With the Super Bowl being a mere (I use this in a relative sense, we all know these days will be agonizingly long.) 4 days away, and with all the hubbub surrounding the game I figured I should probably write about something surrounding the game too. Yes, it is still #MockDraftSZN, but obviously the Super Bowl is just a bit more pressing, more on the draft later. Let's get into 3 keys to the game that the Chiefs will have to do (At least in my humble opinion) to win their 2nd Super Bowl in 4 years.
Contain the Run Game, specifically Jalen Hurts, and dominate the trenches.
Defense will play a huge part in this game, and with another high-powered offense in the Eagles, saying "Play good defense" to this Chiefs team is far too simple, and easier said than done. The Eagles' passing game is certainly nothing to mess around with, the young defensive backs of the Chiefs will have to perform close if not to/above the level they played against Cincinatti, with receivers such as AJ Brown and Devonta Smith lurking about. However, the Eagles won their games by running RPOs, option plays, and beating their opponents in the trenches. The main contributors to such an offense? Jalen Hurts, Miles Sanders, and the Eagles O-line. It's mainly Hurts I want to talk about here. The Chiefs linebackers will have to be incredibly disciplined in defending Hurts, running QB spies, paying attention to the ball and not the moving parts, and by filling every gap that opens up. The edges also will have to play their part by not getting greedy and shooting inside, as both Sanders and Hurts are burners if you give them the space. Hurts cannot have any room to breathe whatsoever, think of games where the Chiefs have faced Lamar Jackson and how the Chiefs have beaten him. Containment, force them to pass and pass quick, and fly to the ball for the tackle. Be physical and win this game in the trenches, and do not give Hurts the time to make plays.
2. Balanced Offensive Attack
This Eagles defense will be getting pressure on Patrick Mahomes every chance they can, so it is imperative that he has every opportunity to get the ball downfield. Now, everyone and their mother knows about Travis Kelce, including a pretty good Eagles secondary with two star corners in CJ Gardner-Johnson and Darius Slay. The safeties are serviceable and nothing too much of note, but the weakness in the pass defense lies in the linebackers. Really the only thing that has put this defense on a pedestal is the corners (who've shown they can be exploited) and their edge rushers. Lots of talk, some of walk. The Eagles live and die by the pass rush, which leaves a perfect environment for quick passes to your speedsters to open up room. Keep hitting those quick passes, utilize the run game heavy (you MUST win in the trenches offensively as well, which the Eagles have actually struggled with containing the run) and look for opportunities to "blow the roof off." By that, I mean sending a guy like Marquez Valdez-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, or even Justin Watson down field for a big deep ball once you have that defense sucked in anticipating a dink and dunk play. Balance the offensive attack, keep protection on Patrick Mahomes, highlight the easily seen weaknesses in this Eagles' defense, and this offense can absolutely exploit this (in my opinion) overrated Eagles' D. The Eagles have not played anyone CLOSE to the Chiefs offense this year and could be in for a wakeup call if the Chiefs can put their best foot forward.
3. POSSESSION, PHYSICALITY, sPEED?
Win the time of possession, and you win this game. It sounds so simple yet is incredibly hard given how the Eagles play their offense. Lots of plays to wear you down and lull your defense to sleep. Keep the ball in your hands, and the Eagles don't have a shot to do that. This is kind of where the previous two points come together, as fly-to-the-ball, physical defense that forces turnovers and contains the run, as well as a balanced offensive attack that doesn't try for the home run every time (but still some of the time) is how you maintain that possession. The key here is to get as many first downs as possible, and basically do what the Eagles' offense does only better. Dig in, win the trenches, and bully this Eagles' team into submission, and you cruise to victory here. Once again, the Eagles really have not faced someone of AFC caliber. They haven't faced a great quarterback, the best defense they've faced is San Francisco, who were not only hobbled when they faced the Eagles, when they were at full health the Chiefs completely dismantled their defense, putting up 44 points by simply out-speeding and out-bullying a very fast, very physical team. Show how much quicker you are than they are, punch them in the mouth (figuratively), and command the ball and tempo. Again, much easier said than done, but the Chiefs have the tools and willpower to absolutely dominate this Eagles squad.
In the end, this game will all depend on which Chiefs team shows up and which Eagles team shows up. If both teams play at their absolute best, I believe the Chiefs have the edge. The Chiefs have more weapons, big time momentum after getting the monkey off their back that is (in my opinion) a bigger challenge known as the Cincinnati Bengals, a better coach, and the MVP. This Eagles team has little idea who they're up against because the Eagles have not SEEN the likes of Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs this year. The Chiefs have faced teams like the Eagles this year, a couple times actually. I don't think there's a comparison out there to the Chiefs offense, which is part of why they're the first ranked offense in the NFL. The betting line may be even, but the Chiefs are the better team if they are at their best. Carl Cheffers aside, so long as they do not fear the trenches and execute, the Chiefs win. I firmly believe that.
Burn Notice: 9/10 I wish I were in Glendale this weather stinks...