If the Eagles’ plan to win tonight’s Super Bowl is to outscore Patrick Mahomes, they better have a Plan B.
Trying to outscore the NFL’s best and most creative quarterback sounds like the one thing you *don’t* want to try.
The Eagles’ defense vs. Mahomes is the most intriguing match-up of the game and, for the Eagles, the most important.
The Eagles aren’t going to stop the league MVP. No team has. But they better contain him. They better keep him in the pocket. If Mahomes is creating his usual magic, tonight will be a long one for the Eagles.
Expect Mahomes to be everything, everywhere, all at once. The game could be decided on strength vs. strength, and that potentially would make for a great game.
- The Chiefs have the NFL’s top-ranked offense; the Eagles have the second-ranked defense.
- The Chiefs are ranked first in passing; the Eagles have top-ranked passing defense.
- The Chiefs have the top-ranked scoring team (29.2); the Eagles have the eighth-ranked scoring defense (20.2).
Another factor: Mahomes’ offense is the best Eagles have seen this season. The only quarterback comparable to Mahomes they’ve played this season? Aaron Rodgers, who was 38 when the Eagles beat the Packers in November.
EAGLES WILL SCORE
Mahomes is 1-1 in Super Bowls — beating the 49ers and losing to the Bucs. Mahomes was great against the Niners — leading KC to 21 points in the game’s final 6:13.
The Bucs held Mahomes to a 26-of-49 passing game with two interceptions and three sacks. Mahomes is great but he isn’t perfect.
The Eagles will put up points. Their offense averaged 28 in the season and 34.5 in the playoffs.
If you use 24 points as a reasonable goal, can the Eagles’ defense hold Mahomes to fewer points? That’s the ballgame, as I see it.
Kansas City was held below 24 points only four times this season.
- 20-17 loss to the Colts
- 24-20 loss to the Bills
- 20-17 win over the Titans
- 23-20 win over the Bengals in the AFC title game
RUN THE BALL
An effective Eagles’ running game, ranked fifth in the NFL, going against the Chiefs’ eighth-ranked rush defense would help keep the ball out of Mahomes’ hands.
Three-and-outs by the Eagles’ offense are playing right into Kansas City’s hands.
MAHOMES TOUGH TO CATCH
Mahomes presents unique issues. The Eagles led the league with 70 sacks. Can they get to Mahomes and bring him to the ground?
Mahomes is elusive, slippery and fearless. He is able to extricate himself, Houdini-like, from charging defenses. Not only does he get out of trouble, he often makes plus-yards with sideways, underhanded or flip-of-the-wrist tosses.
Most of this genius comes when he’s outside the pocket.
His vision is incredible. He seems to know where every receiver is and he makes snap judgments to pass the ball to the right guy.
No one in the NFL — now or ever — has enjoyed that kind of skill-set. Jalen Hurts is effective on the move, but he’s often running the ball. Mahomes is unpredictably brilliant.
Mahomes might be able to blunt the pass-rush and the sacks on which the Eagles rely. The Eagles’ success was to stop the run and put offenses in likely-pass situations. Then, they turn loose their effective pass-rush to bring heat and utilize their ball-hawking skills.
Mahomes had 12 interceptions this year and 13 last year, so he’s not infallible. (Narrator: He also led the league with 41 touchdown passes and 5,250 passing yards in 2022.)
You better believe Chiefs coach Andy Reid, with two weeks to prepare, will muster up strategies and formations to best utilize Mahomes.
Reid loves trick plays and screen passes. The quickest way to deter a pass-rush is to toss a screen pass over the defenders’ heads that turns into a back-breaking, 18-yard gain.
Defensive linemen make their charge and beat their opponent. Mahomes is right in their crosshairs. Then, he gently lofts the ball right over the top to a speedy back.
Kansas City led the NFL with 2,797 yards after catch. The Eagles were eighth with 2,113 yards. Trading Tyreek Hill to Miami didn’t slow down the Chiefs’ offense.
Mahomes played with a high ankle sprain against the Bengals. He played well, despite an almost constant limp.
The Eagles need to hit Mahomes and hit him some more. No quarterback operates with the same effectiveness while being pursued and knocked around — although Mahomes is better than most.
That goes back to getting him on the ground. Sack him and put the Chiefs in some third-and-17 situations.
Over the years, when the Chiefs lose, it’s because defenses harass Mahomes. The Eagles are equipped for that task.
Look, Mahomes is going to get his. The Eagles have to make sure he doesn’t get it all.