6 Eagles players who need dominant Super Bowl performances to beat the Chiefs

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
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Jalen Hurts, Haason Reddick, and other Eagles players to watch vs. Chiefs in the Super Bowl.

The Philadelphia Eagles will be looking to hoist just their second Lombardi Trophy in franchise history this Sunday when they face the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII.

These are the two teams who led their respective conferences for the majority of the 2022 regular season, combining to go 28-6 as the league’s only two teams to win 14 games each.

As you can imagine, there’s quite a bit of star power on both rosters, so here’s a look at the impact players to watch for on the Eagles’ side.

Jalen Hurts

Of course, you’ve gotta mention the starting quarterback, though it’s not just because of the position’s importance. When healthy, Hurts is one of the league’s best overall quarterbacks and arguably the best dual-threat passer.

However, Hurts is battling a right shoulder sprain he initially suffered in the Eagles’ Week 15 win over the Chicago Bears. That led to him missing the next two games, both of which were losses for the Eagles.

Before the injury, Hurts was a strong contender for NFL MVP, but he’s clearly taken a step backward since then. In those three games – Week 18 vs. the New York Giants, the Divisional Round rematch with the G-Men, and the NFC Championship vs. the San Francisco 49ers — Hurts has completed 51 of 84 passes (60.1%) for 504 yards and two touchdowns vs. one interception. He’s also run 29 times for 86 yards (2.97 yards per carry) and two scores with one fumbled (he recovered it) during that span.

A study from Curtis Hirsch of Sharp Football went into great detail about Hurts pre- and post-injury, which I’d recommend reading. After the injury, Hurts has completed just 20% of passes thrown to the right side of the field after halftime compared to his 76.6% mark pre-injury. He’s completing 50.0% of his right-side passes over the course of entire games compared to 72.3% pre-injury.

The hope is having an extra week to recover between the NFC Championship and Super Bowl will lead to a better performance, which the Eagles will need to overcome the Chiefs and hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

Miles Sanders

With Hurts potentially limited due to his injury, that puts more pressure on running back Miles Sanders to carry this offense.

Good thing Sanders is in the midst of easily his best season as a pro.

In the regular season, Sanders ran for 1,269 yards on 259 carries (4.9 yards per rush) with 11 touchdowns. More importantly, Sanders has played in every game this season after being a tad injury-prone in the previous two years with nine regular-season games missed. His 74.0 PFF grade is also the highest of his four-year career.

Because the Chiefs typically jump on their opponents early, said teams end up abandoning the run too often. In the regular season, the Chiefs had the sixth-fewest rushing attempts (419) against their defense but are tied for 15th in yards allowed per rush attempt (4.4), so there will be opportunities for Sanders to make plays vs. this defense.

Another factor for Sanders being one of the more intriguing players to watch in Super Bowl LVII is that he’s scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency his offseason. A big outing to cap off a career year would likely ensure Sanders gets a major payday from someone in March.

Depending on how effective Hurts is, the Eagles’ best hope of winning this game may end up being to ride Sanders early and often.

Haason Reddick

The Chiefs and Eagles have both had standout offensive lines this season. However, the Chiefs have a bit of a weakness at right tackle in Andrew Wylie, their only starting lineman under a 70.0 PFF grade (61.4). He’s also allowed nine sacks this season, tied for the third-most of any player.

Wylie is now set for one of his biggest challenges this season in Haason Reddick, who almost exclusively rushes from Wylie’s side (PFF has Reddick at 402 pass rushes from left defensive end compared to 60 at right defensive end).

Reddick is coming off a regular season in which he racked up a career-high 16 sacks to go with 49 combined tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 26 QB hits, five forced fumbles, three fumbles recovered, and an 81.1 Pro Football Focus grade.

In two playoff games, Reddick has notched 3.5 sacks, four QB hits, two tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.

If the Eagles defense is to have any hope of slowing down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense, