Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- The most underrated aspect of this game is the fact that two highly adaptive coaching staffs (on both sides of the ball) have had two weeks to plan for this matchup.
- Kadarius Toney, Patrick Mahomes, Jerick McKinnon, Isiah Pacheco, and Juju Smith-Schuster all participated in Wednesday’s practice for the Chiefs in some capacity.
- Reports from Chiefs camp stated that Toney was “running all over the field.”
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire was activated from injured reserve for the Chiefs ahead of the Super Bowl, while Mecole Hardman was sent right back to the list, the latter of whom will miss the contest.
- The Eagles’ injury fortune continued through the playoffs as they headed into the Super Bowl with a healthy roster.
- The Eagles rank first in first-half pace of play and first in situation-neutral pace of play, while the Chiefs rank sixth in first-half pace of play and third in situation-neutral pace of play – interestingly enough, both teams rank 21st or lower in second-half pace of play this year.
- Both teams have absolutely elite pass rushes, which is something that is not garnering as much national attention as it probably should here.
How kansas city Will Try To Win ::
I’m going to start the exploration of the Chiefs’ side of this one by directing the reader back to the first bullet point in the ‘Game Overview’ section above. And while we have a very robust sample of the Chiefs leaning into an aggressive passing game (albeit primarily of the short-field variety) this season, the truth of the matter is their coaching staff (the big dogs – Andy Reid, Eric Bieniemy, and Steve Spagnuolo) is one of the more dynamic in the league, capable of both pregame design and in-game management based around what their opponent is giving them. It only makes sense that we then must understand the Eagles’ defense before we continue here. The Eagles were right around league average in blitz rate and man coverage rates this season but were able to hold opposing wide receivers to the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game behind one of the top secondaries in the league and were able to generate tremendous pressure up front from an elite front four through organic pressure, finishing the season with 70 sacks (two shy of the single-season NFL record) and an extreme 25.5% pressure rate (second in the league behind only Dallas). Combine that defensive identity with the fact that the Chiefs are severely banged up at the wide receiver position, and we’re left with a likeliest game plan that involves the same quick hits and layered design that we’ve seen for most of the season, albeit with a likely increased emphasis on getting the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’ hands quickly. That means the Chiefs are likely to be relegated to winning through sustained drives, marching the field, and capitalizing on any bump to field position through things like turnovers generated or three-and-outs from the Eagles.
Things get tricky/messy when we get to the backfield. It is no secret that the Chiefs led the league in pass rate over expectation this season – a secondary result of that pass-heavy identity was a team that averaged only 24.6 rush attempts per game this year, with 3.4 of those per game coming from recently-crowned MVP Patrick Mahomes. Furthermore, Clyde Edwards-Helaire was recalled to action after being activated from the league’s injured reserve last week. There’s no way of knowing for certain what the split in snap rates will look like amongst Jerick McKinnon, Isiah Pacheco, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire here, particularly considering the three had wildly changing snap rates throughout the season. With all three healthy to start the season, the Chiefs utilized all three in meaningful roles in five of the first ten games of the season before being forced into a two-headed backfield after CEH was placed on IR. During those first ten games, a single back played more than 50% of the offensive snaps on six different occasions – four times for McKinnon and once each for Pacheco and Edwards-Helaire. I’m spending so much time on this backfield because it presents one of the non-prohibitive matchups for the Chiefs this week against a relative weakness of the Philadelphia defense. The biggest problem, at least for fantasy purposes, is that any one of these three feasibly could emerge as the “lead back,” largely dependent on game flow and who develops the “hot hand.” Theoretically, the backs (or, more specifically, the backfield as a whole) should see ample opportunity to remain relevant in a game plan that likely involves a “march the field” mindset and could be one of the best efficiency the Chiefs experience behind one of the league’s top offensive lines. The pure rushing matchup yields a well above average 4.68 net-adjusted line yards metric against an Eagles defense that overperformed their underlying metrics against the run this season, holding opposing backs to just 4.36 yards per carry. One thing I’m sure Andy and company have paid attention to is the fact that the Eagles ranked dead last in power success rate against this year, which theoretically should influence the Chiefs’ play calling on third and fourth and short situations.
The Chiefs were forced to play the entirety of the second half of the Conference Championship game with only Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore, and Marcus Kemp at wide receiver after Justin Watson missed with an illness and three wide receivers left early with an injury during the game (Juju Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman, and Kadarius Toney). Hardman was placed back on injured reserve after aggravating his hip/core injury, but Juju, Watson, Moore, and Toney are currently expected to play after returning to full practices on Thursday. The best way to think about this group of wide receivers is to place them into skillset groupings. Watson and MVS hold very similar skillsets, so while both are listed as starters on the depth chart, expect them to share what should be the primary downfield role for the Chiefs (in an extremely difficult matchup for downfield passing, considering the high-pressure rate and back end talent on the Philadelphia defense). Juju should return to a near-every-down role as the primary, intermediate option over the middle of the field. Finally, Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney should share the gadget and short area role, likely being the primary pieces to see schemed usage through the air over the short areas of the field. It goes without saying that Travis Kelce is the ultimate weapon through the air on this offense, and it just so happens that he also presents the best on-paper matchup to move the ball for the Chiefs through the air. And while not necessarily a problem for his fantasy value due to his heavy team target market share, his short-to-intermediate usage means he requires volume and touchdowns to drive his fantasy value. The matchup, likely offensive design (march the field), and role on this team just work out to provide yet another path for that to transpire for Kelce here. Finally, the Chiefs have increased their incorporation of 12-personnel sets over the second half of the season, keeping both Noah Gray and Jody Fortson in consideration for the Showdown slate. Tight end Blake Bell was held inactive in the Conference Championship game, with Jody Fortson activated from injured reserve ahead of the game, and I would expect the same here.