The Chiefs Are Going To Beat The Eagles In The Super Bowl, And Here’s Why

Guess what? On Sunday the Kansas City Chiefs (+1.5) are playing the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl. And because my favorite football team is playing in the final game of the 2022 NFL season, I thought now was as good a time as ever to revisit how I felt about the Chiefs coming into the year. From September 4th:

When I did my AFC West Preview last month I picked the Chiefs to go 11-6 this year. To me the record didn’t matter as much as where they finished in the division — first — because I just have a weird feeling like no matter what happened during the 2022 offseason, with the Chargers loading up, the Broncos getting Russell Wilson, the Raiders getting Davante Adams and Chandler Jones, it’s still going to be Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs celebrating another divisional title in the end. […]

So yes, I am going into this season with the expectation that the Chiefs are going to win their second Super Bowl, and anything less will be a disappointment. It isn’t the healthiest mindset to have, but as long as Patrick Mahomes is playing quarterback I am going to have a tough time convincing myself of anything less.

The NFL season is really fucking long. Now that there are 17 games on the schedule (including a bye week for every team) that gives us 18 weeks of regular season football, a Wild Card Round, a Divisional Round, a Championship Round, and then a two-week break before the Super Bowl. That’s 23 weeks where on the field NFL action is relevant, giving fans like me plenty of time to get lost in the noise and forget where we came from.

I began this campaign with the intention of the Chiefs making their third Super Bowl in four years and winning their second. And my main sticking point was very simple, which is how I like to keep it: Kansas City moved on from their best offensive playmaker and decided to do something different this year. They had a chip on their shoulder from losing to the Bengals in last year’s AFC Championship, which was on the heels of the chip they had on their shoulder from losing to the Buccaneers in the 2020 Super Bowl. They were doing it differently this season, and they had a plan.

Some would argue that said plan was aided by good fortune. Not only did the Bills not get their chance at claiming the number one seed in the AFC as their own — due to Damar Hamlin nearly dying on the field — but in last week’s AFC Championship win against the Bengals people have almost universally said that the Chiefs were the beneficiaries of preferential treatment from the refs.

The thing about football, though, is that the only moment that really matters is the one that’s in front of us. Right now. In every Super Bowl-winning story there are a trail of breadcrumbs that force us to consider just how improbable, or lucky, the winning team was to accomplish the dream. Even in 2019, when the Chiefs won it, it required not only for the Dolphins to beat the Patriots as 17-point underdogs in the final week of the season — thus securing a first round bye for the Chiefs — but then in the Divisional Round the Tennessee Titans slayed the top-seeded Ravens to give KC a home game against a much weaker opponent in the AFC Championship.

There is a very real scenario where a week or so from now I am writing something similar about how the 2022 season shook out. That’s the way it works. Maybe you are lucky to be in the spot you are in, maybe you didn’t earn it or deserve as much as some other teams, but at the end of the day they are sitting at home and you aren’t.

The Eagles, for what it’s worth, have a story of their own. And their story goes like this: to make it to the Super Bowl they played one of the softest schedules in the NFL during the regular season to capture the number one seed in the NFC, they massacred a Daniel Jones-led Giants team in the NFC Divisional Round, and they injured the San Francisco 49ers 3rd- and 4th-string quarterbacks en route to winning in blowout fashion in the NFC Championship.

So do either of these teams truly deserve it? Does it matter? The Chiefs and the Eagles will be playing in Super Bowl 57 in Glendale, Arizona for all the marbles, regardless of the journey it took. That is the only thing that matters.

On paper this is one of the most evenly matched Super Bowls in recent memory, and it’s reflected in the point spread with the Eagles being 1.5-point favorites. It boils down, essentially, to the idea the Philadelphia is stacked at virtually every position on the football field, from offensive line to wide receiver to tight end to defensive line to secondary; they have few holes on their roster. And the Chiefs, meanwhile, seem to be at least average no matter where you look, only with the trump card being Patrick Mahomes — the best football player in the world.

In a contest dominated by storylines, from Mahomes and Jalen Hurts being the first duo of black quarterbacks to start against one another in Super Bowl history, to Travis and Jason Kelce being the first brothers to ever play one another in Super Bowl history, to Andy Reid playing his former team, I think my favorite bit of poetry is that the Chiefs were one of three teams who traded away their star wide receiver (Tyreek Hill), and the Eagles were one of the three teams who acquired a star receiver (A.J. Brown) in one of the wildest NFL off-seasons as far as trades go.

There are basically only two roads to winning a Super Bowl: you either have a Hall-of-Fame quarterback like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, or you have a guy playing on a rookie contract (like Jalen Hurts) such that the franchise can load up on talent all around him. When Patrick Mahomes won his first Super Bowl he was playing on a rookie deal, which afforded Kansas City the ability to pay guys like Sammy Watkins, and Tyrann Mathieu, and Frank Clark and Tyreek Hill, but this time around Mahomes is on the other side of the equation. Pretty much the only players who are making any kind of serious money on the roster — besides the QB — are DT Chris Jones, TE Travis Kelce, LG Joe Thuney and LT Orlando Brown (who is playing on the franchise tag). The rest of the roster is constructed with rookies, guys playing on their rookie contracts, and cheap free agents.

