Fresh off a humiliating 41-21 loss on Monday night, the Eagles will face a desperate Chiefs team at the Linc this weekend.
Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes and Co. share the same record as Philly, 1-2. But it goes without saying that these two teams are on completely different ends of the spectrum talent wise.
This is going to be another tough outing for the Birds, whereas Kansas City probably views this as a get right game. Nevertheless, there will be a handful for interesting matchups to keep an eye on throughout this contest. Here are five key matchups to watch when the Eagles meet the Chiefs on Sunday.
LT Andre Dillard vs. DE Chris Jones
Heading into Monday’s game against Dallas, Dillard was viewed as a major liability replacing starting left tackle Jordan Mailata. But surprisingly, he was one of the best Eagles lineman on the field Monday.
Facing off against both Micah Parsons and Randy Gregory, Dillard only allowed two quarterback pressures and two quarterback hurries on 53 pass blocking snaps. He finished the game with a PFF grade of 77.4, the second-highest of any Eagles offensive lineman Monday.
All signs are pointing towards Dillard getting his second straight start this week, with Mailata continuing to miss practice time. He’ll likely face off with Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones in this one, one of the best pass rushers in the league.
On the year, Jones has totaled two sacks, five hurries, one quarterback hit, and eight pressures. Dillard saw a lot of finesse moves facing Parsons and Gregory last week, but he’ll get a full dose of power facing Jones. Dillard has struggled throughout his career with bull rushers, so this will be a true test for the former first-round pick.
TE Travis Kelce vs. Eagles safeties/linebackers
Year in and year out, Kelce is arguably the best tight end in football, and this year has been no different. Through three games, Kelce has recorded 20 receptions on 26 targets for 289 yards and three touchdowns. He’s averaged 14.5 yards per reception and 7.5 yards after the catch. Mahomes also has a 118.9 passer rating when targeting Kelce.
The Eagles did a horrible job containing Cowboys tight end Dan Schultz on Monday. He racked up six receptions for over 100 yards and found the end zone twice. And he did all his damage on just seven targets. Schultz should never be mentioned in the same sentence as Kelce, so it goes without saying that Kansas City will target their tight end early and often throughout this game.
Andy Reid will certainly scheme up ways to get his tight end open, and there’s no doubt Mahomes will be able to get him the ball. With Rodney McLeod possibly back in the lineup this week, the Eagles will be better equipped to deal with Kelce. But shutting him down is a near impossibility.
There’s really no way Jonathan Gannon’s defense will be able to shut down this future Hall of Famer. They’ll just hope to contain him as much as possible.
DT Javon Hargrave vs. LG Joe Thuney
Javon Hargrave is having a Pro Bowl season for the Eagles this year. The second-year Eagle has accumulated three sacks, five hurries, three quarterback hits, and 11 pressures through three games. His PFF overall grade of 84.5 ranks third amongst all interior lineman, and his pass-rush grade of 92.1 ranks second.
For all intents and purposes, he’s been the Eagles best player through the first three games of the season. He’ll face left guard Joe Thuney for the majority of Sunday’s contest, the Chiefs prized offensive line addition from this past offseason.
Thuney has fared well in pass protection this year, only surrendering three pressures on the year. He has struggled a bit in run blocking, while Hargrave has been superb in that area.
If the Eagles are to have any chance at defeating the Chiefs on Sunday, Hargrave is going to need to continue creating havoc in the backfield. His matchup is favorable in this one, so I expect him to do just that.
SLWR Quez Watkins vs. NCB L’Jarius Sneed
I don’t know if Nick Sirianni will get Watkins more involved in the game plan moving forward, but he did admit that he wants more explosiveness in his offense moving forward. Watkins can certainly provide that, his 26.6 yards per reception is evidence.
If there was a game to look Watkins’ way, it’s this one. He’ll likely matchup with nickel corner L’Jarius Sneed for the majority of the game. The second-year corner hasn’t fared that well in pass coverage this year, allowing seven receptions on seven targets and a 114.9 passer rating when targeted.
It would behoove Sirianni to scheme up more plays for Watkins. He can be a real help to Jalen Hurts, who has struggled the past two weeks. Watkins is the most explosive player on this offense right now. It’s time to start allowing him to use his explosiveness to affect games in a big way.
Chiefs passing attack vs. Eagles secondary
After watching the film from Monday’s game, it wouldn’t shock me if Reid opts to run the ball more often than he’s accustomed to to start. But as we all know, Reid likes to pass the ball, and Mahomes is more than capable of carving up any defensive secondary.
Kansas City’s passing attack is predicated on the deep ball. With guys like Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, and Demarcus Robinson, it’s easy to scheme up plays to get these guys in space. Statistically, the Eagles still possess one of the better pass defenses in football. They’ve allowed 545 yards through the air in three games, which is the fifth-lowest in the league. And they’ve only given up 5.6 net yards per completion, tied for sixth-lowest.
Schematically, Gannon’s defense is built to limit big plays. With their two-high safety look, teams have been forced to take more underneath routes and convert long drives. The Cowboys were able to move the ball up and down the field Monday with a balanced attack, but I don’t envision the Chiefs utilizing the run that heavily.
The Eagles average depth of target has been just 6.3 yards this year. If they can force the Chiefs into long, methodical drives, they might have a chance. But regardless, the Cowboys proved that long drives can still pay off against this Eagles defense.
I’m just interested to see if Kansas City sticks to their guns or goes with a more run, screen pass heavy attack. If they choose the former, they’ll be playing into the Eagles defensive strength.
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