Discover more from Real Man Sports
Super Bowl LVII
Chiefs +1.5 vs Eagles
I’ve written about and documented at length how elite defenses tend to overperform the spread in Super Bowls, and usually the question comes down to whether the defense in question qualifies. In this case, it would be the Eagles, as the Chiefs defense (5.1 YPP, 7th, 369 PA, 16th) is decent, but nothing special.
The Eagles had the top unit in the league in yards per play (4.8) and allowed 344 points (8th.) They led the league in sacks by a mile (70) (the Chiefs were second with 55), and those yards lost due to sacks show up favorably in their 4.9 net yards per passing attempt allowed, also by far the best in the league. During the playoffs, they smothered the Giants and 49ers, though neither team was much of a test under the circumstances.
The Chiefs led the NFL in yards per play on offense (6.4) while the Eagles were fourth at 5.9. It’s worth noting that disparity (half a yard) is larger than the disparity on defense (0.3 YPP). The Chiefs also led the NFL is points scored (496) while the Eagles were second (477), and keep in mind the Eagles lost quarterback Jalen Hurts for two games, though they put up 34 against the Cowboys with Gardner Minshew.
Other major variables are Patrick Mahomes’ mobility — he’s still only a few weeks removed from a high-ankle sprain — and RT Lane Johnson’s groin injury that saw him false-starting on virtually every play against the 49ers. I’m assuming Jalen Hurts is nearly 100 percent back from the shoulder injury, though he hasn’t had to do much since his return.
All told, I’m leaning Eagles. A healthy Mahomes is a menace against anyone, but if the Eagles can get heat without blitzing the way the Bucs did two years ago, a less-than-100 percent Mahomes should be in trouble. Moreover, there’s no Tyreek Hill around to make plays out of nothing. Once the ball leaves Mahomes’ hands, it’s finding either Travis Kelce or a league-average (at best) target. The Eagles corners are also healthy and capable of shutting them down.
On offense, Eagles shouldn’t have much trouble moving the ball. I don’t know who on Kansas City will slow down A.J. Brown, and Devonta Smith and Dallas Goedert are better than any of the non-Kelce Chiefs should Kansas City commit to throwing extra resources at Brown. The Eagles offensive line is arguably the best in the league, and Jalen Hurts is more mobile than even a healthy Mahomes, something for which defenses also have to account.
The Chiefs have one of the best players of all time in Mahomes, a team with big-game experience and a coach that’s a wizard at game-planning with two weeks to prepare. But the Eagles have the better-rounded team, a better offensive line, better skill players, a better secondary, a better pass rush and a better overall defense. Is the Eagles defense elite for purposes of my rule? They’re borderline in part because they weren’t able to prove themselves in the playoffs due to circumstances beyond their control. That said, it’s close enough, and I’m laying the wood.
Eagles 31 - 23