Chiefs vs. Eagles: Super Bowl LVII Preview

Eagles QB Jalen Hurts and Chiefs DT Derrick Nnadi
Eagles QB Jalen Hurts and Chiefs DT Derrick Nnadi
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Super Bowl - PHOENIX - Perhaps you have heard this already, but Super Bowl LVII is a very close matchup.

It's not really impressive to say that Super Bowl LVII is the closest matchup since whatever Super Bowl was last this close, because we've had a lot of these close Super Bowls lately. The current line is Eagles -1.5. Super Bowl LIV three years ago closed with a similar line, Chiefs -1.5. Just a few years before that, the last time we were here in Phoenix, Super Bowl XLIX closed as a Pick 'Em between the Patriots and Seahawks. So it's not the closest matchup in a long time, but it's a very close matchup.

A lot of the talk around Phoenix has been about how the Eagles have a better roster than the Chiefs overall. As Eric Eager mentioned on Twitter earlier this week, it's been a bit overstated. The joke we've been using is that the Chiefs have the best three players in the game -- Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Chris Jones -- and then the Eagles have players 4 to 30. It's a fun line and a bit of an exaggeration. The Eagles have the best offensive line in the league but the Chiefs line may be second behind them. The Chiefs wide receivers are not as good as A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, but they're good. The Chiefs cornerbacks are not as good as Darius Slay and James Bradberry, but they're good, especially the rookie Trent McDuffie. The Chiefs may be better at linebacker... although not in pass coverage, as you will see below. Punter is just punter, but the Chiefs have an All-Pro punter.

Then there's the battle between the coaches. Both Nick Sirianni and Andy Reid were Coach of the Year candidates in a year where there were a lot of Coach of the Year candidates. Sirianni and Reid have very different strengths as head coaches. Sirianni is lauded by the analytics community for his in-game decision-making. He led the NFL in Aggressiveness Index this year at 1.57, meaning that he was 57% more likely to go for it than the average coach in similar situations. Reid was 22nd at 0.83. (These numbers are based on our recalibrated AI baselines from last year.) On the other hand, Reid is treasured for his ability to game plan and prepare for opponents. Reid famously has a fantastic record after a bye week, 28-4 including the divisional round win over the Jaguars. I don't remember where I read this first, but the extra week off before the Super Bowl definitely emphasizes the best things about Reid as a head coach rather than the best things about Sirianni as a head coach.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the Football Outsiders stats, they are explained at the bottom of the page. Scroll down or click this link. Game charting data appears courtesy Sports Info Solutions, unless noted. All stats represent regular season only, except for weighted DVOA and anything else specifically noted.

DVOA 25.2% (3) 23.0% (4)
WEI DVOA 28.9% (5) 34.4% (2)
Eagles on Offense
DVOA 15.1% (3) 1.4% (17)
WEI DVOA 12.6% (6) -6.0% (13)
PASS 23.9% (9) 6.5% (20)
RUSH 15.4% (1) -6.9% (15)
Chiefs on Offense
DVOA -9.7% (6) 25.2% (1)
WEI DVOA -12.3% (4) 26.7% (1)
PASS -15.5% (1) 41.1% (1)
RUSH -1.9% (21) 1.3% (9)
Special Teams
DVOA 0.5% (13) -0.9% (19)

If you have FO+, you can click here to see all the matchup of DVOA splits for this game.


Eagles offense Chiefs defense

The Eagles offense is much more about running the ball than the Chiefs offense, although not as much more as you might think. In the first half of games, before the score begins to matter for running out the clock, the Eagles ran on 35% of plays (not including scrambles). That was below the NFL average of 39%, but significantly higher than the last-place Chiefs who were at 28%.

The Eagles' passing game has not been as strong in recent weeks compared to the first half of the season but their running game has been fantastic since midseason if we take out the two games started by Gardner Minshew. (The threat of Hurts carrying the ball is so important that it was essentially a different unit for those two weeks.)

Eagles Offense by Week, 2022
Weeks Pass Rk Run Rk All Rk
Weeks 1-10 35.7% 3 14.5% 3 22.2% 3
Weeks 11-21 (not 16-17) 10.2% 16 30.0% 1 14.7% 6

Over a full season, 30.0% would be the second-highest run offense DVOA ever, trailing only the 2000 Rams. The Eagles aren't just No. 1 running the ball since Week 11; they're No. 1 by a lot. Cincinnati is No. 2 since Week 11 at 10.5% rushing DVOA.

The Chiefs are not the terrible sieve of run defense that they have been in years past. Their run defense DVOA (15th) ranked higher than their pass defense DVOA (20th) during the regular season. However, the Chiefs were heavily susceptible to quarterback runs this year. They ranked 25th in rush YAR allowed to quarterbacks during the regular season and 28th if we only look at scrambles: 38 scrambles for 277 yards.

The Chiefs defense is better against outside runs than inside runs. They ranked 27th in adjusted line yards on middle runs, compared to sixth on both left end and right end runs. The Eagles offense is excellent on runs up the middle (fourth) and much better to right end (second) than left end (25th).

One trend that will play a role on both runs and passes is that the Chiefs ranked 27th in defensive broken tackle rate this season while the Eagles were fourth in offensive broken tackle rate.

The Chiefs' run defense declined a little bit over the last few weeks but their pass defense was much better in the second half of the season, coinciding with the Week 9 return of first-round cornerback Trent McDuffie from a hamstring injury suffered early in Week 1. Including the playoffs, the Chiefs have a top-10 pass defense since their bye week.

Chiefs Defense by Week, 2022
Weeks Pass Rk Run Rk All Rk
Weeks 1-7 16.4% 27 -8.8% 11 7.7% 24
Weeks 9-21 -5.7% 9 -2.0% 22 -4.2% 14

The Chiefs' cornerback coverage stats show how McDuffie stood out in his half-season of playing time. They also show the value of L'Jarius Sneed, who missed most of the AFC Championship Game with a concussion but has been cleared to play this Sunday. The Chiefs went back and forth this year between rookies Jaylen Watson and Joshua Williams as the third cornerback, but Watson has played more recently and allows fewer yards per target. 

