Andy Reid’s return to the City of Brotherly Love also includes another dual-threat quarterback in Alex Smith.
Although Smith’s mobility pales in comparison to that of Michael Vick, he’s arguably a better passer in terms of accuracy and decision-making. It’s also a matchup of two stellar ball-carriers in LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles.
One difference, though, resides in the offensive approach. Eagles coach Chip Kelly brings a ridiculous pace to the game that complements McCoy’s athleticism, as well as Vick’s. As for Charles, he’s more of traditional ground-and-pound back to get K.C. setting up the pass.
Factor in some playmaking receivers and let’s just say these unproven defenses in 2013 have their hands full.
Note: Betting line is courtesy of FootballLocks.com.
Line: Eagles (-3)
Chiefs Offense vs. Eagles Defense
Don’t be surprised if Andy Reid has the Chiefs take flight on Thursday. Philadelphia has a questionable secondary, as evidenced by its No. 31 ranking in pass defense. Having already allowed a 68.8 completion percentage, along with five touchdowns and it’s reasonable to anticipate Kansas City attacking Philly downfield.
With a supporting cast of targets to choose from, Alex Smith should spread the field with ease. He has yet to throw an interception this season and Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery and Dexter McCluster will present issues for the Eagles.
Charles brings the talent to move the chains via the ground, and the dual-threat ability to occupy linebackers out of the backfield. As a result, that helps set up play action and keeps Philly honest. The Eagles also have yet to prove they can lock down the line of scrimmage.
The Chiefs have allowed just four sacks to this point in the season, and the Chiefs’ running game will be the best Philly has seen through three games.
Eagles Offense vs. Chiefs Defense
Similar to when Kansas City has the rock, Philadelphia’s offense presents issues for the Chiefs defense.
For one, Chip Kelly’s fast-paced attack will get K.C. on its heels at times. Philadelphia’s collective speed is enough to rev up the tempo, but the read-option between Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy takes the Eagles to another level. Philly’s receiving corps is also capable of stretching the field to prevent the Chiefs from constantly stacking the box and blitzing.
Vick also sports a 62.3 completion percentage, has not been sacked and Philly ranks in the top 10 offensively. Fielding the No. 2 ranked ground game, McCoy and Vick each average above five yards per rush. Although the Chiefs are statistically dominant across the spectrum, they have yet to face an offense quite like Philadelphia.
Despite a 2-0 record, K.C.’s wins came at home over Jacksonville and Dallas (neither have a ground game). Here, we’ll see the Chiefs get tested in the trenches, which will put more pressure on Brandon Flowers and co. to lock down in coverage.
This is an even matchup.
DeSean Jackson and Dexter McCluster are each capable of taking a punt return back for a score, or at least drastically altering the field position. Interestingly enough, the punters are quite even as well. Dustin Colquitt for K.C. averages nearly 42 yards a punt and has dropped 10 inside the 20-yard line. On the other hand, Philly’s Donnie Jones hits 43.1 per attempt and has put five inside the 20.
As for the kickers, Alex Henery (PHI) is 4-of-5 on the year and Ryan Succop (K.C.) is just 1-of-2. All that said, the punting game will be the most crucial, because limiting Jackson’and McCluster’s big play opportunities are key.
Despite the opposing offensive philosophies, Kansas City and Philadelphia can both put points on the board.
The Chiefs are well balanced and bring the ball control to win the possession battle and keep Vick and co. off the field. Flip sides and the Eagles could pick up the pace and force K.C. on its heels and into a one-dimensional attack.
Defensively, though, expect Philadelphia to load the box to slow down Jamaal Charles. Obviously that makes the Eagles more vulnerable in coverage, so we’ll get to see Alex Smith step up to the plate once again. We know the Eagles will move the rock and K.C.’s defense will get its stops.
However, it’s the Chiefs running game that factors in here the most, as a strong balance will keep Chip Kelly’s offense off the field and allow Charles to remain efficient. On Sunday the San Diego Chargers won the possession battle over Philly 40:17 to 19:43. If a similar result doesn’t occur for Kansas City the Eagles will gradually pull away.
Pick: Chiefs 31, Eagles 28
Chiefs straight up & the points
Follow John on Twitter @Rozum27