Updated: Feb 12
22 weeks and 556 games down since the NFL season started months ago, and now just one game remains to crown the champion of this season, in Super Bowl 57. While one team sweated out its win, while the other walked to a victory during championship weekend, they both got here. The Philadelphia Eagles, who coasted to a 31-7 win over the San Fransisco 49ers, face old friend Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs, who needed a last second field goal to get by the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20, last Sunday.
Coach Reid facing off against his old team, which he was the head coach of for 14 years, isn't the only big storyline entering the week. Another big talking point, as the teams prep to face off in Arizona on Sunday, is the Kelce brothers facing off. Before diving further into that, let's dive into the biggest storylines from media week and then go into position battles of the game itself. We will finish this Super Bowl 57 preview with a full prediction and betting odds.
No Time for Reminiscing
Coach Reid gave (and meant) everything to the Eagles' organization and their fans for the 14 long years he was their leader. It may not have led to the ultimate goal of a Super Bowl championship for the head coach and the Birds, but those years still meant a whole lot to the city. The California native led the Eagles to a 224-130 regular season record and a 10-9 postseason record, which included a trip to Super Bowl 39 following the 2004 season. Philadelphia dropped that Super Bowl to Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the New England Patriots. Reid has a lot to do with where the Eagles are today as he turned the franchise around into a perennial contender when he took them over.
Even though he was long gone from the team after getting fired following the 2012 season, he certainly had a hand in the Eagles winning their first Super Bowl in 2018. Doug Pederson came from the Andy Reid coaching tree and despite the bitter end to his tenure, was a great head coach. For Reid, though, he is uber-focused on the gameplan and not reminiscing on past times with his old team.
“I think, when you really cut to the chase on it, [the Eagles are] a really good football team and so, I think that’s where the energy goes because really when it’s kickoff, you’re playing that team,” Reid said. “It’s the players that you’re going against and the coaches and so the uniform, (and) all that’s not where your mind’s at. Your minds at making sure you have a solid game plan and that you come out and you can perform to the best of our ability. That’s I think where the major focus goes, and you try to—it doesn’t matter who you’re playing you try to blank out all the hype that goes with the game. It’s a pretty big game for everybody, you guys included, it’s a big, big deal. It’s the Super Bowl. But you try to blank that out and make sure that you’re getting the game plan—what really matters—together.”
So when it comes down to it, both teams will be focus on what is in front of them, and not on old time's sake. That is true for veteran Eagles players who played under Reid, in Jason Kelce, Fletcher Cox, and Brandon Graham. While they were likely give him a big hug when they see him before the game, they won't let anything distract them from beating him. Big Red has his former team's number as he is 3-0 against them in his career. But no game has been bigger than this one, of course.
Jason and Travis Kelce grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio and they both attended the University of Cincinnati. While they each had dreams of also playing for the same pro football team, Jason was drafted to the Eagles by Coach Reid in 2011 before Travis was drafted to the Chiefs in 2013 - the same year Reid took over. They aren't playing with each other, although Travis almost went to the Eagles but Philly took Zach Ertz instead. The Eagles took Ertz in the second round at 35 overall, while Travis didn't go until the third round at 63 overall. While Ertz had a big piece in the Eagles winning their first Super Bowl, it would have been cool to see the two brothers once again play on the same team. Travis shared his thoughts on the matter on the duo's podcast "New Heights" earlier this season.
"Has playing together ever been a thought in our heads? Has it ever been close?" Travis asked rhetorically on the podcast. "Me, personally, I think the closest it was ever going to be in the NFL was the 2013 Draft, where the Eagles took Zach Ertz over me. I was butt hurt about it. I'm still butt hurt about it."
"I think we were both upset on draft night when that happened," Jason said, agreeing with Travis. "But I think you would probably agree that things have worked out decent in Kansas City for you."
But they get the second-best option, playing against each other in the ultimate game. Jason had to wait until the sixth round to get drafted in 2011, but won the starting job at center his rookie year and started all 16 games. Both will likely wind up being enshrined in Canton, Ohio at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This game will be for the ultimate bragging rights as they have each won a Super Bowl.
There have been a handful of brothers that have played in the NFL - the Mannings, the Watts, the Barbers - but none of them have faced off in the Super Bowl. The closest we have gotten to this scenario was the Harbaugh brothers - Jim and John - coaching against each other in Super Bowl 47.
Rigged Bowl? No, These Are Just the Two Best Teams in the NFL
There has been a lot of talk - and perhaps some half-joking talk - that this season's ultimate end is rigged. The fact that the Kelce bros are facing off and Coach Reid facing his old team is why people are saying someone rigged it to get here. But the fact of the matter is that these two teams have been truly the best teams all season. Travis and Jason joked about this sentiment on their podcast, but don't really care whether it's rigged or not. All that matters is that they get to play in the Super Bowl. Philadelphia only lost one game all season when Jalen Hurts was playing - and they had six total turnovers in that game.