Chiefs CBs, 2022 Coverage Stats
Player Tgts Yd/Tgt Rk Suc% Rk aDOT YAC
Trent McDuffie 40 5.0 8 60% 19 13.3 2.9
L'Jarius Sneed 69 6.2 29 59% 23 10.4 2.9
Jaylen Watson 52 7.2 48 48% 67 12.9 2.0
Joshua Williams 38 8.7 -- 53% -- 12.2 3.5

The Chiefs ranked only 31st in coverage against No. 1 wide receivers but there's a very clear split when McDuffie comes back in Week 9. In Weeks 1 to 7, the Chiefs allowed 38.7% DVOA to No. 1 wide receivers, easily the worst in the league. In Weeks 9 to 18, the Chiefs allowed 5.6% DVOA to No. 1 wide receivers, which ranked 17th.

The Chiefs' major weakness in pass coverage is more about the linebackers than the cornerbacks. The Chiefs allowed a 36.1% DVOA on "short middle" passes, which ranked 30th in the league. A big part of the problem appears to be linebacker Nick Bolton, who allowed 7.7 yards per pass in coverage with a 33% success rate. Jalen Hurts famously avoided the middle of the field last year but that was not a problem at all this season. In fact, Hurts ranked third in DYAR on passes to the short middle, trailing only Jared Goff and Tua Tagovailoa.

A.J. Brown was Hurts' most common target in this area with 26 targets, but Dallas Goedert was the one who had the most success: 12-of-14 for 169 yards plus an 8-yard DPI. There were also 12 short middle passes to DeVonta Smith, eight to Kenneth Gainwell, and seven to Quez Watkins.

Bolton in coverage also contributes to another weakness of the Chiefs defense: they ranked 28th in DVOA covering running backs. However, only five running backs had at least 40 receiving yards in a game against the Chiefs: both Leonard Fournette and Rachaad White in Week 4 plus Austin Ekeler, Marlon Mack, and Samaje Perine.

Bolton generally stays on the field on all plays, including when the Chiefs go to their recently popular 4-1-6 dime package. That package takes linebacker Willie Gay off the field and replaces him with rookie safety Bryan Cook. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, the Chiefs have played with six defensive backs on the field for 30% of the snaps or more in four of the last five games after reaching that mark in only three of their previous 14 contests.

During the regular season, at least, the Chiefs were worse in dime than in base or nickel. In dime they allowed 12.1% DVOA, 13th out of 21 defenses with at least 40 snaps of dime, for 5.7 yards per play. Dime defense encourages opponents to run against you and the Chiefs faced 25 carries in dime for 130 yards. The Eagles had 31.3% DVOA, seventh in the NFL, and 7.2 yards per play against dime defenses. That includes 20 carries for 110 yards, primarily in two games (Week 6 against Dallas and Week 18 against the Giants).

Dime defenses often come out when opponents are spreading the field with multiple receivers. It may shock you, given how important their running game is, but the Eagles were also excellent from empty sets his season. They had 47.6% DVOA (fifth) and 8.2 yards per play (third). However, the Chiefs defense also very good against empty with -11.1% DVOA (eighth) and 4.8 yards allowed per play (third).

Perhaps the secret to beating the Eagles offense is identifying which coverages Jalen Hurts struggles with. He had some clear splits this season. For example, Hurts had 60.4% DVOA (9.0 yards per pass) when opponents were in man coverage. That ranked second behind Trevor Lawrence among quarterbacks with at least 100 passes against man. On the other hand, Hurts had 33.8% DVOA against zones (7.9 yards per pass), which ranked 20th out of 39 different quarterbacks with at least 100 passes against zones.

Another big gap for Hurts came in MOFO (middle of the field open) vs. MOFC (middle of the field closed) coverages. MOFO includes Cover-0, Cover-2, Cover-2 Man, and Cover-4. MOFC includes Cover-1, Cover-3, and Cover-6. Unfortunately, I don't have the DVOA numbers synced up with these coverages, but we can get data from the SIS data hub. The Eagles were seventh in positive play percentage against MOFC coverages but 23rd in positive play percentage against MOFO coverages. (Positive play percentage tells you how often a play had positive expected points added.)

Combine those two stats and it suggests the Chiefs should mostly be playing Cover-2 and Cover-4 against Hurts. It just so happens that the Chiefs played Cover-2 on 30% of snaps this season according to ESPN Stats and Information, which ranked third in the NFL. They did not play very much Cover-4, just 4.8% of snaps. Overall for this season, the Chiefs defense had very little difference between its performance in man compared to zone. The Chiefs were a little better in MOFC coverages as opposed to MOFO coverages, but it was only a small difference.

As you might imagine, given the combination of MOFO and zone, Hurts had poor numbers against Cover-2 this season. His positive play percentage of 45.8% ranked 18th out of 26 quarterbacks who faced at least 40 snaps of Cover-2 in the SIS database. But Hurts didn't face Cover-2 very much, only 44 snaps. That's a very small sample size. The problem with playing Cover-2 against Hurts, of course, is that keeping those two safeties back invites the Eagles to run the ball.

We haven't talked about the Chiefs' pass rush here, and this might be the most important strategic question when the Eagles are on offense. We know how much Steve Spagnuolo likes exotic blitz packages. What will he have to go up against Hurts, and how often will he use the blitz?

Kansas City was not one of the top blitzing defenses in the league by SIS charting. They sent five or more pass-rushers 24.7% of the time, which ranked 13th in the league. However, Hurts was one of the most-blitzed quarterbacks. He faced a blitz on 30.9% of pass plays, fourth in the NFL. And Hurts was definitely worse when opponents blitzed him. Including scrambles, Hurts had -0.3% DVOA with 6.1 yards per play against a blitz. He had 34.9% DVOA and 7.8 yards per play without a blitz. It's a big difference.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs defense had -13.6% DVOA with a blitz (eighth) for 5.4 yards per play compared to 13.9% DVOA without a blitz (24th) and 6.0 yards per play. The difference in DVOA was less about yards per play and more about turnovers coming about 50% more often on blitzes.

The question is how much Spagnuolo will trust his young cornerbacks (as well as Sneed) to leave them on islands against A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith when he sends a blitz. The perfect way to counter a blitz would be to send A.J. Brown on a short cross against Kansas City's difficulty covering the short middle. One positive for Kansas City here is that they might be able to limit Brown's prodigious ability to rack up yards after the catch. The Chiefs allowed just 3.6 yards after the catch to wide receivers on average, the second-lowest figure in the NFL.

