There’s plenty of compelling storylines about Super Bowl 57 between the Eagles and Chiefs. First and foremost, it’s nice to see the two top seeds and the two best teams from the regular season as the last teams standing at end of the NFL players. That should make for a fun, well-played and well-coached game.
Zooming out, there are other cool things about the matchup. Jalen Hurts vs. Patrick Mahomes is first battle between black QBs in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs’ Andy Reid is trying to win his second ring against the first team he coached, the Eagles. After the Mannings missed a chance to play each other, it’s pretty cool how brothers Jason and Travis Kelce are on opposite sides.
Heck, even the city-inspired Super Bowl tailgate food is great, whether you’re talking Philly cheesesteaks or KC barbecue. But on the less delicious side, there also are some narratives that will be worn out and grow tiresome over the next couple of weeks.
Here’s helping you cut through the noise with the latest annual edition of Super Bowl myth-busting:
SUPER BOWL 57 PICKS: Against the spread | Straight up
Super Bowl 57 myths: Fiction vs. facts
Myth 1: It’s the Chiefs’ offense vs. the Eagles’ defense!
The Chiefs are used to being the more explosive offense on the field with Mahomes, that’s for sure. They averaged a league-leading 29.2 points per game during the regular season. But the Eagles were right behind them, No. 3 at 28.1 points per game.
The Chiefs also were No. 1 in total offense, averaging 413.6 yards per game. The Eagles, again, were No. 3, averaging 389.1 yards per game. The Chiefs were the No. 1 passing team but No. 20 rushing team. The Eagles were the No. 5 rushing but also the No. 9 passing team.
Mahomes and this version of the Chiefs’ have the longer track record as a daunting attack. But the Eagles offer a different brand of diversity and explosiveness with more balance.
As much as it’s fun to say “let’s see if Philadelphia can contain Mahonmes and Kansas City,” the much bigger concern is whether Kansas City can stop Hurts and Philadelphia at all.
Myth 2: It’s Jalen Hurts, running QB vs. Patrick Mahomes, passing QB
Hurts finished No. 35 in the NFL with his 760 rushing yards (along with his 13 TDs). He was well behind top running QB Justin Fields (1,143) and also behind Lamar Jackson (764 yards) and Josh Allen (762 yards). Mahomes was 62nd overall, with his 358 yards (along with 4 TDs).
Mahomes led the NFL in passing with 5,250 yards. Hurts came in 10th, at 3,701 yards. Hurts averaged 4.6 yards per rushing attempt and 8.0 yards per passing attempt. Mahomes averaged 5.9 yards per rushing attempt and 8.1 yards per passing attempt.
The bottom line is, these quarterbacks can dominate throwing with their big arms when needed and also can deliver clutch plays running. Mahomes is just as likely to win the game with a spectacular TD run as Hurts is with a dazzling TD pass. These guys are just leaders and all-out playmakers. They don’t fit into any compartments. They can both do everything and are a blast to watch.
Myth 3: Andy Reid and his experience give the Chiefs a huge coaching edge
Reid is 64. He’s now coaching in his fourth Super Bowl, taking the Eagles there after the 2004 season before getting there with the Chiefs in three of the past four years. He’s got his first ring and looking for his second that will put him in special company.
Counterpart Nick Sirianni is only 41. He’s coaching in only his fourth playoff game and his top offensive, defensive and special teams assistants — Shane Steichen (37), Jonathan Gannon (40) and Michael Clay (31) — are all younger. Reid is working with long-time collaborators Eric Bieniemy (53), Steve Spagnuolo (63) and Dave Toub (60).
The Chiefs have had their key staff intact since 2019. The Eagles assembled theirs when Sirianni replaced Doug Pederson in 2021.
All that doesn’t matter. Neither does the sentiment that Reid would like nothing more than to beat his former team. Reid would want to beat any team in the Super Bowl just as badly. Both coaches have done wonders with their quarterbacks, offensive lines, skill players, defenses, kickers, punters and return men. There’s a lot of execution, energy and discipline from both sides.
Since the short-lived Chip Kelly experiment, the Eagles have hired two young Reid-like offensive-minded coaches, Pederson and Sirianni. They still tap into some of the same concepts and principles that made them so successful during Reid’s tenure.
The Chiefs and Eagles are in the Super Bowl because of coaching superior to the rest of the league, getting the most out of the talent put together by ace GMs Brett Veach and Howie Roseman. Just like Reid was with the Eagles much earlier, Sirianni is a rising star headed for a long, fruitful tenure, one that is capable of being stamped early by out-coaching Reid.
