Super Bowl LVII is almost here, and if you’re like any objective observer, you’ve been staring at this matchup on paper for so long that you’re second-, triple- and quadruple-guessing yourself. The line hasn’t budged at all since settling in at Eagles -1.5, and that should tell you one thing: Stick to your initial thoughts.
The betting trends haven’t been enough to sway oddsmakers one way or the other, and it feels like Vegas doesn’t want to write off the Kansas City Chiefs because of the Patrick Mahomes variable. So stick to your gut because that’s exactly what the sharps are doing.
With that said, the line indicates a case can be made for both teams, and that’s precisely what I’m going to do.
Philadelphia gets a lead and doesn’t look back
My initial gut feeling was Philly is going to roll. They rarely trailed this year when healthy and trying, and the playoffs haven’t been any different. Both of the Birds’ playoff games were over before the half, and once Philly gets momentum, it’s literally all downhill from there for opponents.
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The defensive line is a bear to deal with when the opposition is one-dimensional, and they love to get after the quarterback. Philly led the NFL in sacks this season with 70, and has done that mostly with the front four. They’re in the bottom half of the league in blitz percentage, and that’ll help keep an already hampered Mahomes and that KC offense contained to methodical, long drives.
If I’m Nick Sirianni, and I win the toss, I’m taking the ball and trying to get the Chiefs in a trailing position from the jump. The Eagles’ offense is so diverse that it’s near impossible to stop them when they can use the entire playbook.
Add in the threat of Jalen Hurts in the run game, and the defense’s only hope is that field position deters the Eagles from going for it on fourth-and-short. This Philly team absolutely adores bullying squads, and after a bunch of body blows that’s when they hit you with big plays to A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith.
They’re as confident as they are scary, and ooze the vibe of a group that could win a title largely untested. And that might just be because few teams, if any, have really been good enough to actually compete with them.
Kansas City keeps it close, and Mahomes goes full Rambo
The prevailing argument I’ve seen against Philly is that they’ve beaten up on a bunch of mongrel QBs all year, and Mahomes is a purebred. I agree. He just won his second MVP, and should not be doubted after beating Cincinnati on one leg.
The second most impressive aspect of that win against the Bengals was the Chiefs’ defense. Joe Burrow had the ball twice late in the fourth quarter with a chance to go in front, and the KC secondary made a play followed shortly thereafter by Chris Jones and the defensive line. A D-line that, oh by the way, is second in the NFL in sacks (albeit 15 less than the Eagles’ 70).
Jones and Frank Clark headline that unit, which is why it gets talked about a ton. However, they actually finished eighth in rush defense, and that’ll be the key for them. Burrow and Josh Allen give Kansas City fits because of their legs — be it Burrow scrambling for big conversions two weeks ago, or Allen with the death by a thousand designed QB runs. Something Philly is going to do quite a bit I imagine.
There’s been speculation that Hurts is still ailing, but this is the Super Bowl, so I don’t think he’ll be too deterred from using his legs. Mahomes’ mobility is my main concern with Kansas City. Ask Brock Purdy if that Eagles front four fucks around. I don’t know if Mahomes can even go full Rambo with that ankle, and he is the offense.
While Isiah Pacheco and the offensive line have been tremendous, Andy Reid loathes running the ball. Philly knows that as well as anyone. He can try to do the quick passes and protect his QB, but the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers tried that, and both got boat-raced. The Eagles are going to be dry-humping Travis Kelce all over the State Farm Stadium field, and Mahomes will have to be even better than he was in the AFC title game. If he is, it’ll be some God-level quarterbacking, and that’s just to keep it close let alone win.
That’s what I’m rooting for because it’d be fantastic to watch, and, y’know, fuck the Eagles. Be that as it may, if I had to put money on it, Philly covers in their sleep.