Super Bowl LVII.
I remember watching my first one, Super Bowl XXV. Scott Norwood of the Buffalo Bills missed a potential game-winning 47-yard field goal that led to a New York Giants 20-19 victory.
The game was held at Tampa Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on January 27, 1991, and was the last time a Super Bowl would be held at Tampa Stadium. A memorable performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Whitney Houston and the Florida Orchestra preceded the game.
I am blessed to write and pick on this one like others. Before I got to my coin flip of a pick, it was that hard.
Here are some notes that stand out from the Kansas City Chiefs out of the AFC and Philadelphia Eagles out of the NFC, along with keys to the game for both teams to win.
It marks the sixth time since 2000 that the two No. 1 seeds will meet in the Super Bowl.
The Chiefs became the third team with at least 12 regular-season wins in five consecutive regular seasons, joining New England (eight straight seasons from 2010-17) and Indianapolis (seven consecutive seasons from 2003-09).
The Eagles, who led the NFL with 70 sacks, and Chiefs, who ranked second with 55, combined for 125 regular-season sacks, the most-ever by Super Bowl opponents. Philadelphia is looking to become the sixth team to lead the league in sacks and win the Super Bowl in the same season. The Eagles, who enter Super Bowl LVII with a single-season NFL record 39 rushing touchdowns, can become the fourth team since 1990 to lead the NFL in rushing touchdowns and win the Super Bowl in the same season, joining Dallas (Super Bowl XXX), Denver (Super Bowl XXXIII) and Washington (Super Bowl XXVI).
Patrick Mahomes, who led the NFL with 5,250 passing yards, is looking to become the first player to throw for at least 5,000 yards and win the Super Bowl in the same season. He is set to face the league’s top pass defense in Philadelphia, who allowed 179.8 passing yards per game. There have been two previous instances of the passing yards leader and the top passing defense meeting in a Super Bowl, each won by the team with the top-ranked pass defense [Super Bowl XLVIII (Pro Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning vs. Seattle) and Super Bowl XXXVII (Rich Gannon vs. Tampa Bay).
Jalen Hurts can become the fourth starting quarterback under the age of 25 to win a Super Bowl, joining Ben Roethlisberger (23 years and 340 days old in Super Bowl XL), Mahomes (24 years and 138 days old in Super Bowl LIV), and Tom Brady (24 years and 184 days old in Super Bowl XXXVI). Hurts is 16-1 as a starting quarterback this season, including the playoffs, the sixth-highest winning percentage by a quarterback in a single season in the Super Bowl era (minimum ten starts).
Travis Kelce enters Super Bowl LVII ranked second in receptions (127) and receiving yards (1,467) and tied for second in touchdown receptions (15) in postseason history, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in all three categories.
Mahomes has thrown 13 postseason touchdown passes to Kelce, trailing only the pair of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski (15) for the most postseason touchdowns between a quarterback-receiver pairing in NFL history.
Hurts, who has 15 rushing touchdowns including the postseason – the most in a single season by a quarterback in NFL history – and running back Miles Sanders (13 rushing touchdowns, including playoffs) are the first teammate duo each with at least 13 rushing touchdowns in a single season in NFL history, including the postseason. During the regular season, wide receivers A.J. Brown (88 receptions for 1,496 yards) and Devonta Smith (95 receptions for 1,196 yards) became the first duo in Philadelphia franchise history with at least 1,000 receiving yards in the same season. The Eagles look to join the 2006 Indianapolis Colts (Pro Football Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne) as the only teams with two players each with at least 80 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards in the regular season and win the Super Bowl in the same year.
The NFL is in good hands regarding the future of the quarterbacks playing in the league. Super Bowl LVII featuring Mahomes and Hurts is a prime example of that.
The Chiefs’ season was about redemption.
In the offseason, wide receiver Tyreek Hill took his talents to the Miami Dolphins. Kansas City in the AFC led the division in scoring, with total yards. Head coach Andy Reid knows how to make adjustments.
It starts and ends with Mahomes. Chiefs will have to protect Mahomes against an Eagle defensive line led by Fletcher Cox and Javon Hardgrave, putting that healing ankle of Mahomes to the test.
Haason Reddick enters Super Bowl LVII with 19.5 sacks, including the postseason, tied for the fourth-most sacks by a player entering the Super Bowl since 1982. With Reddick (16 regular-season sacks), defensive end Brandon Graham (11), defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (11), and defensive end Josh Sweat (11), the Eagles became the first team since 1982 with four players each recording at least ten sacks in the same season.
The Chiefs’ offensive line has their work cut out for them.
Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco will need to continue to run the ball well for the Chiefs’ offense to be physical against the Eagles defensive front.
For the Chiefs to slow down the Eagles’ defensive line, they will need to continue to run the screen well as they have all season. Mahomes is mobile enough to make throws on the run.
The Chiefs’ defense line will have to play their best game all season if they can’t stop the run and need the safeties to come and help. It will be a long day trying to cover the two Eagles wide receivers, Brown and Smith.
Chiefs’ defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will have to disguise what they are doing versus the Eagles’ offense. If they load the box they will pass to their top receivers if they show pass coverage the Eagles will run the ball. Make Hurts and the Eagles’ offense more decisive in the offensive play calling.
Hurts is ranked sixth versus man coverage; he is ranked 19th versus the zone. Manipulating the defense pre-snap will slow down the Eagles’ offense.
The clear advantage the Chiefs have in this game is the experience of being at the Super Bowl, but the Eagles roster is talented on offense and defense.
The Eagles began the season as Super Bowl hopefuls. An 8-0 start making them the favorites.
The Eagles’ offensive line is impressive, led by their center Jason Kelce. They help the Eagles run the ball and play action to pass the ball. One thing that is underrated for the eagles is the quarterback draw.
Can Hurts throw the ball deep since the shoulder injury? He passes the eye test. The Eagles will need him to make critical passes to win the game and not rely on the run.
The defensive line gets all the praise. But the defensive backs need to get the credit they deserve. James Bradberry and Darius Slay are talented. They can hang in one-on-one coverage when they add pressure on Mahomes. The Eagles’ defense can’t give up big yards after the catch to the Chiefs’ offense.
The Eagles scouted tight end Kelce; the game plan of stopping him will need to work for the Eagles to have a chance.
The best player playing in the game fully healthy is Mahomes. Recovery and healing would benefit though he is not 100 percent. Hurts has the best defense on his side in the game.
Kansas City Chiefs win Super Bowl LVII over the Philadelphia Eagles 27-24.
NFL Communications contributed to this preview