In about four hours from now, the Philadelphia Eagles will face the Kansas City Chiefs. After taking a close look at all the matches, this game is bound to be an exciting game. Before getting into all the matchups, I wanted to talk about the dynamic of Andy Reid and Doug Pederson. It will be an interesting game because the Eagles head coach began his coaching career under the tutelage of Andy Reid. As a result, Doug Pederson runs a similar west coast scheme, which he learned during his time under Andy Reid. Since Pederson is familiar with Andy’s play calling and Alex Smith’s tendencies, he can provide excellent insight for the Eagles’ defense. During Doug Pederson’s last press conference, he talked about how he has shared some of those tips with defensive coordinator.
Considering how Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill played during the first game of the season, the Eagles’ defense is going to need all the tips they can have. Due to the injury of Ronald Darby, the secondary is going to have their hands full in trying to stop the high octane offense of the Chiefs. To give perspective, I am going to recap what Kansas City was able to do against Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots at Foxboro.
- The Chiefs’ Kareem Hunt, after fumbling on his first NFL carry, scored three times and set an NFL mark with his 239 yards in his pro debut — a record since the 1970 merger.
- The Chiefs are the first AFC team to beat Super Bowl MVP quarterback Tom Brady at home (when he played the whole game) since the Jets in Week 10 of 2006.
- 42 points is the most points allowed by a Bill Belichick-coached Patriots team (307th game including playoffs).
- The Chiefs had just one offensive play go for over 75 yards last season. They have two touchdown passes of 75 yards against the Pats. Both were from QB Alex Smith, who had only thrown two of that distance in his entire career prior.
Some of these statistics show that Kansas City was able to dominate on the offensive side of the ball. This brings me to my first big matchup: the Eagles front seven versus Kareem Hunt and the Chiefs’ running attack. The Eagles played great against Washington, limiting Washington to 60 rushing yards. Nevertheless, the concern for the Eagles should be Kareem Hunt coming out of the backfield for a pass play. During these plays, one of the Eagles linebackers will need to step up and keep up with the speedy Hunt. If the Eagles are able to contain Hunt in the box and when he lines up for the pass game, they will certainly have success.
Next, I want to talk about the Eagles defensive line and the Chiefs offensive line. During the game against the Patriots, Alex Smith had a lot of time to be able to make the correct read. As a result, he threw for more than 300 yards and had 4 touchdowns. In order for the Eagles to be successful today, they will need to be able to put pressure on Alex Smith. During their game against the Redskins, they put constant pressure on Kirk Cousins, never allowing him to find his rhythm If they are able to do something similar today, it is the only way they are going to win the game today. Kansas City has too many options that if Alex Smith is able to get comfortable, they there is a marginal chance of winning today.
I wanted to talk about the injury of Eric Berry and what that means for the Eagles. Terrance Mitchell will fill the void of Eric Berry. Therefore, I expect our Tight Ends to have a big game. I expect Zach Ertz to have a big game similar to that of his first game. Also, I think this opens up the downfield plays for Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery. In Alshon’s second game as an Eagle, I would like to see Doug have several more plays for the mega wide receiver to get into rhythm from the beginning.
In a game where the Eagles are the clear underdogs, it is important for them to be conservative in play calling at the beginning. They need to establish the run game with Legarrette Blount. I have been disappointed with how Doug has chosen to use him thus far. He is at his best as a downhill running, so Doug needs to make sure that he has play calls to set him up. During this game, I would also like to see a bit more of Darren Sproles. Last game the Eagles chose to pass the football a lot more than expected, making it obvious when they were running it. They need to have a more balanced attack. If Doug Pederson is able to have a good game plan to integrate Blount and Sproles into the game early along with easy receptions for Alshon Jeffery, the Eagles will be in a great position to have a shot in the game. Yes, that statement may seem very discouraging. But, we cannot get caught up into the X’s and O’s because in the bigger picture it is clear that the Chiefs are the significantly better team. I cannot wait for kickoff! I am predicting that it will be 30 – 17 Chiefs.