Super Bowl 57 gets underway this weekend as the Philadelphia Eagles battle the Kansas City Chiefs at State Farm Stadium in Arizona.
The Eagles are looking to win their second Super Bowl in franchise history after they beat the New England Patriots 33-41 to win Super Bowl 52 in 2018. As for Kansas City, they are back in the Super Bowl for the third time in four seasons and Patrick Mahomes will be hoping to add the Lombardi trophy to his MVP award this season.
On Thursday (9 February) night, Mahomes joined a star-studded cast of quarterbacks to be awarded multiple MVP awards, including Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Steve Young, Joe Montana and Tom Brady. The Kansas City Chiefs superstar will hope to become the first signal-caller to win the Super Bowl and MVP in the same season since Kurt Warner in 1999.
The two-time MVP will be hoping to earn his second Lombardi trophy, following the Chiefs 31-20 win over the 49ers in the 2019-20 season. Should the Chiefs beat the Eagles he will be the first quarterback to win two MVPs and two Super Bowl titles within his first six seasons.
In their most recent Super Bowl appearance, Andy Reid’s team were defeated 31-9 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. The defeat ended their hopes to become the first team to win two successive Super Bowls since the New England Patriots won in both 2003-2004 and 2004-2005. Kansas City will be hoping for better luck this time around.
With that in mind, we take a look at two things both teams need to do to win.
- Contain Travis Kelce
Following the departure of Tyreek Hill in the offseason, Kelce was elevated to the role of Patrick Mahomes’ undisputed favourite target and needless to say he didn’t disappoint. Kelce finished the regular season with 110 catches, 1338 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns and had six games with 100+ yards receiving.
The tight end’s production has transferred to the postseason too. The Jacksonville Jaguars had no answer for him as he caught 14 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Kelce was a little more quiet against Cincinnati in the AFC Championship game, but still caught seven passes for 78 yards and a touchdown.
The 2022 First-team All-Pro has only been held to under 50 receiving yards one three occasions this year, but in one of those games he caught a career-high four touchdown passes. That contest against the Raiders in October showed even if you keep the tight-end quiet he is still a major threat in the Red Zone.
If the Eagles are to emerge victorious, they need to stop Kelce.
- Get pressure on Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes is almost the literal definition of a human highlight reel. He can make plays with his legs, he can make miraculous throws, he can play within the pocket and can make throws on the run. Stopping Mahomes is easier said than done, but the Eagles defensive front might just be able to get the job done.
Haason Reddick, Javon Hargrave, Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat all had over 10 sacks in the regular season, and the Eagles as a team led the NFL in sacks during the regular season with 70. That amounted to an average of just over four sacks a game. The Eagles’ defensive front has continued to hit the same heights during the postseason so far, recording eight in the last two games.
However, the Eagles must avoid rushing five passers too often. According to NFL.com’s Next Gen stats, Mahomes has faced five pass rushers on blitzes 35.3% of the time since 2018, and in that period he has a passer rating of 116.5, a 23-1 touchdown to interception ratio and completed over 60% of his passes.
The Eagles will hope to use four pass rushers to try and slow down Mahomes on Sunday, but even then it may not be enough.
Kansas City Chiefs
- Establish the ground game
To help overcome Philadelphia’s defensive front and to control the clock and keep Jalen Hurts off the field, the Chiefs will need to establish the ground game in Arizona. The Chiefs ranked 20th in rushing yards this season, averaging 115.9 yards per game. However, the Chiefs ranked in the bottom ten teams in rush attempts and in attempts per game, according to Fox Sports.
Since the start of the playoffs, the Chiefs have attempted to establish the ground game, ranking in the top six teams in both attempts and attempts per game. However, they are averaging under 100 yards per game on the ground as a team and have yet to score a rushing touchdown.
The running game offered very little two weeks ago against the Bengals as the Chiefs rushed for just 42 yards on 20 attempts. Kansas City will need to find a way to get the run game involved if they are to wear down a strong Eagles defense.
- Pass rush needs to be as dominant as it was against the Bengals
The Chiefs pass rush enjoyed a terrific evening at Arrowhead Stadium two weeks ago as they recorded five sacks and six tackles for a loss of yards. Kansas City made life very uncomfortable for Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow inside the pocket.
The Bengals o-line gave up 21 pressures in Kansas City and Burrow had a pressure percentage of 50% during the 1st quarter of the AFC Championship clash. The Chiefs will need a similar display on defense if they are to stop Jalen Hurts.