The Super Bowl LVII matchup is set, and it is only fitting that it will involve the No. 1 seeds from the AFC and NFC as the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles meet. It’ll be the first matchup of No. 1 seeds since 2017, when the Eagles beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. The Eagles are a small favorite and the over/under opened at 49.5.
Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, February 12, from State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The game will be televised nationally on FOX. Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen will broadcast their first Super Bowl.
There is no shortage of storylines with Andy Reid going against his former team and the Kelce brothers (Travis and Jason) facing off. Still, as is usually the case in the NFL everything will ultimately revolve around the two quarterbacks. Specifically the health of Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes.
Neither player has been 100 percent healthy in recent weeks as Hurts has dealt with a shoulder injury, and Mahomes has been playing through a high-ankle sprain. While Mahomes’ mobility seemed limited in the AFC Championship win over the Cincinnati Bengals, he still threw for over 300 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Hurts, meanwhile, has not looked quite as strong in recent weeks and has not thrown for more than 160 yards in either of the Eagles’ first two playoff games.
It also helps that he has not needed to throw the football. The Eagles steamrolled through the NFC playoffs, beating the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers by a combined score of 69-14. As impressive as that run has been, it has also probably been one of the easiest playoff paths for a team in recent memory. After beating up on a mediocre Giants team in the Divisional Round, they got a San Francisco team in the NFC Championship Game that ran out of quarterbacks.
Things will get a lot more difficult against Mahomes and the Chiefs.
One thing to watch is how the Eagles can put pressure on Mahomes. His ability to extend plays under pressure is a big part of what makes the Chiefs offense so dangerous.
Mahomes can excel against any defense, but he is especially lethal against the blitz. The Eagles, however, are one of the best teams in the league to generate pressure without blitzing. They produced the second-highest pressure rate in the league without blitzing during the regular season.
The over/under for the game is set at 49.5. If the over hits, it would be the first time that has happened since Super Bowl LII when the Eagles were 41-33 winners of the New England Patriots.
Another sub-plot to watch: penalties. Carl Cheffers has the referee assignment, and his crews consistently call the most penalties in the NFL, having thrown more than 200 flags seven years in a row. He is the only referee whose crew can make that claim. He officiated Super Bowl LV when Kansas City lost to Tampa Bay, with 15 penalties being called (including 11 on the Chiefs). Eight penalties were called in the first half and set a Super Bowl record for most yards.
What are the odds for the Super Bowl?
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Storylines for Eagles vs. Chiefs
Expert picks for Eagles vs. Chiefs
Why I picked the Chiefs
Jay Morrison: The Chiefs have a better, more experienced head coach. The Chiefs have the better, more experienced quarterback. That alone would outweigh any advantage the Eagles might have in a side-by-side rundown of the other positions if, you know, the Eagles actually had an edge. But they don’t. It’s even. The Philadelphia pass rush is great, and the Eagles are going to pressure Patrick Mahomes. But the Kansas City offensive line is strong enough to limit the heat, and Mahomes should start getting more mobility back with the week off from playing. And don’t discount the fact that the Eagles have had two cakewalks and the Chiefs two fistfights. The Chiefs are better prepared for this and are just plain better.
Austin Mock: The Eagles have built the better roster, but the Chiefs have the better quarterback, and that’s the deciding factor when I make the game a coin flip. Patrick Mahomes has been far and away the best quarterback in the NFL this season — and prior seasons — and if the Chiefs defense can make Joe Burrow and the Bengals offense look human, there is no reason they can’t do it against the Eagles. Again, I make this a coin flip, so it’s as tight as it can get, so give me the best player at the most important position, and that’s Mahomes.
Josh Kendall: Patrick Mahomes threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns and led another sub-one-minute game-winning drive on a leg and a half Sunday. He leads the NFL, again, in offensive EPA (expected points added) at 188.3 this season, according to TruMedia. That’s nearly twice Hurts’ number this year (107.54). In the last five seasons, Mahomes has produced 899.87 EPA. The only player in league with more than 651 in that time is his tight end Travis Kelce. Mahomes is the best player in the NFL by far. He will be the best player in the Super Bowl by far. And he’ll be healthy. Philadelphia will score but not as much as Pat.
Tashan Reed: The Eagles have the best roster in the league, but I’m rolling with the best player: Patrick Mahomes. While Mahomes can’t overcome an entire team by himself — the Chiefs’ blowout loss to the Bucs in Super Bowl LV is a prime example — he’s more than capable of being the deciding factor in a matchup between fairly evenly-matched teams. Kansas City isn’t as complete as Philadelphia. Still, they have one of the best offensive lines in the league, a strong collection of offensive weapons built around Travis Kelce and a defense that’s really come on strong in the playoffs. Another potential equalizer is the fact the Chiefs have the coaching advantage with Andy Reid facing off against Nick Sirianni. Mahomes gets healthy during the two-week gap between the conference championship round and the Super Bowl, puts his excellence on display when it matters and leads the Chiefs as they take another step toward building a dynasty.
Ben Standig: The case for the Eagles centers on roster depth and talent. They have impressive options on both sides of the ball, and they lost only one game this season with Jalen Hurts (Washington in Week 10). And yet, it’s a tick hard to gauge how good they are considering their light schedule over the second half of the season and the NFC playoffs. They also won’t have the best player in the Super Bowl (Patrick Mahomes), the top defender (Chris Jones), or an experienced head coach (Andy Reid). Factor in the men-on-a-mission vibe and, unless the Mahomes injury takes a turn, Chiefs win 24-20.
Why I picked the Eagles
Larry Holder: It comes down to Philadelphia being a more well-rounded team than the Chiefs. Yes, Kansas City supplies superstars like Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Chris Jones. But the Eagles bring elements that will trouble the Chiefs. Philadelphia’s ground attack has been the team’s calling card throughout the season, especially in the NFC Championship win over the 49ers, which possesses one of the better defenses in the league. I feel like the Eagles can expose the Chiefs there. Add the dynamic nature of Jalen Hurts, and you almost have to pick your poison. And then there’s the potent pass rush by Philadelphia. The Eagles led the league by a mile with 70 sacks and ranked second in pass pressure percentage at 38.2 percent, via TruMedia. In the postseason, that pressure rate jumped to 53.6 percent led by Haason Reddick’s 3 1/2 sacks and 31.6 percent pressure rate.
Nick Kosmider: The designed running edge the Eagles have with Jalen Hurts will be the difference in this game. As The Athletic’s Kalyn Kahler laid out so well in her piece on the evolution of the quarterback sneak, the Eagles have a near-automatic win in have-to-have-it short-yardage situations that could be the difference in a tight game like this. Though the Chiefs’ defense has come on strong of late, this rushing attack of Eagles — the best in the NFL by most advanced measures — offers a different challenge altogether, and the prediction here is that head coach and Nick Sirianni and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen will add just enough wrinkles in that attack over the next two weeks to keep Kansas City off balance.
(Photo of Chris Jones: David Eulitt / Getty Images)