PHOENIX (AP) — Andy Reid already proved he can win the big game in Kansas City after coming up short several times throughout his 14 seasons in Philadelphia.
Leading the Chiefs to a victory over the Eagles in the Super Bowl on Sunday would further cement his Hall of Fame credentials and add to his legacy.
“Listen, I had 14 great years there,” Reid said about Philadelphia, where he won more games than any coach in franchise history. “I loved every minute of it. It’s a great organization. I still am close with the people there. It was great to see the kids that we had drafted that are now these veteran players — All-Pro players — on that team. I had the chance to give them a hug, and now we go our separate ways and get ready to play.”
Reid, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs (16-3) are aiming to win their second Super Bowl championship in four seasons. They beat the San Francisco 49ers three years ago and lost to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2020 season.
Jalen Hurts and the Eagles (16-3) present a tough challenge. They have a dynamic offense and a stingy defense with both units being powered by dominant lines.
The matchup is filled with intriguing storylines beyond Reid facing his former team. Chiefs All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce and Eagles All-Pro center Jason Kelce will become the first brothers to play each other in the Super Bowl. It’ll be the first Super Bowl with two Black starting QBs. Also, Reid didn’t retain now-Eagles coach Nick Sirianni when he was an assistant in Kansas City in 2013.
All that filled stories, created content and increased the hype leading into the game.
But, on the field, this is a true matchup of heavyweights. It’s the first time the NFL’s two No. 1 seeds are here since the Eagles beat the New England Patriots 41-33 to capture their first Lombardi Trophy five years ago.
The teams are evenly matched. The Chiefs led the NFL in scoring offense and total yards. The Eagles were third overall in both categories. The Eagles have an edge on defense with the No. 2 ranked unit while the Chiefs are 11th.
Philly’s defense is so nasty Mahomes couldn’t even point to one standout area.
“They’re great everywhere,” Mahomes said. “It’s hard to pick one. I’d probably say the defensive line because they’re on an historic sack rate, and the way they’re able to get to the quarterback. Everybody knows that everything starts up front. So that’ll be a great challenge for our offensive line to try to do what they can in the run game and pass game of protecting and run-blocking. But they got great DBs, great linebackers.”
Mahomes and Hurts finished 1-2 in voting for the AP NFL MVP. Both have been dealing with through injuries. Mahomes played the AFC championship game with a badly sprained ankle. Hurts missed two games late in the season with a shoulder injury.
They’ll go all-out one more time and have plenty of time to rest in the offseason. Whichever QB gets better protection will likely determine the winner.
“If you slip up, he can make you pay with his legs, his arm, anyway he can,” Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay said. “We just have to approach it as he’s a weapon. This week we know he’s a big key for us. We have to slow him down.”
Mahomes can do it all, too. He won his second MVP award by a landslide, taking 48 of 50 first-place votes. The extra week off has helped his ankle heal so the Eagles will have to be wary of his ability to create plays with his legs.
“He’s one of the quarterbacks in the league that I haven’t been able to sack yet or haven’t gotten to yet,” said Eagles edge rusher Haason Reddick, who was a one-man wrecking crew in the NFC title game against the 49ers. “If I’m able to get to him and I get him in the Super Bowl, that’s going to be historic for me.”