The Eagles were unequivocally the best overall team in the NFL all season, only losing when they beat themselves. Their pass rush is very formidable and overall, their defense allowed the second-fewest yards in the NFL all season. Hurts vastly improved this year, especially in the passing game, with the benefit of a stud addition to the receiving corp in A.J. Brown and a virtually immovable object in the offensive line that is blocking for him. Kansas City had the number one offense this season, recording the most points scored and yards gained in the regular season while their offensive expected points added per play, 0.17, was almost double the second-place team. Their defense also showed improvement, led by All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones. It's hard to ignore that these two teams have been on a collision course all season.
Andy Reid vs. Nick Sirianni
This is a very interesting coaching matchup, pitting a 24-year head coaching veteran against a young coach in just his second season at the helm. Sirianni, just like his predecessor in Pederson, has made the Super Bowl in his second season as head coach of the Eagles. Reid has now made the Super Bowl four times, including winning it all in 2019. He has a 21-16 postseason record and certainly has the experience over Sirianni. The Eagles' current head coach does have a more loaded roster from top-to-bottom and is now 2-1 in his postseason career. Reid's time management has been put in question frequently, but it has gotten better over the years. On the other hand, Sirianni has shown tremendous time management so far in his coaching career. Since heading to Kansas City, Reid has posted a 117-45 record while the Chiefs have missed the postseason just once in 10 years. The 61-year-old coach is now the fifth head coach in history to face his former team in the Super Bowl. He joins New York Jets’ Weeb Ewbank (Colts), Seattle Seahawks' Pete Carroll (Patriots), Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Jon Gruden (Raiders), and Atlanta Falcons' Dan Reeves (Broncos).
These two coaches only faced off one previous time, in 2021, when the Chiefs won 42-30 in a very evenly-matched contest. Kansas City converted one more first down (31) than the Eagles (30), and only gained 10 yards more in total offense, 471-461. Only eight seconds separated the teams in time of possession. What really hurt the Eagles was that Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs converted 9 of 10 third downs, while the Eagles only converted 6 of 12. The Eagles also beat themselves with nine total penalties that day. That was a long time ago and with the stakes much lower, with the game played in October. The Chiefs are nearly the same team, except minus a big piece in Tyreek Hill. The Eagles have vastly improved on both sides of the ball from a season ago and the two teams are more evenly matched. Sirianni goes against the grain, and like Coach Pederson in his Super Bowl, makes a ton of ballsy moves. If the roll of the dice plays pay off more than not in the big game, the end result will lean in favor of the Birds. While Sirianni is unpredictable, Reid's tendencies and situational calls are known. As long as the former stays aggressive and doesn't go conservative with a lead, the Eagles will have a leg up.
Eagles' Pass Rush vs. Chiefs Offensive Line/Patrick Mahomes
As the famous saying goes, football games are won and lost in the trenches, which is even more so the case in the biggest game of the year. The aforementioned Philadelphia pass rush is super imposing and they sacked the quarterback on 11.5 percent of their plays (78 sacks), the highest percentage in decades. That pass rush is led by the nearly impossible-to-block Haason Reddick, who was somehow not a Defensive Player of the Year finalist.
There is no one better in the league at getting to the quarterback than the hybrid linebacker, who shed his blocker with ease against the 49ers to get to Brock Purdy and strip the ball which also forced Purdy out of the game. On the other hand, Purdy can't hold Patrick Mahomes' jockstrap. The Chiefs' quarterback just won his second MVP in his fifth year as the starter and is better than anyone at escaping the pocket and avoiding sacks. He is a genius at making things up on the fly when the original play breaks down. The Kansas City offensive line has a lot on its plate with the Eagles front, a force they haven't seen all season. Their tackles in Orlando Brown and Andrew Wylie have struggled at times this season and will have trouble blocking Reddick, Javon Hargrave, Josh Sweat, and Brandon Graham - a unit that recorded the third most sacks in any season ever.
The Chiefs haven't faced a pass rush like the Eagles' this season and the Eagles haven't faced a quarterback like Mahomes; neither comes close to what each has faced. The former Texas Tech quarterback has had two weeks for his high ankle sprain to heal and will be as close to his best as possible. Even less than 100 percent Mahomes is better than more than half the quarterbacks in the league. The Eagles shouldn't be too aggressive on defense behind the Jonathan Gannon schemes, as blitzing Mahomes will just lead to big plays. You want to play the best in your path to winning it all, and in this case both teams are getting just that.
