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Here we go, y’all: it’s the Kansas City Chiefs versus the Philadelphia Eagles. It's a matchup of 1-seeds in the Super Bowl this year, an oddly chalk ending to an unpredictable regular season. It’s fascinating that both teams are in this position. It was only six months ago that a certain NFL media pundit was predicting the impending fall of the Chiefs dynasty to a team like the Las Vegas Raiders (hey, Rich Eisen). So much for that theory. As for the Eagles, it feels like it’s taken every bit of 21 weeks for people to start buying into the idea that this is actually a dominant team. They only won 14 games, had the third-best point differential in the NFL, and have annihilated both opponents they’ve faced in the postseason thus far. Is a +55-point differential in the playoffs good? Does anybody know?
Getting into the nitty-gritty details, this is a contest of opposite styles. In the right corner, we have the Eagles: tough, powerful, imposing, explosive. In the left corner, we have the Chiefs: intelligent, disciplined, opportunistic, creative. It’s ground-n-pound versus air-it-out. It’s “three yards and a cloud of dust” versus “three yards is for chumps, I’m going for thirty” - except, we live in a bizarro world where the methodical team is the one that drops back to pass forty times a game, and the turbo-charged team is the one with the back-breaking run game. Go figure.
I’m kidding (a little). The Chiefs still had the #1 offense in the NFL this season, but it didn’t look like the attack we’ve come to expect over the years. Instead of deep shots we got more quick hits. Tyreek Hill is gone - and so is the Chiefs ability to rip your heart out in one play - but the Chiefs morphed into a ball-control offense that kills you with a thousand small cuts, and it turns out that might be even more efficient and sustainable. Most importantly, the Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes still doing Patrick Mahomes things; aka, patented no-look passes, an uncanny ability to escape pressure, all the arm strength and accuracy you could want, and the ability (and audacity) to attempt any pass from anywhere at any time and from any arm angle.
The Eagles, meanwhile, come into the Super Bowl sporting the NFL’s second-ranked scoring offense and eighth-ranked scoring defense. Quarterback Jalen Hurts burst onto the scene in his third year in the NFL, putting together an MVP-caliber season in which he led the Eagles to a 14 - 3 record while scoring a combined 35 rushing and passing touchdowns. The Eagles defense was ferocious all season, and no statistic more completely demonstrates that than their 70.0 sacks collected as a unit, good for the third-best mark all-time in the regular season.
One thing these two teams have in common, though, is their dependable offensive lines (sorry, that’s not supposed to be a jab at the Bengals). Both teams feature a wall of protectors so potent, they make Hodor from Game of Thrones look paper-handed by comparison. It’s here, in the trenches, that this game will likely be decided. Can the Chiefs O-line hold the door against a potent Eagles pass rush? And on the flip side, can the Eagles O-line continue to impose their will? Or will Chiefs star defensive tackle Chris Jones continue doing his best Aaron Donald impersonation and obliterate the Eagles best-laid plans?
When you break down these two teams position-by-position, the Eagles feel like a better team all-around. They have the better running back group, they have better wide receivers, their offensive line is probably better, their defensive line is definitely better, and their secondary is better. We’ll call O-line a wash (even though the Eagles line is probably a tad better, too). That leaves linebacker, tight end and quarterback as the only position groups that the Chiefs have the advantage. Fortunately, QB happens to be pretty darn important.
My head is leaning Eagles. They’ve been the better team during the regular season and in the postseason. They’re balanced on both sides of the ball. They protect the passer, and they get after the opposing passer. They can run the ball whenever they want. They have all the ingredients we’ve come to expect from Super Bowl Champions.
My heart is also leaning Eagles. I’m no fan of the Dirty Birds, but I cannot stand the thought of Patrick Mahomes getting another ring. If you thought Fox Sports’s Nick Wright was already insufferable, just wait. If the Chiefs get another title, we will never, ever hear the end of it. He must be stopped - Eagles, this one is on you.
Sadly, though, my gut is telling me that the Chiefs are going to find a way. It doesn’t make sense, really. They’re not as good as the Eagles, but they have Patrick Mahomes. They have Andy Reid. They have Travis Kelce. They have Chris Jones. They’ve been there and done that. They won’t be intimidated, and they won’t shy away from the moment.
Every fiber of my being is screaming for me to say, “Eagles by two scores.” I want to believe it. I want it to be true. But they say that Mahomes is the Grim Reaper, and I have a bad feeling this is the day the Eagles storybook season gets cut down in its prime.
Chiefs 23 - Eagles 20