The buildup to Super Bowl LVII couldn’t be bigger. The Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs: two teams filled with historical heartbreak only to end their curses in recent years are meeting for all the marbles in a little over a week.
Breaking down the two teams is a challenge. The Super Bowl houses two teams that were built differently, but have common principles and objectives throughout the season.
Yet as we get closer to the NFL’s biggest stage, it’s time to take a closer look at how both teams got here, and how either team could be crowned champions of the latest Super Bowl.
When the Super Bowl was first created in 1966, the Chiefs were the first team to take part in the game, winning the AFL championship. Their subsequent 35-10 beatdown by Lombardi’s Packers though left a lot on the table though when it came to the AFL’s competition with the superior NFL. Kansas City would get its shot though just three years later. Defeating the heavily-favored Minnesota Vikings, the ’69 Chiefs are considered one of the greatest teams in history, while their defense has generated world renown.
After their first Super Bowl title though, Kansas City won just one playoff game until Joe Montana entered the fold in the early 90s. Even so, the Chiefs struggled to build a consistent winner. Over the next 30 years, the Chiefs won a combined four playoff victories until Andy Reid entered the fold in 2013.
Reid’s firing in Philadelphia was a clear demarcation point in Chief’s history. Kansas City has been to the playoffs for 10 of the 11 years under Reid and has become an NFL power again. The emergence of Patrick Mahomes as the top quarterback in football has ultimately changed the entire team’s fortune with a win in Super Bowl LIV and another appearance just a year later.
Back in the Super Bowl for a third time in four seasons, the Chiefs are experienced in this game and ready to try and win their third in franchise history.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, was in a much different boat than the Chiefs. Since their NFL Championship win in 1960, it took over 50 years for the team to win another title. That doesn’t mean they weren’t close though. Philadelphia made the Super Bowl in 1980, and made multiple playoff appearances in the 70s and 90s but couldn’t get over the hump. Andy Reid’s arrival in 1999 helped turn the tide of the franchise just as he would later do in Kansas City. The Eagles went to five conference championships and a Super Bowl in Reid’s 12 years. But after his offense got stale, the Eagles and their winningest coach parted ways for good.
Chip Kelly would follow and implode a talented team that showed the Eagles needed to go back to Reid’s personal roots. Doug Pederson entered the fray and in two years won the franchise’s first Super Bowl title and fourth NFL championship. After the win though the Eagles were plagued with mediocrity. Only a 4-11-1 season would spell the end of Pederson’s tenure and bring in the arrival of Nick Sirianni and Jalen Hurts.
With Hurts and Sirianni now at the helm, and a strong offseason group of talent, the Eagles believe they own the closest blueprint to how to build sustained championship winners.
We’ll see who was right on Sunday. Now that we know the history centering the two teams, let’s look at who has the ultimate edge in the ultimate game.
Patrick Mahomes is on pace to win his second MVP award since being drafted by the Chiefs in 2017. Add in the brilliance of Travis Kelce and a plethora of wide receivers that offer unique challenges to any defensive mind, and the Chief’s offense is as dangerous as it ever has been. Their offensive line has improved from their Super Bowl loss two years ago and the minds of Andy Reid, Eric Bienemy, and Matt Nagy offer an almost unstoppable force on gameday.
But when we talk about unstoppable forces, perhaps no group is as dominant as the Eagle’s offensive line. Stacked with two hall-of-famers in Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson, two all-pro players in Landon Dickerson and Isaac Seumalo, an Aussie athletic fiend in Jordan Mailata, and the Eagles’ strength comes through the trenches. The trade for AJ Brown jumpstarted the offense, but it paled in comparison to the growth of Jalen Hurts. The second-round pick in 2020 put up career highs in completion percentage, yards, and touchdowns while helping the Eagle’s offense set franchise records for wins, yards, and points.
Mahomes and Kelce may have the edge at their respective positions, while Philadelphia’s strength comes from the offensive line, but it’s on the defensive end that will decide Super Bowl LVII.
The trade of Tyreek Hill was believed to be focused on the Chief’s offense, but people didn’t realize that it actually helped their defense. Tasked with more picks from the trade, and more resources in cap space, Kansas City’s defensive unit has become a top group in the game. They’ve held Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence to just 20 points each in two playoff wins while confusing both quarterbacks. Chris Jones is playing the best football of his career as well. Mahomes may get all the credit, but Kansas City is playing in this year’s Super Bowl because their defense has been lights out all year.
Speaking of dominance, Jonathan Gannon’s unit in Philadelphia has been absurd all playoffs. Going up against the dominant 49ers and “red-hot” Giants, Gannon’s unit held both teams to seven points and close to just 200 yards of offense. The Eagles have a +55 in the playoffs, the highest since the 1989 49ers. Their pass rush is led by a dynamo of athletes with four of them totaling over 10 sacks this season (an NFL record). Add in a secondary filled with playmakers like Darius Slay, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, and James Bradberry, and the Eagle’s defense is arguably the greatest in franchise history.
But neither defense has seen offenses like they are about to face. How Steve Spagnolo and Gannon respond to both high-powered units could very well turn the tide in Super Bowl LVII.
Andy Reid against his former team. The Kelce Brothers facing off. The two finalists for MVP. The storylines for Super Bowl VII are going to be talked about non-stop over the next week and a half. Both teams have edges over the other in key spots and will look to exploit their opponent’s weaknesses.
Whichever team is able to do so though will ultimately end up winning the Super Bowl and writing their names in the history books as completing one of the most dominant seasons in league history.