Eagles versus Chiefs: X-factors that will help decide the Super Bowl

Isiah Pacheco #10, Kansas City Chiefs (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Isiah Pacheco #10, Kansas City Chiefs (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

It’s often the unknowns that make the difference. Five years ago in Super Bowl LII, no one expected Trey Burton to throw a touchdown pass or for Corey Clement to morph into a game-changer. Clement had a beautiful second-half touchdown catch in the back of the end zone AND a run that set the Philadelphia Eagles up with a goal-to-go situation. The latter led to the Philly Special, a play Clement took the snap on.

It happens almost every year. Someone we aren’t discussing makes their mark on the Super Bowl stage. That could happen this year as well.

Who are the unknowns? What are the X-factors? Lesser-mentioned matchups could tell the tale.

Here are the x-factors that will help determine the outcome of the Eagles/Chiefs Super Bowl clash.

T.J. Edwards has been a tackling machine all year. He led the Eagles with 159 total stops during the regular season. He’s added seven more during Philly’s postseason run. Keep an eye on him and Kyzir White as great linebacker play will be key to an Eagles victory, especially seeing as how both have improved as defenders versus the pass.

Tight ends often had their way versus Jonthan Gannon’s unit in 2021. The Birds were having none of that this season.

When opposing quarterbacks targeted their tight ends during the 2022-2023 campaign, they saw little success. The

This team has the defensive talent to bother Travis Kelce in the Chiefs’ passing game.

Jonathan Gannon’s first run as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator brought with it criticism about how unprepared his unit looked when facing elite talent at the quarterback position. They were also susceptible to great tight end play.

Sure, they haven’t faced a quarterback as good as Patrick Mahomes this season, but who’s as good as he is? We can speak to their handling of opposing tight ends though. You’re going to love this!

Philly has been better in 2022 as they only allowed three TD passes to tight ends this season. They also intercepted four passes when opposing tight ends were targeted. It may be impossible to stop Travis Kelce, but Philly has a shot at limiting him.

Might Mahomes rely on his running backs in the passing game?

They can’t be overlooked in the running game by any stretch of the imagination, but it stands to reason that Kansas City’s running backs will be targeted a lot in the Chiefs’ passing game. It’s usually a wise idea when Mahomes looks to his backfield mates.

Philly struggled with backs who have shown ability as receivers, allowing a rating of 95.2. Watch Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon on Super Bowl Sunday. In the AFC Championship Game, they combined for seven receptions and 76 yards from scrimmage through the air.

Isiah Pacheco won’t possibly have a huge game on the ground, right?

It’s typically the workmanlike attitude on the ground that gives the Eagles problems, but the shifty Pacheco can’t be ignored.

He’s listed at five-foot-ten and 216 pounds, but running behind Kansas City’s O-line, he averaged just under five yards per carry. Meanwhile, the Eagles surrendered 4.4 yards per carry during the regular season. Let’s hope K.C. doesn’t shake loose for a big gainer on the ground.

The run-pass option could be key.

We’ve discussed the Eagles’ rushing attack frequently and with good reason. They don’t have to trick the Chiefs. They just need to run right at them most of the time.

Still, if they want to confuse K.C., it can be done with the run-pass option. When teams have utilized that strategy and have elected to run, K.C. gave up 4.7 yards per carry during the 2022 regular season. Philly averaged 4.6 yards per carry.

Andrew Wylie versus Haason Reddick is a mismatch.

The Eagles field a great pass rush. We all know that. The Chiefs have protected Mahomes well. We know that too. K.C. only gave up 26 sacks during the regular season, but keep an eye on the Haason Reddick versus Andrew Wylie battle.

Wylie is the weak link on the Chiefs’ O-line having given up nine sacks on the season. We’re so confident about this one that we believe Reddick could win Super Bowl MVP. We’ll take that seeing as how his absence as one of the finalists for defensive player of the year is inexcusable.