In nine position group categories and coaching, I have the Eagles with the advantage in six over the Chiefs.
What’s scary for the Eagles is the Patrick Mahomes advantage. I rate him ahead of Jalen Hurts. But if Mahomes turns a small advantage into a gaping one, that is big trouble for the Eagles.
Hurts doesn’t have to outplay Mahomes for the Eagles to win. But the Eagles’ defense can’t let Mahomes walk all over them.
Andy Reid was run out of town back in 2012. He quickly landed in Kansas City. It was win-win for both parties. Reid has two Super Bowl rings — as a quarterback coach with Green Bay and as Chiefs’ head coach.
Nick Sirianni and the Rams’ Sean McVay might be the best of the young, new-wave coaches. Players respond to Sirianni. They play hard for him. I’m not a big fan of Reid’s game-day proficiency but his experience earns him a nod over Sirianni.
Mahomes is in a league by himself. Hurts brings unique skills to the game but Mahomes has been doing it longer and under more stressful situations. There is only one Patrick Mahomes. He is the best player on the field.
The Eagles’ trio has been excellent. Miles Sanders gained 1,269 yards and scored 11 touchdowns on the ground. Kenny Gainwell has developed into a tough-yard guy with a burst of speed. He leads the Eagles’ playoff rushers. Boston Scott always seems to find the end zone.
Kansas City relies on rookie Isiah Pacheco from Vineland, N.J. He is a hard-charging, hard to bring down runner. He has gained 830 yards and has five touchdowns. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is active after not playing since Week 11 with a high ankle sprain. But he wasn’t much of a factor when he did play.
Big nod to the Eagles with A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. This might be the offensive match-up the Eagles most need to win.
Mahomes has decent targets in Marquez Valdes-Scantling, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Giants reject Kadarius Toney. They’re adequate but not in the Brown-Smith league.
Travis Kelce, like his brother Jason, plays like the Hall of Fame he one day will be. He is targeted often and he catches often. He needs to be the Eagles’ main focus in the secondary.
Dallas Goedert is outstanding. When he was injured on Nov. 14, he led all tight ends in receptions. Goedert wins most tight end match-ups but not this one.
This has been the Eagles’ strength all season. All five starters are Pro Bowlers or Pro Bowl alternatives. They have to protect Hurts and provide ample room for the backs to run.
The Chiefs also are loaded on the line, one of Reid’s specialties. Left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., center Creed Humphrey and right guard Joe Thuney also are Pro Bowlers.
This is another strength of the Eagles, especially at cornerback with Darius Slay and James Bradberry. They will have to play at their best against Mahomes.
The Chiefs’ secondary has been injured and forced to play rookies. Patchwork might be OK against a lesser quarterback and receivers, but this is an area Hurts might exploit.
Another Eagles strength. They are deep and able to rotate and keep players fresh. They are talented upfront with Super Bowl veterans Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham, along with edge-linebacker Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Javon Hargrave, Robert Quinn, Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph.
Chris Jones is a difference-maker for the Chiefs. If the Eagles’ skilled offensive line can contain Jones and Frank Clark, the offense might cook.
T.J. Edwards calls the defensive signals and finished seventh in tackles. Kyzir White has provided strong run support and pass coverage.
The Chiefs’ linebackers don’t have an all-star player but they are hitters and swarm the ball.
The Eagles’ special teams struggled deep into November, then suddenly started making tackles and containing coverage. Harrison Butker and Jake Elliott are both excellent kickers. One note of concern: Eagles punt returner Britain Covey showed up on the injury report Friday with a hamstring. He is listed as questionable.