Let’s get to it...
AP: What do the Chiefs need to be concerned about in the Eagles front seven?
BGN: On the risk of sounding arrogant: almost everyone? The Eagles have a lot of talent up front. Brandon Graham is a beast at defensive end. He led the NFL in combined pressures last year (sacks, hurries, and knockdowns) and picked right up where he left off by terrorizing Kirk Cousins in Week 1. He dominated Washington right tackle Morgan Moses all game long. Vinny Curry, first-round pick Derek Barnett, and Chris Long are also more than capable pass rushers. They’ve all shown signs of being able to generate pressure. In the middle of the line, the Eagles have Tim Jernigan and Fletcher Cox. Jernigan put a huge hit on Cousins after using a swim move to beat one of Washington’s guards. Cox forced a strip-sack while rushing the quarterback. The defensive line is for real.
The linebackers are pretty good, too. Nigel Bradham is a solid starter, but Jordan Hicks is the big name to watch. He’s logged 12 takeaways in 25 career starts, which is pretty ridiculous. Mychal Kendricks only plays about a third of the snaps but he’s effective as a blitzer.
Speaking of the blitz, Jim Schwartz sent extra rushers with more frequency than he showed last season. I don’t know if he’ll continue to do that, but it’s something to keep an eye on. The Eagles can already get pressure without blitzing. When they bring even more players, it’s a lot to handle.
AP: What is the significance of losing starting CB Ronald Darby to an injury?
BGN: Darby is the Eagles’ best cornerback, without a doubt. Losing him for this game specifically is going to be really tough. Not many corners can run with Tyreek Hill, but Darby may have stood a fighting chance. He’s pretty fast as well. Philadelphia’s corners surprisingly stepped up nice when Darby went down last week. But I doubt that’ll hold up on a week-to-week basis, especially when teams have more time to game plan around exploiting those matchups.
AP: How do the Eagles usually do against tight ends?
BGN: Tight ends typically aren’t an issue for the Eagles’ defense. As I mentioned earlier, Hicks is one of the league’s best coverage linebackers. The Eagles could use him to cover Travis Kelce this week. Malcolm Jenkins did a nice job of limiting Jordan Reed in Week 1.
AP: Do you miss Andy yet?
BGN: Why would I? The Eagles have the next best thing in his mentee, Doug Pederson.
Ha, but seriously, sometimes yes and sometimes no. I miss the regular season success the Eagles had under Andy. I don’t miss the frustrating inability to get over the hump in the playoffs.
There’s no doubt Andy is a great coach. I’m glad to see he’s doing well in KC. I certainly don’t miss him in the sense that I think the Eagles should have kept him because he needed to move on and reinvent himself. I was skeptical he’d be able to do that, at first, but he’s certainly done just that.
I do hope Big Red gets a ring before he calls it quits one day.
AP: What's your score prediction?
BGN: 27-20, Chiefs.
The Eagles didn’t play well on the road last year and I know Arrowhead is one of the toughest places in the league to play.
Tyreek Hill is a major mismatch for the Eagles’ secondary. He should be able to get some big plays against them. Meanwhile, the Eagles are still sorting through some offensive issues due to inconsistent blocking and a very poor run game.
I think the Eagles will show good fight and make this competitive but ultimately the Chiefs will prove too tough to beat at home.