The Eagles have the better team but the Chiefs have the best player at the most important position. Which will prevail?
Goodbye football. I will miss you these next seven months.
Last Week: 1 – 1 – 0
Playoffs: 6 – 6 – 0
First, let’s get to the conference championships. I know, a brief recap 12 days later is exactly what everyone wants. You’re welcome.
To all the 49er fans, players, coachers, apologists; your quarterbacks got hurt because you couldn’t protect them. The Eagles pass rush buried them on completely clean, legal hits. That’s football. You knew the Eagles had an elite pass rush and you couldn’t handle it. It happens. And stop with the 3rd and 4th quarterback nonsense. Your 3rd quarterback was your best quarterback. He hadn’t lost all season. You can’t just turn it around and call him your 3rd stringer all-of-sudden. Would the game have been closer had Purdy not been injured? Probably, but I don’t think the outcome would’ve changed.
Second, is Brock Purdy also your middle linebacker? Did Josh Johnson start at defensive tackle and I just missed it? San Francisco’s top ranked defense allowed 77 rushing yards per game all season. You surrendered 148 in Philadelphia. Your best unit got beat by the Eagles best unit. Quarterback or not, your defense got bullied. The Eagles couldn’t even throw the football. Jalen Hurts was brutal. The 49er pass defense was supposed to be the weakness the Eagles would expose and when they couldn’t, they just lined up and ran it down your throat.
Third, the 49ers came in acting all tough. They thought they were the bullies. The only time I saw the 49ers try to impose themselves with any success was late in the 4th quarter when Trent Williams threw someone half his size to the ground. Game was over. The Eagles had called off the dogs. The 49ers finally felt tough. Good job you frauds. See you next year.
Onto the Super Bowl
(1)Chiefs at (1)Eagles [4:30PM ET, FOX]
I’m not going to lie. I am terrified of Patrick Mahomes. When your team is in the NFC, you get to enjoy the awesomeness of Mahomes from a distance. It’s like seeing a Tiger fed at the zoo. It’s an amazing experience to see a true killer in action. It’s even better to be witnessed from behind a foot of glass. That wall of protection is now gone. We are in the exhibit. We are the food. Time to survive.
So, how do the Eagles survive? Run the football, score a lot of points, and pressure Mahomes every second he is on the field. And even then there’s no guarantee it will be enough. It’s true, the Eagles defense can be scored upon. The Packers, Cowboys, Lions and Commanders were all successful in lighting up the scoreboard. They did it in different ways, too. Green Bay used big plays (three touchdowns of 20+ yards), the Cowboys and Dak Prescott threw for almost 350 yards, and the Commanders controlled the ball for 2/3rds of the game. (Not counting Detroit here. They were down 31-14 with 20 minutes to go before their offense did much.) The Eagles defense isn’t perfect, but a relentless pass rush makes even the ugly girls pretty.
Mahomes can’t be afforded time Sunday night. Even on a bum ankle he’s proven an ability to maneuver within the pocket and escape it to extend or make plays with his legs. Outside of All-Pro Travis Kelce, the Eagles secondary should have the advantage against an injury riddled Kansas City receiving corps. Limiting Mahomes’ time is the key to success, much like Tampa Bay did in the Super Bowl two years ago.
While I think the Eagles pass rush will make plays, I think the offense needs to win this one. Injured or not, Jalen Hurts needs to make big plays in the passing game. He overthrew an open AJ Brown in the NFC title game and under-threw both Quez Watkins and DeVonta Smith when they had a step. He was bad against the 49ers. I think I’m alone on this, but I thought Hurts looked tight. He wasn’t himself. Everyone points to the injury, but Hurts made nice throws a week earlier against the Giants. The moment got to him a bit. It happens. In many ways, the pressure is 0ff now in the Super Bowl. You made it here. There’s nowhere else to go, this is the last stop. Just let it rip.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be ALL Jalen. The offensive line just manhandled the NFL’s best defense. While the Chiefs have some elite talent on their defensive line, the Eagles line should have their way on the ground. I don’t expect a dominate performance, but it should be productive, much like their effort against San Francisco.
Why don’t I think it will be dominate? Because I think Kansas City will want to test Hurts. Like I said, he was bad last week. 54 of his 121 passing yards in the NFC Championship came on the first drive. The Chiefs KNOW the Eagles can run the ball, so why not try to limit the run and gage where Hurts is at? Brown and Smith have 147 receiving yards in the postseason… combined. Kansas City has little reason to fear the Eagles passing game until Hurts gives them one.
And then there’s the coaches. Andy Reid has all the experience and yet I think Sirianni’s brash and fearlessness is more built for this environment. He won’t be afraid. Reid, on the other hand, will likely make a head-scratching decision at some point in the game that could come back to haunt the Chiefs. It’s also no secret that Reid has never gotten great quarterback play in a Super Bowl. I don’t necessarily blame him for this, but it can’t just be written off, either. On the other hand, maybe Mahomes is due for a legendary performance on the game’s biggest stage? All I know is the Eagles are better. And I will do my part. CHIEFS +1.5