Will the Chiefs be able to get to Hurts when they don't blitz? The Chiefs ranked only 15th in ESPN's Pass Rush Win Rate but the lauded Eagles offensive line surprisingly ranked only 12th in Pass Block Win Rate. ESPN's numbers suggest that the relative weakness on the line is left tackle Jordan Mailata, who ranked only 56th out of 64 tackles. Mailata will mostly be lined up against veterans Frank Clark and Carlos Dunlap, with rookie George Karlaftis on the other side. The hardest part of blocking the Chiefs is stopping Chris Jones on the interior, of course, and that's where All-Pro Jason Kelce comes in. It will probably take some sort of double team with either Landon Dickerson or Isaac Seumalo.


Chiefs offense Eagles defense

Two weeks ago, we were all worried about what Patrick Mahomes' ankle injury was going to do to his performance against the Bengals. The answer was "not much." Yes, Mahomes did seem to struggle to move around at times, especially later in the game. But the ankle injury didn't stop him from putting up a typical Mahomes performance, including the third-and-4 scramble that put Harrison Butker in position to win the game. As Next Gen Stats explained, Mahomes was excellent on the run two weeks ago despite the ankle injury.

The Eagles have a very special pass rush. They ended the regular season with an 11.2% sack rate, the highest since the 2000 New Orleans Saints. The Eagles send their pass-rushers at you in waves, with a lot of depth. Four different defenders—edge rushers Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, and Brandon Graham, plus defensive tackle Javon Hargrave—had double-digit sacks.

The Chiefs allow a lot of pass pressure considering the quality of their offensive line. Some of that is Mahomes' style and the way he works his way outside the pocket. The Chiefs ranked 26th in offensive pressure rate during the regular season. At the same time, Mahomes ranked second behind Josh Allen in DVOA when under pressure. He was very good when the Bengals had him under pressure two weeks ago.

The Chiefs led the NFL in ESPN's Pass Block Win Rate. Creed Humphrey and Joe Thuney were No. 1 at their respective positions and all of the Chiefs' starting linemen ranked in the top 20 at their positions. Also, Brandon Thorn at his (very recommended!) Trench Warfare substack pointed out that the Chiefs use a lot of backfield motion and chipping to slow down opposing defensive ends. Look for that; even Travis Kelce is often chipping a defensive end before he goes out on a route.

We'll have to see if Mahomes is running around as much as usual given the ankle injury. He has had another two weeks to heal. Much like the Chiefs, the Eagles were not strong against mobile quarterbacks during the regular season. The Eagles ranked 29th in rush YAR allowed to quarterbacks during the regular season and 30th if we only look at scambles, with 33 scrambles for 303 yards.

There was some discussion that the Bengals might try to blitz Mahomes more because of the ankle injury. They didn't, but now we have to ask the same question about the Eagles. The Eagles were very, very good when blitzing this season. With a blitz (any play with five or more pass-rushers), the Eagles ranked second with -33.7% DVOA and allowed just 4.4 yards per play. Without a blitz, they ranked fourth with -7.9% DVOA and allowed 5.4 yards per play—still very good, but not as good. The Eagles blitzed on 24.2% of pass plays, which ranked 16th in the league.

The question of blitzing Mahomes is an interesting one because you have to ask yourself which is more telling, numbers from this season or numbers from multiple seasons? From 2019 to 2021, the lesson was clear: never, ever blitz Mahomes. Each of those years, Mahomes was significantly better against a blitz, peaking with 2021 when he had 6.7 yards per play without a blitz but 9.4 yards per play with a blitz. This year, however, Mahomes was actually better without a blitz. The Chiefs had 44.9% DVOA without a blitz, 7.7 yards per play, compared to 29.6% DVOA with a blitz, 6.6 yards per play.

 My own preference: Given Mahomes' numbers over multiple years, and the fact that the Eagles defense was still really good when it did not blitz, I wouldn't do it.

One reason the Eagles might be able to get away with blitzing is the quality of their cornerbacks. James Bradberry led all qualifying cornerbacks by allowing just 4.2 yards per target this season. Darius Slay was excellent as well. Nickelback Avonte Maddox is closer to average, allowing more yards per target despite facing much shorter passes. 

Eagles CBs, 2022 Coverage Stats
Player Tgts Yd/Tgt Rk Suc% Rk aDOT YAC
James Bradberry 73 4.2 1 68% 2 13.0 2.2
Darius Slay 65 5.5 14 60% 19 12.3 2.1
Avonte Maddox 28 6.9 43 54% 50 7.6 4.4
Josiah Scott 26 11.2 -- 38% -- 11.4 3.9

The Eagles were better this year in man coverage (3.7% DVOA, fourth) than zone coverage (19.5% DVOA, 14th). Both of those defensive DVOA ratings are above zero despite being better than average because the DVOA for all passes is well above zero once you take out sacks.

Obviously, a lot of attention will be paid to how well the Eagles cover tight ends because Travis Kelce is the top offensive weapon for Mahomes. The Eagles ranked sixth in DVOA against tight ends this year. There are a lot of ways to cover tight ends, of course, so I broke down how well the Eagles covered tight ends depending on who was in coverage. They were more successful with linebackers or in the rare cases they had the cornerbacks on tight ends. Both of the Eagles linebackers had stellar pass defense coverage stats. T.J. Edwards allowed just 3.6 yards per target with a 74% success rate. Kyzir White allowed 3.7 yards per target with a 63% success rate.

Eagles Coverage on Tight Ends, 2022
Coverage Yd/Tgt Suc% Tgts
Safeties 7.5 39% 33
Linebackers 5.7 64% 28
Cornerbacks 1.6 86% 14
Uncovered 8.4 32% 38

Those "uncovered" targets are important, as the Eagles were one of the less successful teams on uncovered tight end targets. (NFL averages were 8.8 yards but 39% defensive success.)

