We spoke with Brandon Lee Gowton at Bleeding Green Nation — our SBNation sister site covering the Eagles — asking for his top three reasons why Philadelphia could lose Sunday’s game. In the spirit of goodwill, we reciprocated. I gave BGN three reasons why the Chiefs could lose.
Here is what Brandon had to say.
1. Defense: Jonathan Gannon will have no answer for Patrick Mahomes.
Everyone knows the Chiefs have the better quarterback in this matchup. That’s pretty valuable.
The last time Mahomes went up against the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, he completed 80% of his attempts for 278 yards (8.6 average), five touchdowns, one interception, and a 131.0 passer rating.
That said, there is a constant that remains. And that is the question: how will Gannon’s defense hold up against a top-tier quarterback?
In 2021, Mahomes was one of five different quarterbacks to complete at least 80% of his passes against the Eagles. Between 1950 and 2020, Philadelphia had only allowed six quarterbacks to complete at least 80% of their passes. Pretty wild.
Again, there’s reason to believe Gannon has improved since last year. He’s overseeing a unit that ranks first in sacks, first in opponent yards per play, first in Pro Football Focus defensive grading, tied for second in opponent offensive points per game (17.8), tied for fourth in takeaways, fourth in EPA per play, sixth in DVOA, etc. The Eagles have obviously allowed just 14 points through two playoff games thus far. And seven of those came on a drive that started on a short field at the Eagles’ 46-yard line.
But it’s only fair to point out the level of competition that Gannon has gone up against. Here are the quarterbacks the Eagles have faced this season:
Daniel Jones (x3)
Brock Purdy/Josh Johnson/no quarterback
Not exactly a murderer’s row.
Most would say the best two quarterbacks from that list are Rodgers and Prescott.
Rodgers, while playing through an injured thumb before leaving the game with another injury — and his backup Jordan Love — were able to put 33 points on Philadelphia’s defense.
Prescott completed 77% of his attempts for 347 yards (9.9 average), three touchdowns, one interception and a 124.3 passer rating — in addition to rushing six times for 41 yards.
And so there’s fear that Mahomes will thrive against Gannon’s preferred method of defense, which is to sit back, take away the big play and force the opponent to sustain long drives. The Chiefs, who generated the most yards-after-catch in the last 15 years (h/t Sheil Kapadia) could be in a position to really take advantage of an Eagles’ defense that’s struggled with tackling at times. Look no further than Christian McCaffrey breaking through contact to find his way to the end zone in the NFC Championship game.
Honestly, even if Gannon does come up with a great plan of attack against Mahomes, it simply might not be enough. There’s only so much one can do against a player who is expected to go down as the best quarterback to ever play the game.
2. Offense: Jalen Hurts will leave too many plays on the field.
Hurts seems to be operating at less than 100%. He’s normally a pretty effective deep passer who throws with good touch. Since returning from the injury, though, he’s only completed three of his 10 attempts of 20 or more yards. And one of those completions was the DeVonta Smith one-handed grab that would’ve been ruled incomplete if Kyle Shanahan challenged the play.
Hurts got away with overthrowing an open A.J. Brown for a touchdown against the New York Giants in the Divisional Round. Hurts got away with overthrowing an open A.J. Brown for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers.
Hurts will probably not get away with a similar mistake this time around. The margin for error against the Chiefs is going to be much smaller than it was during the Eagles’ first two playoff games.
As is the case with Mahomes recovering from his ankle injury, It’s possible that Hurts will be more effective after having two weeks to rest. Super Bowl Sunday marks 66 days removed from when he first sprained his shoulder. It’s hard to believe that he’ll be sharp as a downfield passer until we really see it happen, though.
3. X-Factor: This is a coin-flip game.
As I type this on Wednesday afternoon, there’s a big part of me that really wishes Sunday was here already. Not to totally invalidate all of our hard work as content creators… but to do exactly that… I can’t help but feel a lot of this preview material is just going to go out of the window once kickoff arrives.
The way I see it, these are the best two teams in the NFL. If this was a series of 10 games instead of just one, I feel like they’d each win five times. This game is going to come down to the wire and the result could be the matter of the ball bouncing in one team’s favor. It’s possible the Eagles are that fortunate team. It’s also entirely possible it’ll be the Chiefs instead.
And if the game plays out like I expect, there’s really no shame in being on the losing side. The Eagles will have lost to arguably the best head coach and quarterback combination of all time. The Chiefs will have lost to an incredibly talented roster that is especially strong and deep in the trenches.
Click here to see the three reasons the Eagles could win the Super Bowl.