<u>SUPER BOWL LVII</u>
EAGLES vs. CHIEFS
6:30 p.m., Eagles by 1 ½, 51
HANK’S HONEYS: This would be in our regular season “look but don’t touch” category. Neither team has the clear-cut advantage because while the Eagles are better across the board, the Chiefs have the best QB in the game, particularly when the moment calls for greatness.
If you like intangibles, you’ll probably like the Chiefs. It’s been said over and over the last two weeks: The Eagles have had the easiest path to the Super Bowl and when you look at their schedule, outside of Aaron Rodgers, Dak Prescott and an early-season Trevor Lawrence, they didn’t face the most imposing roster of QBs. The Chiefs have Super Bowl experience starting with Andy Reid over Nick Sirianni. And Reid is money with two weeks to prepare for an opponent. What’s more, if the game comes down to the wire, Patrick Mahomes has been there, done that. Jalen Hurts hasn’t. The Eagles coasted to almost all of their wins.
There is no debate, however, that the Eagles are healthy and the Chiefs are banged up. Mahomes’ high ankle sprain is still a lingering concern while the situation at slot receiver is dire. Mecole Hardman, who re-injured his pelvis in the AFC Championship Game, is out and Kadarius Toney, the ex-Giant enigma, must play through an ankle injury sustained in that same game.
Although Reid’s scheming can never be underestimated (look for the use of two-TE sets to test the Eagles LB corps, getting creative with Travis Klece), Philly’s tandem of CBs matches up very well with what’s left of the Chiefs’ receiving corps. The Eagles’ relentless pressure, with Haason Reddick matched up against K.C.’s weak link, Andrew Wylie, should test Mahomes’ ability to move on that ankle in all directions. It could reprise memories of Supe LV when the Bucs pressured Mahomes 44 times and forced the Chiefs to rebuild their line. To counter the pass rush, Reid will have Mahomes in the shotgun, relying heavily on quick throws to Kelce and ex-Rutgers flash Isiah Pacheco. The Eagles defense has allowed an alarming number of YAC yards out of the backfield this year so that’s something to watch but the Chiefs are still going to need more than that. Certainly, it’s going to be imperative for the Chiefs to get their running game going against a run defense that was just middle of the pack. Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s return helps but can the Chiefs stay patient? That’s never been Reid going back to his days in Philadelphia. Pre-snap motion and the RPO game could give the Eagles trouble but again, is Mahomes healthy enough to run it?
Of the four units, Kansas City’s defense is by far the most troubling after ranking 22nd in the league this season and the Eagles have the tools to take advantage. You can’t beat the Chiefs if you can’t handle Chris Jones. He is a disrupter and the entire defense feeds off him. The Eagles can handle him with Jason Kelce, the best center in the NFL, as part of the best offensive line in the NFL. Should the Eagles control the line of scrimmage they will run the ball effectively and keep Hurts clean. That opens up the variety of their entire offense. Steve Spagnuolo will have to take chances and that’s a dangerous line to walk against this team. K.C.’s secondary can be exploited and, when singled up, the A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith matchups are worrisome should the Chiefs be forced to blitz. There are still questions whether Hurts’ shoulder is fully recovered, especially when looking at his recent passing accuracy. But all things considered, we can’t see the Chiefs holding this offense down.
Recent Super Bowls have been slow starting when it comes to points. Teams tend to feel each other out before the game opens up in the second half. That doesn’t seem like the likely scenario here. These are two fast-breaking teams. They should be more than halfway to the total by halftime.
IF I WERE A BETTING MAN: Eagles and the over.
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LAST WEEK: 0-2 ATS, 1-1 OVER/UNDER
PLAYOFFS: 5-7 ATS, 5-5-2 OVER/UNDER
BEST BETS: 1-2
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