Last week was a big one for both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs. KC got the big win on opening night, and Philly won 30-17 on the road over the Washington Redskins. Both Alex Smith (28-35, 368 yards, 4 TD) and Carson Wentz (26-39, 307 yards, 2 TD, INT) enjoyed positive starts to the season and oversaw big road wins for their respective squads.
On Sunday, Doug Pederson will travel to Arrowhead to take on Andy Reid’s Chiefs, his employer of the previous three seasons. In Pederson’s first game the Eagles offense did a lot of things that helped make Alex Smith so successful. Taking advantage of their tight end (Zach Ertz caught 8 passes for 93 yards) and giving his quarterback lots of high percentage throws kept the Philadelphia offense on schedule, despite Wentz’s inconsistent ball placement and turnovers (one interception returned score, and fumble lost on a backward pass).
The Chiefs lost just twice at home last season, and on Sunday, I expect them to win, thanks to these five things I noticed when watching the Eagles/Redskins game, paired with what I had already saw in the Chiefs victory:
1. Carson Wentz is not Tom Brady
The Chiefs might have humiliated the Patriots, but they didn’t force one turnover. That will change on Sunday. Wentz not only tossed a pick six to Redskins OLB Ryan Kerrigan, but had a bevy of other passes that should have been picked off. Going against Marcus Peters, Ron Parker, Daniel Sorensen, and Terrance Mitchell, he won’t be so lucky. Even without Eric Berry, Bob Sutton’s defenses always create turnovers. Pederson benefited from those, now he’ll cringe as they sink his offense.
2. Eagles linebackers in space
Kareem Hunt caught five passes for 98 yards and a pair of scores in his NFL debut, and I think he’ll see a fair share of catches on Sunday. Eagles linebackers were consistently beaten underneath on shorter routes on Sunday, especially by Redskins running back Chris Thompson (he caught four passes for 52 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown). Smith excelled last Thursday delivering quick strikes underneath, and he could see similar success again.
3. Jalen Mills
Being targeted 15 times is bad. Giving up 10 catches might be worse. Granted, he didn’t allow a touchdown, but allowing that kind of completion percentage would make any quarterback happy, especially one that doesn’t mind taking the short completion. Philadelphia played a lot of off coverage on Sunday, which led to Kirk Cousins completing a host of post and corner routes underneath the deep coverage. If they play the same type of coverages on Sunday, it could be a long day for them again.
4. The Offensive Line
Alex Smith didn’t have a career day last Thursday Night in a bottle. Kareem Hunt didn’t set NFL records running by himself. The Chiefs offensive line, despite not being considered one of the league’s top units, displayed an incredible amount of patience, synergy, and toughness in their blowout win over the reigning champs. This Sunday will be a far stiffer test, going against All-Pro defensive end/tackle Fletcher Cox and the criminally underrated Brandon Graham. If the Chiefs front five has their way, 42 points will become a common score for this Chiefs team.
5. Andy Reid
The Eagles may know Reid better than anyone else because their Head Coach worked for us for three years, but nobody in football game plans like Big Red. After having an entire offseason to prep for the Patriots, he calmly watched Alex Smith morph into Tom Brady. Now, he gets ten days to prepare for the Eagles. They aren’t nearly as talented as the Patriots, and in their home opener, I think he’ll be ready for anything Philadelphia has to offer. Andy Reid has lost the home opener just twice in his KC tenure.
Prediction: Tyreek Hill stretches his NFL record of a touchdown of 60 or more yards to six consecutive games, and while Smith comes back down to earth (slightly), the Chiefs once again come away victorious, 31-21.
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