After 21 weeks of NFL football, the matchup for the big game has finally been settled – the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles are set to duke it out on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona, for the right to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Both the Chiefs and the Eagles have won a Super Bowl in recent memory – the Chiefs in 2020 and the Eagles in 2017. The makeup of the Chiefs team remains largely the same now as it was then – led by coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
However, the Eagles, save a few constants, have changed almost completely since their run to the Super Bowl in 2017. For starters, the quarterback and coach have both changed. In 2017, they were led by coach Doug Pederson and quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Nick Foles. Today, coach Nick Sirianni and quarterback Jalen Hurts are the key cogs behind Philly’s success.
It’s easy to attribute the success of a team to the coach and quarterback exclusively. In truth, however, Philadelphia is simply a well-constructed roster. With All-Pros in nearly every position group, the Eagles, led by general manager Howie Roseman, are the class of the league in how to build a roster.
With that said, the success of the Chiefs can be attributed almost entirely to one man – Patrick Mahomes. Yes, it’s true that the Chiefs have Travis Kelce, arguably the greatest tight end of all time. Yes, it’s true that the Chiefs have Chris Jones, who many argue should be Defensive Player of the Year. But it is an unquestionable fact that if the Chiefs had any other quarterback playing in the NFL today, going to three Super Bowls in four years would be an impossibility.
Down his top three wide receivers and on an ankle that he could barely run with, Mahomes willed his team to a 23-20 AFC Championship win in an instant classic against rival Cincinnati Bengals. On 3rd and 4, tied 20-20 with 17 seconds left, Mahomes superhumanly scrambled on one good leg for five yards while in the process drawing a 15-yard penalty on Bengals’ defensive end Joseph Ossai, setting up a game-winning 45-yard field goal by Harrison Butker to send the Chiefs to the Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, in the NFC, the Eagles had no such difficulties. Early in their matchup against the San Francisco 49ers, Hassan Reddick disrupted 49ers QB Brock Purdy’s pass attempt, leading to a fumble which the Eagles recovered.
More importantly, however, Purdy, the odds-defying 49ers rookie, going from the last pick in the draft to starting quarterback in the NFC Championship, was hurt on the play. The 49ers were forced to turn to their fourth-string quarterback Josh Johnson, and the game was essentially over. The Eagles did not treat it that way, though – they continued to play their brand of football and convincingly prevailed 31-7 to send them to their second Super Bowl in six years.
The matchup between the Chiefs and Eagles is interesting on many fronts. Firstly, the teams have a great deal of connective tissue between them. Before Andy Reid was the head coach of the Chiefs, he coached the Eagles for 13 years, leading them to five conference championships and one Super Bowl appearance. Despite becoming an Eagles legend, he never managed to secure that elusive championship for the city of Philadelphia.
Regardless, as a result of this connection, some have dubbed this Super Bowl the “Andy Reid Bowl.” Additionally, however, many others have dubbed it the “Kelce Bowl,” as brother Travis Kelce, the Chiefs’ star tight end, and Jason Kelce, the Eagles’ All-Pro center, will be facing off in the big game, marking the first time brothers have ever played each other in the Super Bowl.
When asked about what it meant to him during a press conference, Travis Kelce simply said, “My mom can’t lose.”
The matchup is interesting for purely football reasons as well. It is perhaps the starkest contrast we’ve seen in a game of this magnitude between what is perceived as a less talented roster constructed around its star quarterback on a big money contract like the Chiefs and a more talented roster constructed around a less talented quarterback on a smaller contract like the Eagles.
It is also a stark contrast in styles – the Chiefs prefer to air the ball out, throwing it 40-50 times a game, while the Eagles employ a devastating rushing attack led by their quarterback Jalen Hurts.
This Super Bowl also marks the first time two black quarterbacks have faced off in the world championship game. When asked about what it meant, Patrick Mahomes said, “I think it’s special.”
“The guys that came before me and Jalen set the stage for this, and now, I’m just glad that we can kind of set the stage for guys that are kids that are coming up now,” Mahomes said.