The quality of the linebackers in coverage also leads us to look at covering running backs. Although the Eagles allowed a high DVOA to running backs (24th), they didn't allow a lot of yards. The Eagles allowed a league-low 6.2 average yards after the catch to running backs. Their DVOA was worse than the yardage allowed because they were worst against running back passes on third downs (compared to first and second). 

One place where this game matches strength against strength is when we look at wide vs. slot alignments for receivers. Derrik Klassen wrote in Film Room earlier this week that "the Chiefs don't have a legit outside receiver, so it's easier for them to attack wider sections of the field by getting their ideal matchup lined up inside and having them work towards the outside." But surprisingly, the SIS numbers suggest the opposite of this. The Chiefs ranked third in DVOA this year when the pass target was lined up wide but 12th when the pass target was lined up in the slot. A lot of those were Travis Kelce slot targets, of course, and the Chiefs drop to 21st in DVOA when we only look at wide receivers lined up in the slot.

This lines up with the Eagles' strength in pass coverage. The Eagles were the No. 1 team covering receivers coming from wide alignments, the only defense with negative DVOA on these passes. They were only an average defense against receivers coming from the slot.

The running game is a smaller part of the Chiefs offense than it is the Eagles offense. Kansas City has been better running the ball early in the series. During the regular season, the Chiefs were third in run DVOA on first down compared to 17th on second down and 23rd on third down. The Chiefs offense ranked high in adjusted line yards for every direction except for right end. 

The Eagles' run defense was a big problem over the first half of the season but improved around midseason when they signed veterans Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph at defensive tackle. The Eagles' ranked 29th in run defense for Weeks 1 to 10 but improved to 10th in run defense for Weeks 11 to 21. (If you want to take out the NFC Championship Game because the Eagles could easily key on the run against a team with no quarterback, then they rank 13th in run defense for Weeks 11 to 20, still a significant improvement.) The Eagles' biggest weakness according to adjusted line yards is that they ranked 31st on runs around left end.

Kansas City's poor run DVOA on third down is tied in with one of their few real weaknesses this season. The Chiefs were lousy in short-yardage situations. Kansas City ranked 31st in the NFL by converting 55% of "power runs," defined as runs with 1 or 2 yards to go on third down, fourth down, or the goal line. They have a similar conversion rate on passes, just 56%, although that has a better rank (13th). Perhaps this difficulty converting short yardage is part of why Andy Reid was less aggressive on fourth downs this year than he was last year. However, this was also a weakness for the Eagles defense. For the entire regular season, the Eagles had the worst success rate against power runs, allowing 80% conversions. Even since Suh and Joseph arrived in Week 11, including the playoffs, the Eagles have allowed a 71% conversion rate on power runs (15 of 21). The Eagles are much better against short-yardage passes, allowing just 52% conversions on passes in these same short-yardage situations.


The Eagles and Chiefs both have mediocre special teams but get there in different ways. The Eagles get to mediocre special teams by being mediocre in every area of special teams. They rank between ninth and 23rd in all five areas of special teams that we measure. Kicker Jake Elliott is the best part of the unit. Veteran Brett Kern was a step down in both net punting and gross punting since he replaced an injured Arryn Siposs, but Siposs is healthy and should be back in the Super Bowl. Boston Scott returns kickoffs and Britain Covey returns punts.

The Chiefs have mediocre special teams because they are very good in some ways and terrible in others. The best part of the Chiefs special teams unit, by far, is punting, where Tommy Townsend was elected first-team All-Pro and the Chiefs finished second in net value (but first in net value per punt). The Chiefs also finished fourth in net kickoff value during the regular season before giving up a couple of huge returns to Jamal Agnew in the divisional round win over Jacksonville. On the other hand, the Chiefs ranked 24th in punt returns, 30th in kick returns, and 32nd in placekicking. Skyy Moore had his two best punt returns of the season against Cincinnati and I'm skeptical that he can do that again, but we'll see. On kick returns, Isiah Pacheco has a bad habit of getting tackled before he even reaches the 20.

Much of Kansas City's poor performance on field goals and extra points came from injury replacements when Harrison Butker was out for a couple of weeks. Butker was also below-average (-5.5 points of value) but has gotten healthier over the course of the season and has a strong career record even if this year was bad.  

I covered why the Chiefs are perceived as being worse on special teams than they really are in the AFC Championship preview two weeks ago.


This game is as close as you think it is, but if I have to make a pick, I have a slight lean towards taking the Chiefs. Here's how I explained it for ESPN Chalk earlier this week. First of all, if all else is equal you would tend to side with the team with the better quarterback, and that's the Chiefs. Second, as I explained in the intro, the extra week off seems to favor Andy Reid's strengths over Nick Sirianni's strengths. Third—and this one only applies if you're looking for a pick against the spread—it's really unlikely that this game comes down to a single point but if it does, I might as well go with the team that gets the extra point.

That being said, it won't be a surprise if the Eagles win this game and take home the Lombardi Trophy. The surprise will be if one of these teams blows out the other one. As long as both Hurts and Mahomes are on the field, Super Bowl LVII should be a very good, very close contest.






DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) breaks down each play of the season and compares it to the NFL average based on situation and opponent. You'll find it explained further here. Since DVOA measures ability to score, a negative DVOA indicates a better defense and worse offense, and a positive DVOA indicates a better offense and worse defense.

Team DVOA numbers incorporate all plays; since passing is generally more efficient than rushing, the average for passing is actually above 0% while the average for rushing is below 0%.

SPECIAL TEAMS numbers are different; they represent value in points of extra field position gained compared to NFL average. Field goal rating represents points scored compared to average kicker at same distances. All special teams numbers are adjusted by weather and altitude; the total is then translated into DVOA so it can be compared to offense and defense. Those numbers are explained here.

Each team is listed with DVOA for offense and defense, total along with rush and pass, and rank among the 32 teams in parentheses. (If the DVOA values are difficult to understand, it is easy to just look at the ranks.) We also list WEIGHTED DVOA (WEI DVOA), which is based on a formula which drops the value of games early in the season to get a better idea of how teams are playing now (explained here).

Each team also gets two charts showing their performance this year, game-by-game, according to offensive and defensive DVOA. In addition to a line showing each game, another line shows the team's trend for the season, using a rolling average of the last five games. Note that the defensive chart is reversed so upwards is a more negative defensive DVOA (which is better).