Eagles' Receivers vs. Chiefs Secondary
With the addition of Brown, the Eagles created one of the best receiving duos in the league - DeVonta Smith being his partner in crime. The pair was the first Eagles receiver duo to record 1,000 yards each over a season. They, in addition to Quez Watkins and tight end Dallas Goedert are not a great matchup for the young Kansas City secondary. They have four rookies playing in their secondary - corners Trent McDuffie, Joshua Williams, and Jaylen Watson, and strong safety Bryan Cook. Although, they haven't exactly played like rookies at this point. Overall, the Chiefs' pass defense had a shaky year as they ranked 20th in defensive value on average (DVOA). Watson in particular was getting burnt early in the season. But they have been getting better in every game, including the postseason, since Week 16. They allowed 205 passing yards in the divisional round against the Jaguars while Watson recorded an interception, and they allowed 238 passing yards in the AFC Championship against the Bengals while Watson and Williams each had an interception. McDuffie suffered through an early-season hamstring injury, but once he returned the pass defense saw a spark. The first-round pick from Washington plays quality coverage in the slot and on the perimeter. He will have a big test in his tackling ability with the Eagles' outside runs and RPOs that are a big part of their offense. Third-year cornerback L'Jarius Sneed should be good to go despite showing up on the injury report on Thursday with a limited designation due to a knee injury. He cleared concussion protocol prior to Super Bowl practice week. The Eagles have such a well-balanced offense that will create so many problems for a young secondary. One of those aforementioned will have to be on Brown and then there isn't much of a drop-off to Smith. That's without even mentioning what Goedert brings to the table. The tight end is essentially a safety blanket and just another threat for the defense to worry about.
Jalen Hurts vs. Chiefs Front Seven
An MVP-caliber player in his own right, Hurts can throw the whole kitchen sink at a defense. His passing ability vastly improved this season which makes him unpredictable and tough to spot. Like mentioned earlier, the Eagles play a lot of the RPO game - or really the RPRO game. That being the run pass run option. Hurts can either hand the ball off, pass it, or keep it himself and run. When the defense goes all out for the run or all out for the pass, it's almost impossible to stop Hurts and whatever he does.
The Eagles are also virtually unstoppable on short-yardage situations - such as third and fourth-and-short. The play that everyone sees coming, but no one can stop comes in those situations, the quarterback sneak. The play has been 92 percent effective this season and can't really be called the "sneak" anymore, more so a push. That is a testament to how strong the Philadelphia offensive line is, as they can push Hurts forward with ease. The Chiefs version of Reddick, Chris Jones is playing the best football of his career at 28 years old. Against Cincinnati in the AFC Championship, he recorded two sacks, three tackles for loss, and five quarterback hits. He will be the toughest guy on the front seven to stop and for Hurts to avoid. But other than that, the Eagles have the advantage here.
Travis Kelce vs. Eagles
A safety blanket for Mahomes, Kelce is one of, if not the, best tight ends in the league. Shutting him down in this game will be a huge key for the Eagles in winning. If the Eagles can make the younger Kelce brother almost a non-factor, they will be in good shape as the receiving corp isn't too strong. The Eagles would be smart to double-team Kelce and do their best to just take them out of the game. Mahomes and Kelce are probably the best tandem in the league and the latter is having one of the best seasons for a tight end. He set personal records for receptions (110) and touchdowns (12) and logged his second-most receiving yards (1,338). In the Chiefs' two playoff games, Kelce has a combined 21 catches for 176 yards and three scores. The Eagles' defense will have its hands full trying to slow Travis down for 60 minutes. But doubling him will be smart, especially without Hill to account for. In the 2021 game, Philly held Kelce to just four catches for 23 yards but Hill torched them for three touchdowns. With Hill gone, Kansas City has no receivers that strike nearly as much fear as he did. The Eagles have done a good job against tight ends, including containing San Francisco’s George Kittle two weeks ago. The Eagles don't play too much man-coverage defense and Mahomes kills man-coverage. They will play plenty of zone, with cornerback James Bradberry and safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson helping out on stopping Kelce.
Super Bowl 57 Betting Odds
Points Spread: KC +1.5| PHI -1.5
Moneyline: KC (+104) | PHI (-122)
Over/Under: O 50.5 (-115) | U 50.5 (-105)
This game has the makings to be a Super Bowl for the ages and could easily turn into a shootout. While it could be a little more low-scoring, it is tough not to lean on the side of it hitting the over. It may barely hit the over, but I would certainly be more confident in that than rolling with the under. This game is hard to predict as it is truly the best two teams in the league this season. But with the Eagles being the more complete team overall, it's hard not to lean that way. Mahomes can win a big game by himself, but the Philly defense can wreak enough havoc to make that very difficult. This might very well be a similar Super Bowl to the one five years ago which the Eagles won. Like that game virtually ended with the Birds strip sacking Brady, it could be a big-time defensive play that seals the deal. Or perhaps a big play from either quarterback.
Super Bowl 57 Prop Bets
Chris Jones to Record a Sack (-118) Dallas Goedert over 49.5 Receiving Yards (-110)
Patrick Mahomes over 19.5 Rushing Yards (-104)
DeVonta Smith 76-100 Yards (+300)
Eagles 27, Chiefs 24
MVP: Jalen Hurts (+130)
Darkhorse MVP: Haason Reddick (+3400)
Image Credit: From USA Today