Super Bowl LVII Preview
Super Bowl 57 has the AFC’s top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs facing off against the NFC’s top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles.
The Chiefs cruised through the regular season finishing 14-3, before knocking off the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Divisional Round and avenging last year’s AFC Championship defeat by beating the Cincinnati Bengals.
The star of it all was quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who captured his second career MVP.
Mahomes led the league in passing yards with 5,250 and passing touchdowns with 41, all without Tyreek Hill, who was traded to the Dolphins in the offseason.
Despite signing Juju Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling to try and fill Hill's void, All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce filled it with a career year.
Kelce had a career-best season with 110 receptions and 12 touchdowns. He also had 1,338 receiving yards falling just 78 yards short of matching his career high 1,416 from 2020.
In the backfield, the Chiefs have a dynamic duo that many wouldn’t have expected before Week 1.
Seventh-round draft pick Isiah Pacheco took over from former first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushing for 830 yards while Jerick Mckinnon has been the primary receiving back, catching 56 passes for 512 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Chiefs offense will not be entering the game at 100% as Mahomes has been dealing with a high ankle sprain that he suffered in the Divisional Round, while Mecole Hardman will miss the game entirely with a pelvis injury.
On defense, the Chiefs are led by a game wrecker on the interior of the defensive line in Chris Jones. Jones had 15.5 sacks, nine and a half more than the second-highest, six from George Karlaftis.
Jones’ matchup with Eagles center Jason Kelce could determine the game, as the Eagles will try to run the ball and control the time of possession to keep Mahomes off the field.
Nick Bolton led the Chiefs with 180 total tackles and will need to hit the gaps to stop the Eagles' rushing attack.
The Eagles flew through the regular season, starting the season 8-0 before eventually finishing 14-3. The green and white destroyed the Giants in the Divisional Round and knocked off the 49ers in the NFC Championship.
The Eagles are led by MVP runner-up Jalen Hurts who would've likely won the award had he stayed healthy for the whole season.
Hurts took a massive leap in year three. He threw for 3,701 yards and 22 touchdowns while adding 760 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground.
A huge reason for the leap was the acquisition of wide receiver A.J. Brown. Brown set a career-high in targets (145), receptions (88) and yards (1,496). He also tied his career high with 11 receiving touchdowns.
Across from Brown, the former Heisman Trophy winner had a breakout campaign. DeVonta Smith had 95 receptions for 1,196 yards and seven touchdowns.
Rounding out the offense tight end, Dallas Goedert continued to be Hurts’ safety blanket while running back Miles Sanders made his first career pro bowl after rushing for 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The Eagles also have one of the most dominant offensive lines in the league, led by Jason Kelce at center and Lane Johnson at right tackle.
The offensive line's ability to get a push will be crucial not only for the run game but for Hurts, as he is still dealing with a shoulder injury that he suffered back in the regular season.
On defense, the Eagles might have one of the league's most complete units.
The Eagles led the league in sacks with 70 and had four players ( Haason Reddick, Javon Hargrave, Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat) with more than 11 sacks.
Reddick was the clear top threat though, as he had 16 sacks, only second in the league to Nick Bosa’s 18.5.
The Eagles' secondary is built to stop Mahomes. Cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry have been lockdown, while C.J. Gardner-Johnson has been a ballhawk at safety.
Look for the Eagles to copy the Buccaneers' formula back in Super Bowl 55, giving Mahomes no time to throw and trusting their secondary to stop Kelce.
Regardless of the outcome, this game is set up to be one of the all-time great Super Bowls, with both squads having a great chance to win their second Lombardi Trophy in the last five years.
Ben Palillo is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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