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February 07, 2023

Why the Chiefs are the toughest opponent Eagles will face

The Chiefs' offense could present some unique challenges for the Eagles.

Two weeks ago, we wrote in this space about how the 49ers were going to be the toughest team the Eagles would face at the tail end of their extremely easy schedule.

Due in large part to both of their active quarterbacks getting injured, the Eagles were not really tested at all in their NFC Championship win — nor were they tested at all the week before against the Giants in the divisional round.

As has been noted, the Birds have not faced a real 60-minute challenge since Christmas, but they have one of those waiting for them in Arizona this weekend.

In what ways, specifically, are the Chiefs better than the other opponents the Eagles have breezed through (or struggled against)? Here are a few stats that help tell the story:

Points per game — 29.2 (1st)

(Next best faced — Cowboys, 4th)

No team has scored more than Kansas City's 496 points this season and the Eagles will clearly be facing the best scoring offense they'll have gone against all season in the Super Bowl. The clash will be real, as the Philly defense allowed 20.2 points per game during the regular season, 7th best in the NFL, and allowed exactly seven points in each of their postseason wins.

Yards per game — 407.9 (1st)

(Next best — Lions, 4th)

Not surprisingly, the most points in the NFL were scored by the most proficient offense. The Chiefs' 6.4 yards per play was tops in football this season, mostly sparked by the likely NFL MVP — Patrick Mahomes — throwing for the most yards and touchdowns in football this season. KC had nearly 500 more yards in the air than the Bucs this season and six more touchdown passes than the Bengals.

First downs per game — 23.9 (1st)

(Next best — Vikings, 4th)

The only team with more first downs per game this season than the Eagles was the Chiefs, averaging one more per 60 minutes. Their total of 272 passing firsts is 28 more than the next best in the Vikings. The Chiefs keep the ball when they have it, with the 11th-best time of possession.

Sack percentage — 3.8% (1st)

(Next best — Lions, 3rd)

The Eagles have had more sacks in 2022 than all but one team in NFL history. They have an incredible pass rush and it will likely be one of the biggest factors in Super Bowl LVII. But the challenge of bringing down Mahomes is a big one. The Chiefs have only allowed sacks on 3.8% of offensive plays, the top mark in the NFL. For comparison, Eagles QBs were sacked 7.6% of the time.

Third down percentage — 48.7% (2nd)

(Next best — Cowboys, 5th)

The only team in the NFL that was better on third down this season was Buffalo, who the Birds did not face. Interestingly, due to the rest of their offense being so good, they are 8th in third down conversions per game.

Red zone touchdowns — 50 (1st)

(Next best — Lion, 2nd)

The Chiefs in the red zone could decide the Super Bowl. When they get down there, they score. The team's 69.4% touchdown rate is second in the NFL, but their astonishing 50 TDs scored inside the 20 is what we are highlighting here. In 2022, Kansas City scored 61 touchdowns in total. Two of them were not offensive scores, which means they have scored 50/59 TDs from the red zone. It's nice to have Travis Kelce.

This article highlights the Chiefs' strengths — and there are many — but it seems relevant to mention that they also have the second-worst red zone defense.

4th down attempts against — 35 (1st)

(Next best — Jaguars, 3rd)

Make of this stat what you will, but no team this season saw more fourth-down attempts defensively than Kansas City did. They performed pretty well at high volume, denying 15 of 35 tries for a 57.1% stop percentage.

Sacks — 55 (2nd)

(Next best — Cowboys, 3rd)

The Eagles led the NFL with 70 sacks, 15 more than the next-best team, the Chiefs. Still, 55 sacks in a season are nothing to sneeze at. Kansas City created 178 QB pressures, which is actually 10 more than the Eagles had (and most in the league). The battles in the trenches will boast a ton of talent on both sides and the Eagles' offensive line — touted as the best in the league — will have its toughest test of the year. 

Longest FG made — 62 yards

(Next best — Vikings, 61 yards)

Harrison Butker drilled a 62-yarder back in October, the longest-made field goal of the year. It's worth being mindful that he has very impressive range, and in a close game, this could be a factor.

Yards per punt (net) — 45.6 yards

(Next best, Jaguars, 43.8)

This is another potential influence in the big game, as Tommy Townsend is one of the best punters in football and along with the Chiefs' special teams coverage unit, creates the longest net punts in the NFL. 

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