49 comments, Last at 12 Feb 2023, 11:32pm

#1 by Pat // Feb 09, 2023 - 1:53pm

the Chiefs have the best three players in the game -- Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Chris Jones 

Yes... rubs hands together diabolically - keep adding fuel to Jason Kelce and the Eagles offensive linemen. We all know what happened the last time people said "yes, you guys are good, but those guys there are better."

Ain't nothin' better than telling a guy "yeah, you're okay, but your little brother is better." "Oh really..."


The Eagles were better this year in man coverage (3.7% DVOA, fourth) than zone coverage (19.5% DVOA, 14th).

Sigh. The Eagles, by and large, do not run man or zone. They run quarters, which is zone match, which often gets categorized as man if everyone hits their assignments right (good!) and zone if someone misses their assignment (bad). Better in man, worse in zone is exactly what you expect.

I don't know how SIS tries to identify plays by zone/man, but I know that NextGenStats just totally screws up man/zone categorization with quarters. Game charting numbers (from someone who knows quarters!) and NGS's numbers were just waaay off. One game they had Philly in man for like a third of the snaps and they were in man for like, two. I mean, if the offense is in a 3x1 alignment and the defense adjusts with Trix (weak safety takes #3 rather than the LB), the weak-side receiver (the "x1") is straight man-to-man, so how the heck do you categorize that?

Points: 3

#18 by laflamablanca87 // Feb 09, 2023 - 5:53pm

Yes, Jason Kelce and the Eagles offensive lineman read Football Outsiders religiously to find motivation. 

Points: 4

#19 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 09, 2023 - 5:57pm

Tanier is literally there talking to them. Just saying.

Points: 0

#29 by Pat // Feb 10, 2023 - 10:49am

Honestly, I just want both of the brothers to see as many of the fans trash talking the other and building stuff up, because I want the best performance from both of them on Sunday. They've been my two favorite players in the league for over 5 years now, and both of them obviously respond to stuff being said about them, regardless of what they say. 

Points: 0

#2 by theslothook // Feb 09, 2023 - 2:08pm

Well Aaron convinced me.

I do find it interesting that the Eagles line ranks slightly out of the top 10 in pass blocking win rate despite the incredible reputation that it has. For that all to be at the feet of one player either suggests the stat is misleading or just how much good work can be undone by one problematic player

Points: 0

#4 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 09, 2023 - 2:33pm

Hurts will sometimes hang onto the ball too long waiting for a chunk play to open up.

Points: 0

#12 by Pat // Feb 09, 2023 - 4:17pm

Mailata's also had games he struggled against elite pass rushers earlier in the year. But I still feel like some of this is just the weirdness of trying to set a hard line for a "pass block win." There are plenty of plays where they don't care if you can't hold your block for 2.5 seconds.

Points: 1

#48 by rivki1354 // Feb 12, 2023 - 5:28pm

That may be because win rates do not match reality. For a classic example of this, see the top 5 in run-stop win rate, and then watch the film. There is a lot of work to be done on these stats for them to have any utility.

Points: 0

#3 by halfjumpsuit // Feb 09, 2023 - 2:22pm

The Chiefs allow a lot of pass pressure considering the quality of their offensive line.

Then perhaps the Chiefs offensive line isn't quite as high quality as it is believed to be.

Points: 2

#5 by theslothook // Feb 09, 2023 - 2:37pm

But the pass blocking wind rate says otherwise and pressure is heavily influenced by the quarterback. 

I know the pass blocking win rate probably is to even though it's meant to be an o-line specific stat

Points: 1

#8 by theslothook // Feb 09, 2023 - 2:56pm

That probably sounds absurd, but I bet it's nearly impossible to judge the bears offensive line in a vacuum

Points: 1

#6 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 09, 2023 - 2:39pm

The joke we've been using is that the Chiefs have the best three players in the game -- Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Chris Jones -- and then the Eagles have players 4 to 30. It's a fun line and a bit of an exaggeration.

The exaggeration cuts both ways.

Goedert is not much, if any, of a step down from Kelce. Cox and Hargrave rotating give you everything Jones does, and possibly more. Hurts is admittedly a step down from Mahomes, but you're basically going from the MVP1 to the MVP2 or 3.

KC's o-line isn't bad, but which Philly starter wouldn't replace KC's starter if they switched teams?


Points: -5

#13 by cstoos // Feb 09, 2023 - 4:50pm

Goedert isn't a step down from Kelce? Come on now. You can't say that with a straight face, right? 


As for the OL question, KC is probably better at guard and center. Humphrey is considered the best center in the league by a lot of people but Kelce is too, so at worst it's a push there. Philly has better tackles though, especially on the right side

Points: 3

#16 by Pat // Feb 09, 2023 - 5:01pm

I've got a ton of respect for Travis because he's faced a much, much heavier load than Goedert in terms of what coverage he's faced, but Goedert's had the higher DVOA this year and would've put up a higher DYAR if he hadn't missed those games

Goedert's probably athletically better than Kelce at this point (age), but Travis is an insane route runner. The funny thing is that I think if you swapped them, both of them would do worse than the other in that same situation. Goedert wouldn't have as much production without Brown and Smith, and Kelce wouldn't have as much production because his ability to find open spots would be often wasted (since... it's already open).

KC is probably better at guard and center.

Yes, please continue to publicly say how much better at center Kansas City is and how amazing Travis Kelce is. Please be sure to do it on social media and tag as many people as you can. That can't possibly backfire.

Points: -4

#21 by cstoos // Feb 09, 2023 - 6:50pm

Yes, I'm sure the Eagles are busy reading FO comments to get hyped for the game and are discussing how a lot of people think Creed Humphrey is the #1 center in the league at this point at the hotel as we speak. 

Points: 3

#24 by mrh // Feb 09, 2023 - 10:11pm

It is interesting to me that an Eagles' fan perceives that the Eagles will be highly motivated by some analysts saying Thuney and Humphrey are better than Kelce and pick-a-PHI-guard.  Because as a Chiefs fan, I think the Chiefs o- and d-lines will be highly motivated by the all the comments I hear that the Eagles have better lines.  And I'm pretty sure Mahomes will be highly motivated by being an underdog.

