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Bob Angelo

Thoughts On The Game
  • Writer's pictureBob Angelo

Kansas City Chiefs vs Philadelphia Eagles

Super Bowl LVII (57) could be a championship game event for the ages—or a great big bungled bust!

Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs return to the ultimate game for the third time in four seasons. They beat San Francisco in Super Bowl LIV (54) 31-20, scoring 21 fourth quarter points.

They failed to show up for Super Bowl LV (55), losing 31-9 to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs.

Looming large over the event are a pair of injuries that could drastically alter the outcome: Patrick Mahomes’ ankle sprain and Jalen Hurts’ tender shoulder. With all due respect to backup QBs Chad Henne and Gardner Minshew, if either starting quarterback suffers a disabling relapse, the competitive balance of this game will vanish very quickly.

Should the NFL office make an emergency third quarterback mandatory for Super Bowls? Would it really matter? If a QB is worthy of the ultimate game, chances are some other NFL team already owns his rights.

Kansas City started out as a slight betting favorite. Philadelphia soon reversed the odds. Back-to-back playoff victories over two worthy opponents by a cumulative 69-14 score will do that. But as we all know, San Francisco ran out of qualified passers.

Kansas City’s two wins came over a young team still missing key pieces (Jacksonville), and a banged up Cincinnati team that handed the Chiefs a game-winning field goal opportunity on a platter. The Bengals easily could have beaten the Chiefs a fourth straight time and returned to their second Super Bowl in as many seasons.

And yet, as I ponder the possible potential outcomes for Super Bowl LVII, I keep thinking—if Patrick Mahomes is standing at the end, the outcome could come down to a final possession.

Football logic tells me both offenses will find ways to move the ball and score points. But post-season stats tell me the Eagles are allowing opponents less than 100 yards a game both rushing and passing. Their passing yards number of 96.0 Yards per Game is beyond belief!

Yes, I know San Francisco ran out of quarterbacks. But Philly’s pass rush made that situation happen. Just ask Brock Purdy and Josh Johnson.

Going into Super Bowl LVII, the Eagles have recorded 75 sacks in 18 games, the third highest single-season team total of all-time, trailing only the 1984 & 1985 Chicago Bears. They dispatched both 49ers' QB’s on clean hits in the title game. They’ve actually become more aggressive with better results in the postseason.

During the regular season, only Philadelphia exceeded Kansas City’s 55 team sacks. And Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo dials up blitzes with the best DC’s in the business. He designed two winning defensive game plans for a pair of New York Giants’ Super Bowl victories over New England. Just ask Tom Brady how those hits felt.

Both offensive lines are big, strong and dotted with All Pros. Both know their quarterbacks are playing through injuries that make each more vulnerable. Nobody wants to be the guy who misses the block that results in a QB hit and a seismic shift in competitive balance. And yet…

Telling Pat Mahomes not to extend plays or Jalen Hurts not to keep the ball and run when an RPO presents an opportunity is like trying to make Secretariat slow down in the stretch. Their mobility makes good things happen. And both guys know that!

Both teams can run the ball effectively, though Philadelphia’s post season Yards per Attempt (4.7) and Yards per Game (208) numbers dwarf KC’s 3.7 and 93.0 respectively. Plus, the Eagles have scored 7 rushing touchdowns. The Chiefs have recorded none!

Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce poses problems for every NFL pass defense. But so do Philly wideouts A. J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. Philly’s pass defense ranked first in the NFL during the regular season in fewest passing yards allowed. Kansas City finished 19th. This may be the Eagles’ single biggest advantage going into this game.

If both quarterbacks can remain on the field for the duration, I believe Mahomes’ magic will account for a few more big plays and winning moments than the numbers suggest. But as recent Super Bowl history has demonstrated, when the Chiefs offense implodes, it can shut down completely—even with Mahomes!

If Jalen Hurts’ shoulder fails him, Philadelphia conceivably could run the ball a lot, exhaust the clock and minimize total offensive possessions. But I doubt if that provides a winning scenario for the Eagles.

So my prediction comes down to pass protection and QB health. Both quarterbacks will be targeted. Both will be forced off their marks. The man still standing at the end and throwing the ball effectively throughout will likely earn his team the coveted Lombardi Trophy.

Few people will remember the final score or how it happened.

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