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Myth 4: The Eagles need to run the ball to win but the Chiefs don’t
By the numbers, between Hurts and running backs Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott operating behind the blocks of the NFL’s best offensive line, the Eagles are in a total winning comfort zone when they can run the ball. Even though there was some tough sledding against the 49ers in the NFC championship game, they could stick with the run until they got some key red zone and short-yardage breakthroughs.
The Chiefs have a top-10 run defense in terms of average yards per game allowed in the regular season (107.2). But they also gave up 4.4 yards per carry. The Eagles will feel confident they can win up front to maintain their typical 4.6 yards per carry.
The Eagles, meanwhile, had the No. 16 run defense in giving up on average 121.6 yards per game. They also gave up what they got, 4.6 yards per carry.
The Chiefs were only No. 20 in rushing offense at 115.9 yards per game. But that’s because they also were 24th in rushing attempts at 24.5 per game. Putting that together, the Chiefs averaged 4.7 yards per carry, better than the Eagles and tied for No. 8 in the NFL.
Reid tends to forget about the running game and get too pass-happy at Mahomes at times. While it’s clear Sirianni, Steichen and the Eagles will be committed to the run, also involving Hurts, it would behoove the Chiefs to think more about feeding Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon to take pressure off Mahomes.
Myth 5: The Chiefs’ pass rush is almost as good as the Eagles’ pass rush
The Chiefs had 55 sacks during the regular season, a gaudy number that put them No. 2 in the league. The Eagles were the team ahead of them with a whopping 70 sacks.
No surprise, interior menace Chris Jones led Kansas City with 15.5 sacks. The rest came by committee, led by rookie first-round end George Karlaftis with six. In all, they had 17 defenders having a hand in dropping a QB at least once.
The Eagles, meanwhile, led by outside linebacker Haason Reddick’s 16 sacks, had four players in double digits, including starting ends Brandon Graham (11) and Josh Sweat (11) and tackle Javon Hargrave (10). The final front-four first-teamer, Fletcher Cox (7), was next.
The Eagles are more dominant from end to end with the better pop in just rushing four. The Chiefs can be contained should the Eagles work to slow Jones inside.
Surprisingly, the Eagles gave up 46 sacks despite their elite line. The Chiefs, despite some tackle inconsistency, gave up only 26, third-fewest in the NFL.
Part of that comes from the fact the Eagles have more running designs with Hurts where him being tackled behind the line counts as a sack. Mahomes can face a lot of pressure, but he gets the ball out quickly or scrambles to avoid getting taken down.
Philadelphia has been a phenomenal pressure team all season, while Kansas City is less dominant against better offenses with top protection, despite its high total.
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Myth 6: The Chiefs can lean on having more Super Bowl experience
The Chiefs, unbelievably, have only 13 players left on the roster from their Super Bowl 54-winning team over the 49ers, led by Mahomes and Kelce, The Eagles, led by Graham and Kelce, have only eight players remaining from the team that beat the Patriots in Super Bowl 52.
With a lot of great drafting, trading and free-agent work from Veach and Roseman, both teams have reloaded quickly. While Kansas City worked around the same high floor because of Mahomes, Philadelphia found its ceiling again by getting a great return on investment on Hurts, who has counted only $1.6 million toward the cap for the 2022 season while still on his cheap rookie deal.
Both teams are served by many young players, most drafted in the past three years. Beyond the veteran cores, there’s a lot more Super Bowl inexperience on the field than experience for both teams. This just won’t be a deciding factor for either side with key differences from their recent past Super Bowl-winning versions.
Myth 7: Patrick Mahomes needs this win to cement his legacy
Mahomes just got past one narrative in his path, that had he lost a second consecutive AFC championship game at home to Joe Burrow and the Bengals, his status as the league’s best quarterback, young guns and savvy old passers included, would be in jeopardy.
Turns out, Mahomes, after serious threats to that unofficial title from Burrow and Josh Allen in the AFC, is still the main man, on the brink of his winning his second regular-season MVP along with his second Super Bowl. Hurts has been in that MVP conversation with Mahomes, but Hurts, in only his second full season as a starter, has a long way to go to challenge Mahomes for the magical greatest of right now mantle.
Let’s remember Mahomes has already secured one Super Bowl ring and been to two more, no matter what happens next Sunday. He keeps putting up prolific numbers at a rate higher than the best of his predecessors. He keeps getting better and is just hitting his prime at 27. Like Tom Brady, the GOAT himself before him, Mahomes is bound to make several trips and rack up rings over the next decade.
Mahomes doesn’t need to do anything more to be a Hall of Famer or be mentioned with the elite QBs of the grand generation before him and the younger guns rising behind him. Should Hurts’ team win and Mahomes fall to 1-2 in Super Bowls, it would do nothing to taint Mahomes’ legacy. He has plenty more wow and ultimate winning moments ahead. Many would have loved to have done what he’s already done through their much longer QB careers.