I actually think the o-lines are pretty level in current ability except at RT where the Eagles have a huge edge. At C, Kelce obviously has had a career that Humphrey can only aspire to, but their careers aren't taking the field Sunday and their current level of performance is pretty close.  Which doesn't matter since they will not be blocking each other, just like Mahomes vs. Hurts don't actually play each other.

Points: 1

#28 by Pat // Feb 10, 2023 - 10:41am

It is interesting to me that an Eagles' fan perceives that the Eagles will be highly motivated

It's just a joke. It's really just a callback to the Eagles in '17 when the underdog masks came out. I loved that because it was the offensive line doing it, and they're the most underappreciated unit in all of football. Literally every OL in the league could put on "underdog" masks. But it is weird to see the Eagles finally favored because on FO, you went from:

In Super Bowl XXXIX, however, I think that all the indicators point towards a New England victory, and not a close one.


A Philadelphia upset on Sunday is more likely than a Philadelphia upset was back in Super Bowl XXXIX, and that game finished within a field goal.

and now we get

That being said, it won't be a surprise if the Eagles win this game and take home the Lombardi Trophy. The surprise will be if one of these teams blows out the other one.

I'm scrambling for all the underdog vibes I can get, man. They're there, but now it's basically just "well, Mahomes is just awesome" and it's not like I can really argue with that.

Now to the actual comment:

At C, Kelce obviously has had a career that Humphrey can only aspire to, but their careers aren't taking the field Sunday and their current level of performance is pretty close.

Humphrey's a very different player than Kelce is: he's taller and almost 30 pounds heavier. That's the thing - I like Humphrey as a center. A lot. I think he's great (and this isn't token, Philly is my main team but KC is my AFC team). But the Chiefs just don't ask him to do what Philly asks Kelce to do, because that would be stupid. Kelce's able to hold his own in pass protection and be as dynamic and flexible in the run game as any center ever has in the modern era. Chris Jones has 30 pounds on Jason Kelce. Humphrey's evenly matched against Cox and Hargrave.

The reason Kelce is awesome isn't that he does what other centers do really well. Kelce's awesome because he does that while doing stuff other centers can't.

Points: 5

#17 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 09, 2023 - 5:18pm

Goedert would have fewer total yards, but he had more DYAR/game than Kelce had.

The four games he missed were after Washington attempted to decapitate him.

Points: 1

#20 by laflamablanca87 // Feb 09, 2023 - 6:32pm

Wait, are you also using exaggeration in your comment?  Because that is the only way you could say that Goedert is not much, "if any," of a step down from Kelce.  I assume you are basing this off of Goedert's DVOA efficiency numbers, while ignoring the context surrounding role within the offense and the level at which defenses scheme to stop said player?


Goedert is a good player, easily a top 5 tight end in the league. Kelce is an all timer, still playing at an elite level. That is the very definition of a step down. 

Points: 9

#9 by theslothook // Feb 09, 2023 - 3:01pm

My revised prediction.

If Hurts was healthy, I probably lean Philadelphia. It would still make me nervous because Hurts is inexperienced as is his head coach. But still, I do think the on paper talent is ahead of Kansas City despite Aaron explaining otherwise.

Kansas City is still starting a bunch of rookies in the secondary, a critically important part of the game where it's tough to rely on rookies. And the linebackers are a known weakness.

That said, The last time Kansas City faced a team where it's most clear weakness ran up against its opponent's clear strength was the 2019 super Bowl. And that on paper mismatch never really materialized in the way everybody expected. That tells me it's easier to drum up a defense to stop an elite run game than it is an elite pass game. 

On top of that fact is Philly's mighty run game relies on Hurts being healthy. I know Mahomes is injured too, but his leg is far less of a handicap than his throwing shoulder and even an 80% version of Patrick Mahomes is probably still a top 5 QB. 

The Hurts injury + the inexperienced coaching tilt me over to KC winning in much the same way KC outlasted SF in 2019. Squint hard enough and there are lots of similarities between the two sbs.

I could be spectacularly wrong obviously, but that's why I like pregame predictions. It traps us from making post hoc narratives that we somehow knew all along.

Points: 4

#15 by horn // Feb 09, 2023 - 4:58pm

80% of Mahomes will get crushed against this Philly D. 

95%, different story.

Points: 1

#26 by rh1no // Feb 09, 2023 - 10:32pm

I'm picking Kansas City to win this one because I KNOW they're a good team. They stomped a healthy 49ers team, beat decent Jags and Chargers squads twice each, split two close games against the Bengals, and lost a nail biter to the Bills. Sure, their strength of schedule according to DVOA is 29th, but I've seen them perform well against top competition.

The Eagles? I'm not so sure. They had the easiest schedule on the league, and their best win came against a team playing a quarterback with a torn UCL. They split the season series against a talented-but-inconsistent Cowboys team. They beat Jacksonville and stomped a lot of bad teams, and I ilinderstand how that's predictive of future performance. But the Chiefs are a proven quantity, and the past five years' worth of proof earns them the nod in close matchups as far as I'm concerned.

Points: 5

#32 by JoelBarlow // Feb 10, 2023 - 12:58pm

basically the last good team Hurts played was TB in the playoffs last year and he was unplayable

Points: -3

#33 by BSK // Feb 10, 2023 - 4:21pm

Nonsense.  The Eagles played a total of 7 regular season games against 5 different teams that went to the playoffs.  They went 6-1 in those games with the lone loss coming with Hurts out.  Now, the teams they played weren't exactly a murderers row, but they can only play the teams in front of them.  They beat every team they played with the exception of the Saints (they lost to Dallas and Washington but also beat both teams) and that was also a game Hurts missed.

In the playoffs, they spanked the Giants and the 49ers.  And while there are legitimate questions about how well they played in those games... isn't it a GOOD thing that they won by a combined 60+ points while not playing they're best?

None of that guarantees an Eagles victory.

The Chiefs also played 8 games against 7 playoff teams.  They went 6-2 in those games.  The two best teams they faced (the Bills and Bengals) were undoubtedly better than any regular season team the Eagles faced... but the Chiefs lost both those games.  The teams they beat -- Jacksonville (common opponent), Chargers (2x), Seahawks, Bucs, 49ers (common opponent if including playoffs) -- don't really stand out as significantly better than the Eagles' opponents.

