Mike Preston

Mike Preston: Eagles will muscle their way to Super Bowl title over Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes | COMMENTARY

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the most dynamic offensive player in the NFL, but he might not be enough to lead Kansas City to victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona, on Sunday.

Because of his accuracy and ability to improvise, Mahomes, who was named NFL Most Valuable Player for the second time Thursday night, has become almost unbeatable. But the team that wins the Lombardi Trophy is usually the most balanced, and the Eagles were the most complete team in the league this season.


Their interior lines dominated on both sides of the ball, especially on defense, as Philadelphia led the league with 70 sacks — 15 more than the second-place Chiefs — and allowed opponents to convert only 38.6% of their third downs. The Eagles are one of the few teams that can get pressure with their front four, which is why their blitzes are even more lethal.

“That’s a really good defensive line. They got Ndamukong Suh over there and Brandon Graham,” said Joe Cullen, the former Ravens defensive line coach now in the same capacity with Kansas City. “[Haason] Reddick has had a great year and they get after you. They roll guys through like we do, to keep them fresh in the fourth quarter.”


But can the Eagles make a magical quarterback like Mahomes disappear?

The 27-year-old superstar has led the Chiefs to five straight AFC championship games and appeared in two Super Bowls, winning one in 2019. Even without star wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who was traded to the Miami Dolphins in the offseason, Mahomes completed 67.1% of his passes for a league-leading 5,250 yards and 41 touchdowns.

If this was supposed to be somewhat of a rebuilding season, no one told Mahomes, who still has a major weapon in tight end Travis Kelce (110 receptions for 1,338 yards and 12 touchdowns) and found another in rookie running back Isiah Pacheco (170 carries for 830 yards and five touchdowns).

Chiefs defensive line coach Joe Cullen, pictured before a 2019 game while holding the same role the Ravens, knows the Eagles' offensive line will be a handful for Kansas City. “They are well-coached, really strong, physical and all athletic,” Cullen said.

Mahomes makes a lot his big plays outside the pocket. He has that rare ability to scramble and make that last-second completion.

The Eagles, though, have answers. They have four players with double-digit sack totals in Reddick (16), Graham (11), defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (11) and defensive end Josh Sweat (11).

On the opposite side of the line, both Kansas City tackles — former Ravens starter Orlando Brown Jr. on the left and Andrew Wylie on the right — have struggled in pass protection.

Mahomes is moving reasonably well considering he suffered a high-ankle sprain nearly three weeks ago in the AFC divisional-round win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, but that injury won’t fully heal until the offseason. If Mahomes gets hit early and often, he might start limping again like he did in the victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in the conference championship.

Cullen has his own version, to a lesser degree, of Mahomes to deal with in Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. Cullen said the Chiefs are fortunate because they see Mahomes every day in training camp and understand the value of a mobile quarterback.


But he also knows that the Eagles’ offensive line is perhaps the best in the NFL. Hurts has completed 66.5% of his passes for 3,701 yards and 22 touchdowns while running back Miles Sanders has rushed for 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns on 259 carries.

Eagles center Jason Kelce (62), pictured during a game against the Chiefs on Oct. 3, 2021, in Philadelphia, leads one of the best offensive lines in the league.

There are no weaknesses in the starting group of tackles Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson, guards Landon Dickerson and Isaac Seumalo and center Jason Kelce.

“They are well-coached, really strong, physical and all athletic,” Cullen said. “They do it all — zone, gap scheme, do all the college scheme drive runs, much like Greg Roman did with the Ravens but with Hurts. They are all playing at a high level but I think we’re a good defensive line and this is going to be a real challenge.”

Two major keys will be whether Philadelphia can run the ball early and if the Eagles can take a quick lead. They haven’t trailed much this season, so they’ve stayed in manageable third-down situations.

If Philadelphia is forced to pass, the Chiefs have one of the best pass rushers in the NFL in defensive tackle Chris Jones (15 1/2 sacks), as well as rookie George Karlaftis (six) and veterans Michael Danna (five) and Frank Clark (five).

“Our guys have stayed healthy most of the time and guys like Danna and [rookie linebacker Leo] Chenal all play all over the line,” Cullen said. “We’ve brought in a good mixture of veterans like Carlos Dunlap and [former Raven] Brandon Williams for the run. These guys have worked hard since Day 1 and they don’t care who gets the credit. They just want to win.”


Most teams know they have to run to beat Kansas City, which allowed 107.2 rushing yards per game during the regular season. Opponents don’t like to get into a shootout against Mahomes because he can make plays in and out of the pocket. He’ll make throws only he can make.

But the Eagles are different. They are too complete and have too much muscle up front on both sides of the ball.

That will be enough to push them to victory.

Super Bowl LVII

Eagles vs. Chiefs

State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona


Sunday, 6:30 p.m.

TV: Chs. 45, 5