After the way this NFL season has come and gone in the blink of an eye, the result of the playoffs is not such a crazy one, with the top seeds in each conference making the 2024 Super Bowl. The 14-3 Philadelphia Eagles will take on the 14-3 Kansas City Chiefs in Scottsdale, Arizona next Sunday. The Eagles are currently a 1.5-point favorite. However, the paths the two teams took to get to this point were pretty different.
The Chiefs came into the season as one of the favorites to make it to and win the Super Bowl because of history and experience. The team has won seven straight AFC West titles and has made it to at least the AFC Championship game every year that Patrick Mahomes has been starting (since 2018). Mahomes appears to be on his way to winning his second NFL MVP with him being the odds-on favorite at -750 to win the award as it currently stands. He led the league with 5,250 passing yards and 41 touchdowns this season.
As great as he was this year, he did not do it alone. Mahomes was one of seven Chiefs to be selected to the Pro Bowl. The list includes tight end Travis Kelce, left tackle Orlando Brown, center Creed Humphrey, guard Joe Thuney, defensive tackle Chris Jones and punter Tommy Townsend. They entered the playoffs with the conference’s only first-round bye. In the divisional round, they outlasted Jacksonville 27-20 after failing to play up to their potential. The next week they were able to clear the thorn in their side that was the Cincinnati Bengals and Joe Burrow, with a 23-20 win. The talk all week was that the game would be played in “Burrowhead Stadium” because they had never lost to Kansas City in three matchups. The game was close throughout, but the Bengals shot themselves in the foot multiple times with penalties and turnovers and often got the short end of the stick when it came to officiating. Nonetheless, KC made it to their third Super Bowl in four years.
In the NFC, the Eagles were a question mark coming into the year as many people were not sold on the idea of QB Jalen Hurts as a legitimate starter, despite bringing the birds to the playoffs in 2021. He proved all of the doubters wrong by being named second-team All-Pro and leading the Eagles to start undefeated through the first nine games. Hurts only lost one game in the year and set the QB rushing touchdowns record with 15. Like the Chiefs, the Eagles had a loaded roster and led the league with eight Pro Bowl selections, including Hurts, running back Miles Sanders, center Jason Kelce, right tackle Lane Johnson, left guard Landon Dickerson, cornerback Darius Slay, defensive end Haason Reddick and wide receiver AJ Brown.
The last two were massive offseason acquisitions with Reddick coming via free agency from Carolina and Brown coming via trade from Tennessee. Both of them had career years and were crucial in getting the Eagles to the spot they are. Just as the Chiefs did, the Eagles got the bye in their conference. Unlike Kansas City, however, they dominated the opposition in both of their playoff games. They smoked their NFC East rivals, the New York Giants, 38-7 in their first game. The next week they pounded the San Francisco 49ers 31-7 where they knocked Brock Purdy out of the game via an injury.
The most interesting matchup of Super Bowl 58 comes with the largely young secondary of the Chiefs versus the loaded receiver core of the Eagles. The only starting corner that has a lot of experience is L’Jarius Sneed and he is currently questionable with a concussion. Others tasked to stop AJ Brown, Devonta Smith and Quez Watkins include rookie Trent McDuffie, Jaylen Watson and Joshua Williams. The question for the Eagles is who is going to stop matchup nightmare Travis Kelce? The most likely is a combination of safeties CJ Gardner-Johnson and Reed Blankenship. Both teams have phenomenal offensive and defensive lines, although some would argue that the Eagles have a slight edge in both, as the Eagles set the record with the most sacks in a single season with 78. I expect this game to be a shootout with both teams having juggernaut offenses.