going both ways, but I can’t picture the Eagles defensive line not having an impact on this game.
Score prediction: Eagles 31, Chiefs 28.