On Monday, the Kansas City Chiefs face the Philadelphia Eagles. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Kansas City is favored to win. We welcome Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation — our sister SBNation site covering the Eagles— for Five Questions with the Enemy.
1. How would you assess the Eagles season so far? Has it exceeded expectations?
I think the Eagles entered this season in a really tough spot, expectations wise. There was a lot of room to get worse after a historically great 2022 campaign in which they set many franchise records, including one for games won.
I do believe the weight of expectations has contributed to this season not quite feeling as good as it should. When the Eagles lose (which, unlike every other NFL team, they’ve only done once), it’s a disaster. When they win, it’s expected, and it’s not just about them winning as much as it is expecting them to totally crush the opponent in the process.
I don’t think it’s unfair to hold the Eagles to a high standard; people should reasonably expect them to be one of the very best teams in the NFC. I don’t think it’s unfair to point out their flaws.
But I do think some have taken this 8-1 start for granted. Fans don’t always properly contextualize how other fans feel about their teams. There is no perfect roster out there to envy; every team has their own issues.
And, comparatively speaking, the Eagles are in a great spot after beating the Dallas Cowboys in Week 9. They’re in favorable position to become the first NFC East repeat winner since 2004 and clinch the No. 1 seed for the second straight season.
Admittedly, it would be nice to feel like the Eagles finally played their ‘A-game’ after mostly failing to do so this year. They have an opportunity to step up and earn more credibility with a very tough stretch of games ahead of them. We’re about to see if they’re up for the challenge or if they’ll falter against top competition.
2. The Chiefs have completely flipped the script this season by becoming a defensive team. Do the Eagles do anything differently from last year?
Jonathan Gannon’s defense deservedly gets most of the blame for the Eagles losing Super Bowl LVII.
But their run game was also surprisingly bad in that matchup. Jalen Hurts was able to compensate by gaining 70 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries. Their actual running backs combined for just 45 yards on 17 rushing attempts (2.64 average), however.
I expect the Eagles to attack a Chiefs unit that ranks 20th in run defense DVOA and tied for 26th in opponent yards per carry. Especially with top tackler Nick Bolton missing.
The Eagles’ rushing attack got off to a strong start by producing 164 yards per game over the first five weeks. But they’ve only averaged 86.75 yards per game over the past four weeks. Losing starting right guard Cam Jurgens seemed to hurt them … but he’s back now. The ground game always hasn’t been the same with Jalen Hurts’ mobility looking hampered. But he might be feeling significantly better coming off the bye week.
So, I think there’s some hope for the Eagles to get back to being able to run the football effectively. Doing so could really help them control this game and help keep Patrick Mahomes off the field.
3. Although the spectacle is great, I’m not sure this game will impact either team’s season, whether they win or lose. In fact, the biggest story from this game (for me, anyway) will be the MVP race. Who do you think is best positioned to win the award out of Mahomes and Hurts?
Not to get too into the weeds… but this one might actually matter when it comes to a potential “common games” tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed between the Eagles and Lions. But quite possibly not.
To your point, this game’s winning quarterback will have a clear edge. I lean with Hurts in part because I think it’s easier for the Eagles to get the No. 1 seed in the NFC than it is for the Chiefs to get the No. 1 seed in the AFC. That’s not to slight KC as much as it to point out the Chiefs play in a much more competitive conference.
And while there might be some level of Mahomes fatigue amongst the voters, Hurts may have gained some narrative juice when it comes to battling through his bone bruise. His ability to step up as an extremely efficient passer while not being able to lean on his legs like he normally can has been impressive.
Not to mention he very well could’ve won the award last year if it wasn’t for missing a couple games towards the end of the season.
4. Two questions here: How can teams stop the “Tush Push?” And how can teams slow down the monster that is AJ Brown?
Don’t let the Eagles get into short-yardage situations! Obviously easier said than done.
The only things that have really stopped the tush push this year:
1. The refs mistaking Jason Kelce’s hand for Landon Dickerson’s hand and calling the Eagles for being offside in the neutral zone.
2. The snap getting fumbled.
So, whatever it takes to get those things to happen, that might be the best shot.
As for Brown, well, he’s also pretty inevitable. There’s really no weakness to his game. Even when he’s perfectly covered, as he was during his one-handed touchdown catch against the Commanders, he can still make an awesome play. I don’t think there’s much that can be done to prevent the ball from getting to him.
I do think teams can try to capitalize on his desire to fight for yards after the catch. Fumbling hasn’t been a major issue during his career with just five in 69 games played. But there should be an emphasis on going after the ball once he’s caught it. There’s obviously risk when it comes to focusing on a strip over making the tackle but it might be worth it to try to steal a possession.
5. The Chiefs are slight favorites for this one. Do you agree? Who will win, and do you have a specific prop bet you like in this one?
Specific prop bet: Haason Reddick over on 0.25 sacks at just -110.
Reddick had 19.5 sacks in 19 games before the Super Bowl last year. It’s perplexing that he — and the Eagles defense as a whole — failed to manage to log at least half of a sack against a Chiefs right tackle (Andrew Wylie) who allowed the fourth-most sacks last year. I think Reddick, who is somehow on pace for an even better season in 2023, is out to prove he can get to Mahomes this time around.
And I think it’ll be Reddick who comes up with a big strip-sack to give the Eagles a two-score win in this game. I think Philly just wants this one more badly. And I think they’re due to finally beat Andy Reid after going 0-4 against him thus far.
Mahomes and Reid win a lot; it’s hard to bet against them. They obviously deserve a ton of respect. But Hurts and Sirianni win a lot, too. Eagles 38, Chiefs 28 after a late touhdown to seal the game.
Be sure to check out the answers I gave to their questions by clicking here.