By Connor Donald, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
The Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs have met eight times. The current matchup record is 4-4 with the Chiefs winning the last two straight.
What to know about the Chiefs:
The Kansas City Chiefs 1-2 start is very unexpected, which makes this whole game even scarier to think about. The Chiefs offense currently ranks 5th in points scored and 6th in total yards. The defense on the other hand is almost the complete opposite. The Chiefs defense has given up the 2nd most points against and 3rd most total yards against.
The offense is still explosive as ever with Patty Mahomes leading the Chiefs offense to the 5th most passing yards and 2nd most touchdowns. Half of their offensive drives have ended in a score. The remade offensive line has also been fairly effective ranking 9th in pass blocking efficiency. Lucky for the Eagles after last week, the ground game has been fairly pedestrian. Despite Clyde Edwards-Helaire's first 100 yard game of the season last week, that game also produced There is no reason to believe the Chiefs can't keep this pace up against an Eagles defense that's very meh.
Defensively the Chiefs are struggling. They are allowing a score on 50% of their opponents offensive drives. They rank 2nd last against the run and 9th worst against the pass in yards allowed. They also rank 12th worst in regards to pressure % against opponents quarterbacks, including only four sacks on the season. Despite the sheer volume of yardage they are giving up they do rank 11th in forced turnovers with four. So it's not all doom and gloom. If the defense can settle down, stop giving up big yardage on each drive and apply pressure against the quarterback, things could turn around quickly.
Player to Watch:
The offense is high octane and there are so many weapons to think about. I'm going with Travis Kelce because we all know where the Eagles' Achilles heel lies. Their linebackers room. Sure the Eagles shut down George Kittle and Kyle Pitts, but they got run over by Dalton Schultz last week. Kellen Moore saw the opportunity and splashed, targeting Schultz seven times, leading to six receptions, 80 yards and two touchdowns. Travis Kelce is the top tight end in football facing arguably one of the weakest linebacking rooms in coverage. The two high safety looks Gannon loves so much will maybe help more this week than it did last week. However, Mahomes and Kelce have a chance to really exploit this weakness.
What to know about the Eagles:
Defensively if you looked where they sit overall across the league, the Eagles defense doesn't read so bad. However, a couple games against lackluster offenses in weeks one and two may have skewed the truth about this defense. Gannons unwillingness to adjust from his two high safety looks allowed the Cowboys to abuse the Eagles in the middle of the field. Chunk play, after chunk play for running backs and tight ends from opening kickoff until the final whistle. Javon Hargrave has been the MVP of the Eagles in the early going and it isn’t even close. Rodney McLeod will return this week to help a safety room that lost K’Von Wallace last week. The Eagles defense is definitely missing Brandon Graham on the edge as well. Derek Barnett and his senseless penalties and lack of pressure is causing headaches all around.
Offensively, well it has been non-existent over the last two weeks after the week one showing against the Atlanta Falcons. Miles Sanders, who was my player to watch last week, was non-existent in the game plan. So bad in fact, that the two running backs combined for three total carries. The combination of Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell looked so good in week one and then in week two saw 19 combined carries and produced 69 yards, 3.6 yards per carry. The run game needs to be used more to help control time of possession and the flow of the game. The Chiefs defense as a whole has been, not great. and the loss of Frank Clark for Sundays game should help Hurts, the offensive line and the running backs.
Speaking of Hurts, he has suffered through some tough criticism of being a one read quarterback. This has made the overall passing game suffer and he has notoriously bailed on the pass often to tuck and run. The Chiefs are giving up significant points and yards. Which includes the sixth most yards to tight ends. The tandem of Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz have been there, but frustratingly not enough and this could be a chance for Hurts to leverage the duo. Devonta Smith should continue to see his fair share of work and Reagor as well. A surprisingly efficient wide receiver who should see more work is Quez Watkins. He has an NFL leading and whopping 26.6 yards per reception, seven receptions for 186 yards total on the season. Oh and a 100% catch rate. Despite a lot of this work coming in the screen game, he opens a field up with his speed and ability to turn a screen into over 20 yards.
Player to Watch:
As I mentioned above the Chiefs will be without edge Frank Clark, which is a significant loss and point of pressure for the Chiefs defensive line. The Eagles will be rolling out their fourth starting offensive line combination in four weeks, nightmares of last year taking over my good night's sleep. The loss of Clark is a sigh of relief for this offensive line and should really keep Hurts from being under duress too much. Hopefully he can have faith in his offensive line, take time to go through his reads and be comfortable in the pocket. This should also give Sirianni the confidence to roll out his backfield tandem a little more than three times. The Chiefs defensive line beyond Chris Jones and Frank Clark isn’t putting too much fear in any team. Let's hope this turns into a positive for the Eagles offensive line.
I still have an overall bad feeling about this. The Chiefs are angry and looking to get on the right track this Sunday. I am going to go with a 34-21 final score in favour of the visiting Chiefs. Sure, the Linc will be rocking for Andy Reid's return, Lesean McCoy’s retirement and the prospect of having the Chiefs visit and the potential to beat them. Based on the last two weeks I cannot, with confidence, predict an Eagles win against a Chiefs team whose bound to right this ship and without mercy.