Yes, I know it is more complicated than all of that which is what this very site is all about.  And yet the numbers here show the game to be more or less a coin flip... consistent with most other analysis.  So, yea, nonsense here.

Points: 2

#38 by rh1no // Feb 11, 2023 - 1:12pm

While I agree that JoelBarlow is selling the Eagles a bit short, I think you're overstating the quality of their opponents -- and the quality of KC'S opponents, too -- by using "teams that made the playoffs" as your metric.

The Vikings were a bad team with a good record. The Giants were mediocre at best. The Jags came into Philly at 2-1 and proceeded to lose against the Eagles, the Texans, the Colts, the Giants, and the Broncos over their next 5 games ... they were a very different team in Week 4 than they were in the Divisional round.

It's fair to assert the Eagles are a great team based on their ability to blow out inferior competition, but it's also fair to suggest that the Chiefs have an experience advantage from playing better teams at their peak.

Points: 0

#42 by BSK // Feb 11, 2023 - 8:40pm

The comment I was responding to said: "basically the last good team Hurts played was TB in the playoffs last year and he was unplayable."

Hurts beat Dallas.  He beat San Fran.  He beat Minnesota.  He beat the Giants... three times.  He beat Jacksonville.  He beat Detroit.  He beat Green Bay.  He beat Tennessee.  He beat Pittsburgh.  Five of those teams made the playoffs.  Six of those teams had positive DVOAs.  Hurts (and the Eagles) beat plenty of good teams this year.  Maybe not great teams but good teams.  So the initial statement was just nonsense.

Unless you think that like 75% of the league isn't "good".  And if you subscribe to that 'logic' then you'd have to conclude that Mahomes (and the Chiefs) have at most one win against a "good" team this year (the Bengals in the AFC championship); they lost to the Bengals and Bills earlier, the Chargers had a negative DVOA, the Jags are a common opponent between the two... so unless you want to argue that the Seahawks are a better team than anyone the Eagles beat this year, this argument just doesn't hold any water.

It doesn't mean anything for tomorrow, but the original comment was just dumb.

Points: 1

#43 by guest from Europe // Feb 12, 2023 - 9:42am

I expect it to be a similar game to one of Cowboys 90's Super Bowls or Cowboys over Packers (in 1995 for example). Just the dominant O-line and running all over Chiefs on multiple 4th downs. Mahomes is the MVP, but the better team should win.

So, something like 27-17 or 31-20 Eagles. 

I think Sirriani's game-management, unlike Shanahan in 2019, will be good to not let Chiefs come back.

Points: 0

#11 by Salur // Feb 09, 2023 - 4:04pm

The Eagles were seventh in positive play percentage against MOFC coverages but 23rd in positive play percentage against MOFO coverages.

Well, we've known this for a while, but good to see it confirmed by the analytics: Jalen Hurts is a bad MOFO.

Points: 4

#14 by horn // Feb 09, 2023 - 4:57pm

31-21 Iggles. Both lines dominate.

Points: 0

#25 by mrh // Feb 09, 2023 - 10:13pm

My mind keeps going back to SB LIV, when the SF d-line of all 1st rounders was going to give the KC offense fits.  Which it did for a time, then mostly disappeared when KC went to hurry-up mode late in the game.  How relevant that game is or isn't can be debated since only 13 players from that roster are still with the Chiefs, and that includes Wylie and Thornhill (who were out then), Saunders (only played 4 snaps), Allegretti (5 ST snaps and a backup againr this year), LS Winchester, and K Butker.

Only 6 non-STers played substantial snaps then and will now, barring injury:  Mahomes, Kelce, Jones, Clark, Nnadi, and Blake Bell.  The turnover in players has been remarkable.

Points: 0

#27 by BSK // Feb 10, 2023 - 10:37am

To me, the Bucs/Chiefs Super Bowl seems more analogous to this one, mainly because of the similarities between that Bucs team and this Eagles team: dominant line play on both sides of the ball, a diverse set of playmakers on offense, strong secondary play.  The Bucs were much better at linebacker than these Eagles are and Hurts/Brady aren't really comparable (not just in terms of skill/legacy/whatever but also in play style and relative strengths/weaknesses).

That game also felt like a great top-to-bottom team versus a top-heavy one and we saw how that went.

Of course, that is a one game sample size so who knows.  But if we are going to compare recent Super Bowls involving the Chiefs to this one, that is the one that feels more on point.

Points: 2

#30 by Pat // Feb 10, 2023 - 11:05am

The Bucs were much better at linebacker than these Eagles are

Yeah, definitely. I know Aaron gives a lot of love to Edwards and White, but I don't think that's correct. It's just a question as to whether or not coverage breaks down or not.

No one wants linebackers on wide receivers, unless it's Fred Warner. Quarters coverage has tons of adjustments to avoid situations where a linebacker is supposed to carry a receiver deep (Palms, Trix, etc.) because they're basically screwed if they do. But so long as that coverage is contained to shallow passes, you've basically got a numbers advantage because no one runs 4 receivers into the middle of the field.

So when you get comments like:

Both of the Eagles linebackers had stellar pass defense coverage stats. T.J. Edwards allowed just 3.6 yards per target with a 74% success rate. Kyzir White allowed 3.7 yards per target with a 63% success rate.

the way I interpret this is not that White and Edwards can actually cover TEs all over the field magically (cuz they can't), but that the Eagles don't let them be manned up on receiving threats when its not favorable.

And this is, I think, a place where film-based analysis and stats-based analysis heavily disagree. Edwards has been great, but he's the apex defender and the apex defender doesn't get "oh crap" screwed as often. PFF has a very low opinion of Kyzir White, and mine is somewhere in the middle. He's good at what the Eagles ask him to do, but if the coverage breaks down and they end up with White carrying a guy deep or on a wide receiver crossing, that's just not going to work.

But like I said elsewhere, it's just a problem with trying to do defensive statistics. You can't break down a defense working well into individual players. If the offense shows a weird 3x1 alignment and instead sends guys out 2x2 on both sides and they didn't have an adjustment built in, how do you blame the linebacker for not being able to keep with a receiver sprinting deep? It's the whole defense's fault for not recognizing the risk.

