Sometimes, Super Bowl storylines are forced. It’s almost mandatory for the media to contrive something to feed football fans hungry for news and whatnot.
Not this year. This is silver platter time for the NFL.
Sometimes, stories sizzle. This year’s Super Bowl between the Eagles and Chiefs has some of great storylines in NFL history — all wrapped up in one game.
There are two looooong weeks before the Eagles and Chiefs meet in Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 12. That’s plenty of media and TV time to hype a game that generally needs little public relations push.
Maybe the best storyline is these are two excellent teams, probably the NFL’s best all season. While fans always hope for a superb Super Bowl, they often are disappointed. Eagles-Chiefs has all kinds of potential for a memorable game.
HURTS VS. MAHOMES
This will be the first Super Bowl match-up of starting Black quarterbacks. Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes have been two of the best in the NFL this season. Until Hurts was injured in Week 15, he was considered the MVP favorite along with Mahomes.
Mahomes has been MVP-ish since he became a starter in 2018. He won the Super Bowl in 2019. He is a combination never before seen in the NFL.
His passing and running abilities are complemented by his absolute cleverness in evading trouble. The NFL has never seen such a creative quarterback. He throws no-look passes, underhanded passes, sidearm passes. He throws the ball anyway he can to help his team win.
Hurts is the NFL’s biggest surprise this season. Was he a starter, a back-up, a franchise player? Those were the concerns and questions going into training camp.
Hurts answered those questions emphatically. He put together one of the great seasons in Eagles’ history.
Hurts has improved as a pocket passer from last season. His completion percentage was 66.5 percent. He threw for 3,701 yards and 22 touchdowns.
He gained 760 yards on the ground this season and 13 touchdowns. Many of his yards were on designed runs, not runs out of desperation. That difference is distinct.
Their third-ranked offense runs, literally, through Hurts. The Eagles emphasize run-pass options, where Hurts decides whether to hand off the ball, keep it, or look for a receiver.
Hurts is the youngest starting Super Bowl quarterback at 24.
Unfortunately, Hurts and Mahomes played hurt in the conference championship games. Hurts injured his right shoulder on Dec. 18. His health is improving but he admits he is not 100 percent.
After a shaky return in Week 18, Hurts played well in the divisional game against the Giants. Against the 49ers on Sunday, Hurts was more efficient than spectacular. The Eagles scored 31 points against the NFL’s best defense, gaining 148 yards on 44 carries and scoring all four touchdowns on the ground.
Mahomes suffered a high ankle sprain in the divisional game win over the Jaguars. He limped badly Sunday against the Bengals but still had enough to win.
Both quarterbacks will benefit from the two weeks off before the Super Bowl.
This Super Bowl will be another first — the first time brothers will play against each other.
The Kelce brothers are All-Pro players, legitimate NFL stars.
Eagles center Jason Kelce is a local legend for his leadership and inspired play. He likely is headed to the Hall of Fame.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is the best in the league at his position and another potential Hall of Famer.
“I’ve vested time with both of those two,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said with a laugh. “I feel like I’m part of the family.”
After Kansas City clinched its Super Bowl berth Sunday night, Jason tweeted: Officially done being a Chiefs fan this season!!
In Kansas City, Travis Kelce told reporters:
- “My mom [Donna] can’t lose,” Travis said. “I’ll just leave it at that.
- “It’s going to be an amazing feeling playing against him. Obviously, I respect everybody over there in the Eagles’ organization.
- “You won’t see me talking too much trash because of how much respect and how much I love my brother. But this is definitely going to be an emotional game, that’s for sure.”
In 2013, the Harbaugh brothers coached against each other in the Super Bowl, with John’s Ravens defeating Jim’s 49ers, 34-31.
Of course, the coaching match-up is All-Philly. Reid led the Eagles for 14 years. He is the winningest coach in Eagles history at 130-93-1.
Under Reid, the Eagles won six NFC East titles and lost in the Super Bowl in 2004.
- “I had a great time there. Fourteen years, long time, huh?” Reid told reporters Sunday night. “I’m happy for them. I’m happy for the city.
- “They’re passionate. They love football. I can’t wait ’til Kansas City and Philly clash. It’s going to be awesome. What a great Super Bowl it’ll be.”
Eagles coach Nick Sirianni is 23-11, with two postseason wins. One more win, in two weeks, and he will accomplish something that Reid could not in 14 years in Philadelphia — win the Super Bowl.