The Chiefs are heading to the desert next week to play the Eagles in the Super Bowl, Kansas City has played a lot of tough opponents all year, but the Eagles might be the most interesting challenge yet. The Eagles have been the best team in the NFC from the start of the season, they cruised through their division and destroyed their two NFC playoff opponents, only allowing 14 total points in both games. But let’s actually get to know how good the team actually is.
The Offensive Line is the Best in the League
The Eagles had to rebuild the offensive line after the Super Bowl win over the Patriots in 2018, there were losses in free agency and retirements of others, but they were able to keep two future Hall of Famers along the front. Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson have been constants on the Eagles for over a decade now and are the anchors to a dominant unit, both earned First-Team All-Pro nods this season, and rightfully so. Both Johnson and Kelce were the least penalized offensive linemen at their position and Johnson didn’t give up a sack in the regular season.
Philadelphia has the fifth-best rushing offense and 8th-best passing offense, they have the number two offense overall, mostly due to the success of the offensive line. They have had the best win rate of any line group and will be tough to stop them. But it does seem like they have one area in which they struggle in, pass protection. The sack rate for Jalen Hurts is fairly high for such a strong unit, but it’s mainly due to Jalen Hurts holding onto the football too long.
If the Chiefs win the game, they will have to find a way to force Jalen Hurts to hold onto the football too long and find a weakness in the offensive line, but that could be difficult when the Eagles are really good at the Run-Pass Option.
Jalen Hurts is Dangerous in the Run-Pass Option Game
The run-pass option or RPO is a concept that should be familiar to most in Chiefs’ Kingdom, the Chiefs have been running it for a long time. Patrick Mahomes is a master at running it. But the Eagles run it on a whole other level.
Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders are threats in the read-option game, and it leads to defenses inching up to the line on run plays, but since Hurts is such a threat to run, defenses might leave tight ends and slot wide receivers alone on blitzes. When Hurts reads this, he can throw out to the flat and give the offense some productive yards. Hurts has mastered this offensive playing style, and it has given a lot of defenses fits.
Hurts being a threat to run on almost every play gives the Eagles an edge, it might move a safety or linebacker to spy on him, leaving Devonta Smith alone on an island with a safety or nickel corner. If Hurts’ shoulder injury is better by the Super Bowl, watch for the Eagles to throw a lot out of RPOs more often than not, and if the Chiefs want to push the Eagles out of short-yardage on third and fourth down, they need to have an answer to the RPO.
The Eagles’ Defensive Line Causes Problems
The Eagles’ defensive line is the best in the league, they are also historically great. They are the third team in NFL history to reach 70 sacks as a team and they are deep across all of the positions. There were four players on the defensive line who got 11+ sacks and they rotate all of them through every game. They go at least three deep at all three positions, tackle, end, and edge, and all of them are used in specific ways and all of them love to get to the quarterback.
On the edge, they have Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, and Brandon Graham. Reddick and Sweat both have double-digit sack seasons and have been firmly planted into the nightmares of quarterbacks. Reddick, a native of Camden, New Jersey, and a born and raised Eagles fan has been making plays all season, forcing fumbles and making huge tackles on the edge. Josh Sweat is a tall and lanky defender who can swat balls out of the air. Brandon Graham is the burly vet, his prime years are over but he still can make plays when it matters.
On the inside at the tackle and end positions are Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, and Linval Joseph. Javon Hargrave has been a huge problem, he was the second-best defensive tackle in the league and will be a huge factor in the Super Bowl. Fletcher Cox is a little past his prime, but can still make huge plays when it matters. Linval Joseph is also a savvy vet who can make some plays but is mostly there for depth and consistency.
The Eagles Haven’t Had a Test in a Long Time
While gushing over the Eagles, it would be hard to remiss one thing, the Eagles haven’t had a huge test in a while. They’ve allowed 14 points in the playoffs so far, but it was mostly due to the ineffectiveness of the offenses they’ve faced. Daniel Jones reverted back to his old self against Philly, he forced throws and was intercepted multiple times. The Niners’ quarterbacks both got injured and didn’t attempt a pass in the second half. The defense has been incredible and should be not looked over due to the quality of the opponent, but they haven’t had the hardest schedule.
The best quarterbacks they’ve faced this season have been Kirk Cousins, Dan Prescott (post-injury), Daniel Jones, and Jared Goff. Not particularly a murderer’s row of QB talent and the best team by record was the Niners who were on their third quarterback. The best defense they faced all season was the Cowboys, and the offense was able to put up a lot of points on them without Jalen Hurts in the lineup. The Eagles are an efficient offense, but they have struggled since the injury to Jalen Hurts’ throwing shoulder. Hurts has been efficient at throwing the ball, but better at running the ball.
The Eagles have been impressive because they have executed their gameplay successfully and they have a lot of talent. Kansas City should not overlook their strength of schedule, the Eagles are a scary team, and they do a lot of things great, but the Chiefs played the toughest schedule in the league and in the playoffs. The Eagles are a really good team and this should be a really good game.
For more Chiefs news, analysis, and articles follow Arrowhead Live on Twitter or visit our website.