Points: 5

#41 by beargoggles // Feb 11, 2023 - 5:32pm

Except in the TB-KC game, the KC O-line was shredded and could not resist the TB D-line at all. I don’t think we are going to have anything close to that dynamic this time around. 

This is the hardest SB pick for me in a while. KC-TB was one of the easiest. A lot may come down to KC being patient with run and quick passing. Which at least in the latter case something that was more part of their offense this year than in years past. And then red zone execution.  Seems like for Philly offense, it’s all going to be about how Hurts plays. 

Points: 2

#47 by apocalipstick // Feb 12, 2023 - 12:32pm

Yeah, 'team with two outstanding edge rushers against team that lost both OTs' isn't rocket science. The injuries to KC's receivers won't have quite the same impact.

Points: 0

#31 by delphil // Feb 10, 2023 - 12:43pm

Once again FO for some reason pick against the Eagles (they did for the Niners game as well). It continues a tradition of the whole season underselling the Eagles relative to how they have been performing across the NFL.

Though it purports to be objective and scientific with its analysis, one cannot help to see a creeping of subjective decision making in the end.

Hope they are wrong as they have been so far. 

Points: -6

#34 by mathesond // Feb 10, 2023 - 5:41pm

Are you saying DVOA no longer loves the Eagles?

Points: 3

#35 by AFCNFCBowl // Feb 10, 2023 - 6:37pm

Their weighted DVOA is lower than their full season DVOA (implying they were playing worse late in the year) while KC, SF and CIN were all better by weighted DVOA.

Points: 4

#39 by rh1no // Feb 11, 2023 - 3:53pm

Don't be silly. FO isn't picking against Philadelphia. DVOA gives a very slight advantage to Kansas City in a game against two very closely matched teams.

At no point in this season -- including the postseason -- has DVOA or the FO staff undersestimated the Eagles. Just look at this quote from the NFC Championship preview:

Before Jalen Hurts' shoulder injury, the Eagles were the clear No. 1 team in football. From Week 1 to Week 15, Philadelphia's 33.1% DVOA led the league as the 13-1 Eagles looked next to unstoppable.

The final DVOA rankings ahead of Championship weekend had the Eagles as the second-best team remaining by full-season DVOA and the fourth-best team by weighted DVOA.

Doesn’t the data match the eye test here? Without Hurts in the lineup, Philly lost two late-season games to inferior opponents with their vaunted defense giving up 40 to the Cowboys and 20 to the Dalton-led Saints. Meanwhile, the 49ers reeled off a 12 game win streak, the Bengals won nine in a row (incliding a STOMP of the #1 team by DVOA) and the Chiefs only lost once -- by three points to the Bengals in Cincinnati -- in their last 12.

Despite the Eagles' late-season dip in performance, FO, Vegas, FiveThirtyEight, and nearly every advanced metrics site gave Philly roughly the same chance of winning the Super Bowl as the other three teams.

Even here in the preview, the takeaway is that these teams are both so good and so evenly-matched that it's almost impossible to say that either one has a meaningful advantage. FO leaned towards the Chiefs because they have a HoF coach, the reigning MVP, and a slight edge in DVOA. They're a slightly more proven commodity  Yes, that's subjective, which is why the staff explicitly state that it won't be a surprise to see the Eagles win the game. They see this match-up as a pick 'em.

Ain't nobody disrespecting the Eagles. Ain't no chip on your shoulder. 

Points: 10

#46 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 12, 2023 - 11:06am

20 to the Dalton-led Saints.

13. The Saints had a pick-6.

Points: 1

#37 by deg0ey // Feb 10, 2023 - 7:22pm

The Eagles have the best offensive line in the league but the Chiefs line may be second behind them. The Chiefs wide receivers are not as good as A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, but they're good. The Chiefs cornerbacks are not as good as Darius Slay and James Bradberry, but they're good, especially the rookie Trent McDuffie. 

This feels like the wrong way to be doing those comparisons since position groups don't play against themselves. If you compare DL vs OL the Eagles have the edge on both sides of the ball and it's not that close. Same with WR vs DBs.

Should be a fun game though - both teams are going to be able to move the ball and I expect both teams to score a ton of points. And I'm glad I don't work in an industry where I have to go on the record with a prediction because this one really feels like it could go either way.

Points: 7

#44 by Will Allen // Feb 12, 2023 - 9:44am

Some element of the wagering industry has obviously decided that the two weeks off has allowed various Chiefs injuries to heal enough to not be a critical factor, and/or shoulder injuries for qbs need more than two weeks to heal enough. I have no idea what the state of health is for too many important players to have a strong opinion as to the outcome.

My gut says that Chiefs receivers are not going to get seperation quickly, Mahomes is going to be forced to extend plays, and his ankle situation is going to be aggravated. Hope, I'm wrong, not because I'm rooting for the Chiefs, but just because I'd like everybody to get lucky enough to have a game in which injuries aren't a significant factor. If I'm rooting for anything, it's for the Eagles o-line, because that's kind of a fun throw-back to the game of the past.


Points: -1

#45 by theslothook // Feb 12, 2023 - 10:08am

Philly's line is getting a ton of acclaim, but it's interesting that the advanced metrics don't pain this as an all time unit. Adjusted line yards, pass blocking win rate, general pressure rates; etc  all suggest it's a very good line. And maybe if you mix them all together, it's arguably the best line in football.

But for some reason, it's getting talked about in a much higher regard than that. Perhaps it is among the greatest lines of all time and we just don't have great metrics to accurately measure it at the moment. We don't really have these advanced stats to compare against the 2000s Chiefs for example.

Points: 1

#49 by Pat // Feb 12, 2023 - 11:32pm

I think the metrics we have now can only really tell good from bad, not great from good. Adjusted line yards kindof has a "model" for how lines work - linemen handle within 3 yds, etc. And that doesn't work for elite OLs who spring linemen 5-10 yds downfield. Same for pass block win rate, which assumes everything's 2.5 seconds good or bad.

Points: 0

Save 10%
& Support Aaron
Support Football Outsiders' independent media and Aaron Schatz. Use promo code SCHATZ to save 10% on any FO+ membership and give half the cost of your membership to tip Aaron.