Key matchups to watch when the Eagles clash with the Chiefs

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New York Giants linebacker Tomon Fox (49) applies pressure on Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

While it’s only been 11 days since the Eagles sent 49ers players and fans into conspiracy central, it feels as though wait for the Super Bowl has been much longer. Two days left until we find out which unit has the advantage over the opposite unit and will take home the Lombardi Trophy. Which match ups will be the keys to victory for the Eagles? Let’s take a look:

Chiefs Linebackers vs Jalen Hurts

Going into the 49ers game, the talk was about how Fred Warner can change a game on his own with his run stopping ability and his coverage ability on WRs. He showed just that in the Cowboys game:

However, when it came time to defending Jalen Hurts, Warner froze:

Quarterbacks rushed an average of 5.4 times vs the Chiefs defense in 2022, tied for third most in the league. The Chiefs defense were also last in fantasy points allowed to QBs in the red zone.

While Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton has been great this year against the RPO (73.4 grade per PFF), fellow linebacker Willie Gay has not (53.4 grade). Both Bolton and Gay have seen the lion’s share of snaps at LB due to defensive scheme so they will have to do the heavy lifting against a QB who has shown that he can freeze one of the best at the position.

Chiefs DBs vs Eagles WRs

This is an obvious one that’s been previewed by others, but it’s worth mentioning again. The Chiefs secondary allowed four 20+ receptions in their game vs the Bengals, but luckily were able to limit the damage after. A.J. Brown has 23 20+ yard receptions this year and six for over 40. DeVonta Smith has 18 over 20 and four over 40. With both being magicians with the ball in their hands after the catch, the Chiefs young secondary will have their work cut out for them. While the DBs did well against the Bengals’ stars, the Eagles duo is another tier above.

Jonathan Gannon vs Patrick Mahomes

Gannon has come under fire throughout the year for his schemes, and non-schemes, in various games. However, he has become the darling of Philadelphia over the past few weeks. His viral “we’re going to f- gut these guys” video has turned many, if not all, of the haters into devout believers that he could do no wrong.

Well, here comes Patrick Mahomes. The superstar quarterback is hobbled, but who isn’t at this point? Mahomes has the ability to make every defensive coordinator look like he should be on the street looking for a job. This isn’t Daniel Jones or Brock Purdy/Josh Johnson anymore.

The lone remaining criticism of Gannon is that he hasn’t had that “big QB win” under his belt. The “who has he beat” narratives are loud and can be silenced with a win over the best QB in the league.

Eagles safeties vs Travis Kelce

How do you stop a player with no weakness? You pray and you don’t allow LBs to cover him.

There’s little doubt Gannon will deploy a heavy dose of Chauncey Gardner-Johnson on Travis Kelce on Sunday, but Marcus Epps, Reed Blankenship, and K’Von Wallace better be ready to help over the top on him.

Kelce had his worst game of the season vs the Bengals on December 4th, and it was due to a heavy dose of Jessie Bates on him as well has gang tackling by the entire Bengals defense (led to a fumble).

Kelce is a generational talent, as is Mahomes, but the right scheming will limit his damage

Boston Scott vs Steve Spagnuolo

Spagnuolo is a former Giants defensive coordinator. Someone tell Boston.

AP Photo/Chris Szagola