The Super Bowl is upon us, and we couldn't have asked for a better matchup to close the 2022 NFL season. It's the No. 1-seed Chiefs against the No. 1-seed Eagles -- a battle between two of the league's most explosive offenses, two of this year's MVP finalists, and both literal and proverbial brothers, with star siblings Travis and Jason Kelce squaring off on the field, and Chiefs coach Andy Reid up against the franchise that employed him for more than a decade.
Most Super Bowls feel like a true coin flip, and this one's no different. Both the Eagles and Chiefs went 14-3 before winning conference titles, and both have showcased elite quarterback play with Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes, respectively. Betting against Mahomes and Reid in any circumstance feels foolish, but then again, no team has been as consistently well-rounded as Philadelphia. So which contender is our early pick to win it all? Find out below.
How to watch the Super Bowl
Date: Sunday, Feb. 12
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Location: State Farm Stadium (Glendale, Arizona)
TV: Fox | Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
Odds: Eagles -2, O/U 49.5
What the Chiefs have going for them
- That guy who wears No. 15: Sprained ankle or not, Patrick Mahomes is unlike anyone else who plays the position. He is the Tom Brady of his time in the sense that he can never be counted out, except of course he also tends to be one of the most effortless athletes on the field at any given time. The guy comfortably led the NFL with a career-high 5,200+ passing yards, casually tossed 40+ touchdowns and then scrambled for clutch yards on a bad leg in the AFC title game, and not a single one of us batted an eye. His presence alone means Kansas City will be in this contest.
- Travis "Always Open" Kelce: That slogan has been attached to the Eagles' A.J. Brown this year, but no one deserves it more than the Chiefs tight end, who is perpetually, inexplicably uncovered over the middle. Mahomes hasn't needed an alpha wide receiver because Kelce serves the same purpose at a different position. He could genuinely campaign for NFL MVP votes, the way he fuels the offense in tandem with Mahomes. No matter who Philly tries to stick on him, he's bound to make noise when it matters most.
- The Chris Jones factor: We heard a lot about San Francisco's front going into the NFC title game, and while DeMeco Ryans' 49ers defense kept the Eagles contained early, Nick Bosa and their pass rush failed to make a demonstrable impact. Jones, however, is a bit of a different animal, working his magic on the interior as a wrecking ball against both the pocket and run game. He'll be up against an Eagles front better fortified than the Bengals' makeshift trenches, but there isn't a D-tackle with more steady push right now other than, say, a healthy Aaron Donald.
What the Eagles have going for them
- Adaptability: Andy Reid's Chiefs powerhouse can move the ball through the air better than anyone. That's what happens when you have Mahomes and Kelce. But the Eagles are the more balanced team, proving they can win both ugly and effortlessly, leaning on both an old-school ground attack and new-school aerial assault. It's an embodiment of their own QB, Jalen Hurts, who has starred not only as a punishing, elusive scrambler but a vastly improved downfield thrower. The air-it-out version of Hurts wasn't visible in the NFC title game, but we know Nick Sirianni and Co. can unlock him.
- Brown & Smith Assoc.: The most lethal wide receiver firm this side of the Bengals' big-name tandem, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith offer wildly different body types but similarly imposing upside as Hurts' top two targets. Brown has been quiet in the playoffs, but his combo of size and speed always commands attention, and he's due for more action against a vulnerable K.C. pass "D." Smith, meanwhile, is an absolute dog despite his thin build -- the type of technically refined alpha capable of taking over a big-stage contest, as he did at Alabama back in the day.
- Terror off the edges: Besides Chris Jones in K.C., there hasn't been a more fearsome front-seven player in these playoffs than Haason Reddick, who's up to 19.5 sacks in his Eagles debut, including the postseason. Mahomes may not be easy to neutralize, but the Buccaneers famously frustrated the star QB when they won the 2020 Super Bowl by collapsing the Chiefs' pocket. Reddick has that type of game-wrecking strength in him, fresh off a killer performance in the NFC title game, where he knocked both Brock Purdy and Josh Johnson from the lineup. As a bonus, he's not the only steady rusher in Jonathan Gannon's stable, with Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham and Javon Hargrave all entering with at least 11 sacks.
Super Bowl prediction
This isn't as simple as comparing lineups on paper. It never is. And for that reason, it's hard to pick against the all-world contingent of Reid, Mahomes and Kelce, which sure seems like the contemporary edition of the once-supreme Patriots trio of Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. When push comes to shove, they often find a way. This writer fully expects Mahomes, in particular, to give Gannon's Eagles "D" more trouble than it's gotten in weeks -- maybe all year -- with slice-and-dice, dink-and-dunk action that prioritizes motion, screens and red-zone trickery.
The X factor, however, comes in the trenches. Both teams possess Pro Bowl-caliber fronts. And both have premium pressure artists -- Chris Jones in Kansas City, and Haason Reddick in Philly. The Eagles just happen to have a deeper rotation. After absorbing 11 QB hits between his first two playoff games this year, Mahomes could be in for a slightly more frantic day here, and in that case, Philly feels a bit better suited to capitalize on a forced downfield shot, boasting handsy and opportunistic starters at corner and safety. Couple that with the Eagles' more consistent ground game, plus Sirianni's aggression compared to Reid's penchant for occasional clock-management miscues, and we'll give the Birds the slightest of early nods.
Pick: Eagles 28, Chiefs 26