The Philadelphia Eagles are set to do battle with the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 57 tonight.
Nick Sirianni’s Eagles will be playing in their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history this evening, and will be hoping to earn their second Lombardi trophy. The NFC East team overcame the New England Patriots in a 33-41 thriller in Super Bowl 52 to win the showpiece event.
As for Kansas City, the Chiefs will be gunning for their third title in franchise history. Andy Reid’s team ended a 50 year Super Bowl drought in 2020 following their 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. The two-time champions returned to the showpiece event in the 2020-21 campaign, but fell at the final hurdle, losing 31-9 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
History has favoured the Chiefs in this clash, winning five of the nine games between the two franchises. Meanwhile, the most recent clash saw Andy Reid’s men defeat the Eagles 42-30 In Philadelphia last season.
Ahead of the game we take a look at three matchups that could decide the game.
Patrick Mahomes vs Eagles pass rush
Mahomes heads into the Super Bowl fresh off winning his second MVP award on Thursday night, and is gunning to become the first MVP winner to win the Super Bowl in the same year since Kurt Warner in 1999. However, he must find a way to evade the Eagles’ ferocious defensive front.
Siranni’s team had four players with over 10 sacks in the regular season in edge rushers Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat, outside linebacker Haason Reddick and defensive tackle Javon Hargrave. While the Eagles as a franchise had 70 sacks in the regular season, more than any other team. Jonathan Gannon’s defense has continued to perform in the postseason too, recording
The Eagles’ defensive front has continued to hit the same heights during the postseason so far, recording five sacks against the Giants in the Divisional Round and three against the 49ers in the NFC title game. If the Eagles can get to Mahomes regularly, it will go a long way to achieving victory on Sunday (12 February).
AJ Brown & DeVonta Smith vs Chiefs secondary
Since arriving in an offseason trade from the Tennessee Titans, AJ Brown has gone from strength to strength. The wide receiver recorded a career-high 88 catches for a career-high 1496 receiving yards and he matched his career best 11 touchdowns. Alongside him, Devonta Smith recorded 95 catches, 1196 yards receiving and seven touchdowns.
The wideouts have been a big part of Jalen Hurts’ breakout season, combining for 15 of Hurts’ 22 touchdown passes in the regular season. The pair are set to face off with a young Chiefs secondary this weekend, who upped their game during KC AFC title against Cincinnati.
Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed suffered an early injury and had to exit the game in the first period. As a result, the Chiefs were forced to rely on rookie defensive backs Jaylen Watson, Joshua Williams and Trent McDuffie. However, the young defensive backs stepped up when it mattered as Williams and Watson both intercepted Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.
The Chiefs got the job done against the Bengals, but whether they can step up once again and neutralise the Eagles star-studded receiver duo remains to be seen. If they can take Brown and Smith out of the equation, it will go a long way towards guaranteeing victory.
Travis Kelce vs the Eagles secondary
The Eagles secondary will face arguably their biggest challenge this season as they attempt to neutralise All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce. Kelce became Patrick Mahomes’ undisputed no.1 target this year after Tyreek Hill was traded to the Miami Dolphins in the offseason. Kelce enjoyed a superb regular season, finishing it with 110 catches, 1338 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns and recorded six games with 100+ yards receiving.
The tight end has since played a starring role in the playoffs. The Jacksonville Jaguars were unable to slow him down in the Divisional Round as he caught 14 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Cincinnati fared better in terms of slowing him down, but Kelce still caught seven passes for 78 yards and a touchdown.
However, the Eagles have a star-studded cast of defensive backs, featuring Pro-Bowlers Darius Slay, James Bradberry and CJ Gardner-Johnson who have fared reasonably well against high-performing pass catchers this season.
Justin Jefferson was held under 50 yards receiving in week two, Christian Kirk was held to two catches and 60 receiving yards in week four, CeeDee Lamb was limited to five catches and 68 yards receiving in week six. However, Kelce has so far proved a mismatch for the majority of teams he has faced this season.
The tight-end has only been held to under 50 receiving yards on three occasions this year and has only had less than five catches on four occasions. However, in one of three games he caught a career-high four touchdown passes. That display just highlighted the difficulty in neutralising Kelce completely.