September 26, 2023

PHOENIX — This is a culture clash, a running team that finished in the top 5 in the NFL in rushing against a passing team with a quarterback who is the NFL MVP this season, a passer so good that he is playing in his third Super Bowl in four years at the tender NFL age of 27. 

It’s the Eagles’ beat-you-up running game that features an emerging star in quarterback Jalen Hurts as the trigger against Patrick Mahomes and his Chiefs passing attack.

Do you like new wave or old school?

That isn’t to say Hurts isn’t a good passer, but let’s be real, the Eagles offense is predicated on running the football. The Chiefs offense is predicated on Mahomes. Period.

That’s what makes Super Bowl LVII so intriguing, two distinct styles on offense with two talented defenses trying to control them.

The Eagles have the better defense. It is a unit that had 70 sacks in the regular season, with four guys with double-digits. That’s impressive when you consider the 1985 Chicago Bears, often viewed as the NFL’s nastiest defense, hold the record for sacks in a season with 72 (set in 16 games, not the 17 the Eagles played).

So how do you slow Mahomes? Hit him. That’s what Tampa Bay did two years ago to beat the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. They mauled him. But that Chiefs offensive line wasn’t nearly as good as this year’s group, which is why the old adage will be on play: If they block them, they beat them. 

The Eagles secondary has played well, but it’s because of that pass rush that they have stacked up so well. It’s easy to play coverage with that type of pressure in front of you, week in and week out. 

If Mahomes has time — even with a bum ankle that he says has improved greatly since he hurt it three weeks a go — he will pick apart the Eagles secondary. So it basically comes down to the Chiefs offensive line. Can they hold up?

The Eagles better have a plan for Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. They should double him and dare everybody else to beat them. That’s what I would do. The Eagles do have linebackers who can run, and I think linebacker T.J. Edwards, the Eagles most-underrated player, will come up big. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is also a chess piece in the secondary that can do a lot of things and might spend time on Kelce. 

Some say the Chiefs should run the ball more, but that would be a win for the Eagles. Anytime the ball isn’t being thrown around by Mahomes, that’s win for the defense. 

On the other side of the ball, the Eagles offensive line has a huge edge. It is the best unit in the league, a group that keys the run game that makes the Eagles so tough to defend. But that line gave up 44 sacks this season. That’s a red flag against a Chiefs defense that was second in the league in sacks with 55.

Defensive tackle Chris Jones is a beast inside and he has to be held in check. Jones is a game-wrecker who can take over games, as his two sacks in the AFC Championship Game can attest.

Hurts was in the MVP conversation before missing three games with a shoulder injury late in the season. He hasn’t been forced to put up big numbers in the Eagles’ two blowout victories in the postseason, but the will have to do so here.

The Chiefs are going to score points. That means the Eagles will have to get their share of big plays as well. I think they do, mostly coming on the deep passing game. 

Look for Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to attack Hurts, who has struggled some when blitzed. Spagnuolo is known for his blitzing style, so it makes sense to do so here. The only problem is it can lead to big plays for Hurts running it and for the big chunk plays down the field to Eagles receivers DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown.

Both offenses will have success. That will make this a fun Super Bowl. But, in the end, new school will beat old school.

Give me the best quarterback in the league on the biggest stage. Mahomes will close out the season with the award trifecta: League MVP, Super Bowl MVP and another ring to add to his first one.

The Chiefs dynasty will be in full force come late Sunday evening.

Featured Game | Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Pick: Chiefs 33, Eagles 30

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