What started back in the pre-season heat of August is finally coming to a close as we approach Valentine’s Day. Some day the Super Bowl might not be played until after Spring Training starts. But first a bit of a recap.
Here were Red’s preseason picks:
AFC Division Champs – Chiefs, Bills, Ravens, Colts
AFC Wildcards – Chargers, Raiders, Bengals
NFC Division Champs – Eagles, Rams, Packers, Buccaneers
NFC Wildcards – Panthers, Lions, 49ers
AFC Champions – Bills over Chiefs
NFC Champions – Eagles over Rams
Superb Owl Champions – Bills defeat Eagles
In retrospect, Red did not do too well. He only had 8 of the 14 playoff teams and is scratching his head about picking the Panthers, Colts and Raiders to make the playoffs. On the other hand, no one probably predicted the Rams being a doormat or the Packers collapse and the Lions were only a win away from fulfilling Red’s 2022 NFL Team of Destiny prediction. On to the big game.
Chiefs over Eagles –
Like most of the U.S. and a good part of the globe, Red always hopes for a good game. The Chiefs certainly failed on that front in their last SB outing by getting utterly trounced by the Buccaneers. But the Eagles turned in a fine performance in defeating the Patriots 41-33 in a back and forth game and overcoming a 505 yard passing performance from the supposedly retired Tom Brady (not to mention career highlight games from LeGarrett Blount and Danny Amendola). That was also the last time the two No. 1 seeds met in the championship. This one has all the makings of a high-scoring back and forth game, but in reality the games with No. 1 seeds (SB 11 was the first under the current seeding system) matching up have been rather disappointing. The best have been the Niners and Bengals in No. 16 and the Patriots and Seahawks in No. 49. All too often these highly anticipated games between the powerhouse teams have been complete snoozefests with millions of Americans turning to Masterpiece Theatre reruns. Red would prefer to watch All Creatures Great and Small at a later date.
As for the game itself, Red gives the Chiefs offense a slight edge over the Eagles. Expect Andy surprise everyone by pulling some weasels (rabbits be damned) out of the red baseball cap. If we don’t see at least three fairly complex trick plays in addition to the usual imaginative offensive scheme, Red will be sorely disappointed. The injury limitations for P. Mahomes really should call for some offensive wizardry. Mahomes seems more and more comfortable with MVS as an alternative to Kelce and McKinnon is a reliable safety valve and more. Pacheco needs to approach 90 rushing yards to keep the Eagles honest. The offensive line is a top 5 unit and as always if Mahomes gets over the love affair with his arm and doesn’t try to force balls into double and triple coverage, the Chiefs should be good for 30+ points. The Chiefs were an impressive 6-2 against playoff teams this season with losses only to the Bills and Bengals (since avenged). They are ready.
The Eagles are no slouches when it comes to scoring either. The Eagles beat every playoff team they faced this season with the exception of a 40-34 loss to the Cowboys when J. Hurts was out for a 5-1 record in quality games. The Eagles have the best wide receiver tandem in Brown and Smith and an unexpectedly good running game even subtracting Mr. Hurts’ yardage. Good balance and solid play calling have had them among the scoring leaders all season. The Eagles failed to top 20 points only twice all season and they won one of those games anyway.
Defenses for both teams are also close. The Eagles brutalized the Niners in the NFC Championship game so expect them to come hard at Mahomes. The Chiefs defense was on top of its game against the Bengal picking off two Burrow passes and sacking him 5 times. The better defense in the 4th quarter may be the key to winning on Sunday.
The bottom line is hazy here. The Chiefs had the best offense in the league based on just about any available measure. The Eagles probably would have been No. 2 but for the injury to Hurts. Both offenses are better than both defenses. The Eagles have the best pass rushing defense, but the Chiefs have the No. 1 pass-blocking line by some measures. As usual, this one probably comes down to turnovers, stupid penalties (ask the Bengals about that) and a couple of lucky or unlucky bounces of the ball. There is very little daylight between these two teams.
The only bet Red might consider would be taking the over at 50. Both of these teams play fast and if it is close no one is going to be sitting on the ball.
Kansas City 32 Philadelphia 30.