So that is effectively the Super Bowl matchup: the strength of an entire roster versus the magic of Mahomes. I of course would not argue that Patrick Mahomes alone will be responsible for the Chiefs winning, as it does take everybody, I’m just saying the Eagles have multiple paths to winning this game and Kansas City’s only road will be determined by how well Patrick plays. If he doesn’t have at least a B-average or B-plus performance, then the Chiefs will very likely be doomed to losing their second Super Bowl in three tries since he took over five years ago.

That’s part of what makes this the ultimate legacy game for Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid, and it’s why I can’t picture it in my mind as anything other than a Kansas City Chiefs victory next Sunday evening.

Before anything else, let us consider Andy Reid’s perspective on this: he was fired from the Eagles in 2012 because despite winning double-digit games seemingly every year and winning divisions and winning in the playoffs, he made only one Super Bowl and lost it against the Patriots. He was sort of typecast as a coach who Couldn’t Win The Big One. And since the Eagles got rid of him they have not only won a Super Bowl (in 2017), but they are on the verge of doing it for a second time with a second head coach and a second quarterback. I have a feeling Andy Reid can’t stand for that.

And for Mahomes’s sake, yes he has been on an incredible run to start his career. As I have laid out a million times, in five years of starting he has played at home in five AFC Championship games, now made three Super Bowls, and won one. If he should lose this one it would make him 1-2 in such games, and the whispers would begin to increase in volume that maybe he is not a big game quarterback and merely just the product of splash plays and huge numbers.

Anyone who knows or follows the Chiefs knows that to be a bullshit label to give the best player in the sport, but the media does what they do and part of Mahomes’s brilliance is using everything at his disposal for motivation. Bad ankle and all — we’ll see what it looks like in a few days after having two weeks to heal — I can see no other way than him going out and showing the world that now that Tom Brady is retired this is his league now. The dynasty we all envisioned did not die with the Bucs Super Bowl win, or the Bengals comeback win a season ago. It’s still the Chiefs. It’s always been the Chiefs.

Far be it for me to try and predict the X’s and O’s of a football game between the two number one seeds, but my gut instinct tells me whichever of these teams produces a double-digit lead first is going to win. Should it be the Eagles, they will be able to utilize their greatest strength — the offensive line — and use their power running game to wear down a Chiefs team that is frankly not built to stop it over multiple quarters. Should it be the Chiefs, what with Patrick Mahomes playing quarterback, it would not only leverage their ability to move the chains on short passes, but it would force the Eagles to do what they would rather not, and have Jalen Hurts (who has been dealing with a shoulder injury) to pass them back into the game against a Chiefs defense that would much prefer to pin their ears back and blitz the everliving shit out of the opposing quarterback.

It’s a simpleton approach to projecting a football game, as the team who generates a double-digit lead usually wins, anyway, but given the strengths of these two teams — which are abundant — I see it as the likeliest outcome. I think that, specifically, Kansas City’s only way out is to start fast, to put up touchdowns on their first couple drives and goad the Eagles into keeping up. If Mahomes is in a 14-3 hole and the Philadelphia pass rush is engaged, and their deep and experiences secondary can hunt for turnovers, there is a very real scenario where the Chiefs are buried much like they were against the Buccaneers a couple years ago.

Again, I can’t picture it, but it’s out there. One of my main sticking points into why I believe in Kansas City so much in this spot is specifically because they remember what it’s like. They remember what it’s like to be here, and what it’s like to get absolutely destroyed. It was embarrassing. When I think of all-time greats like Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, I think about how much they have been preparing for this exact moment to atone for what has already transpired.

That type of adversity cannot be overstated, or overlooked. The Eagles are a great football team and a win against the Chiefs in the Super Bowl would certainly make them worthy of being champions. I just don’t think they have gone through as much as Kansas City has been through, not only this year but in the last handful. The Chiefs were built for moments like these, they expect to be in moments like these, and they have been on a two-year odyssey where they have had to figure out who they were, again, traded away Tyreek Hill and had to evolve even more. I think they are stronger now than they have ever been.

And this is how I feel. I am a Chiefs fan, obviously, so I see things very clearly from their perspective. They lost a Super Bowl against the Bucs because they had a makeshift offensive line. They spent the subsequent offseason fixing that. They traded away Tyreek Hill and replaced him with a legitimate corp of receivers, and they have gone through the 2022 season figuring out how to deploy them. This group are not bulletproof, but they have entered into glorious combat together and found out who they were all about and had to do it against a conference that featured Josh Allen and the Bills, Joe Burrow and the Bengals, Justin Herbert and the Chargers; they have seen it all.

The Eagles will be a different beast altogether, but it’s a test they can manage because of everything they have been through. Before the season I was willing to stake my claim on Patrick Mahomes, the MVP of the NFL, in part because of blind faith but more than anything because he has proven it every single time he has had a chance. I don’t think he is going to accept going 1-2 in the Super Bowl. I don’t think he is going to allow his coach to lose to his former team in ironic fashion. I think Kansas City is ready to show the world what they are made of.

Score prediction:

Chiefs 31, Eagles 17

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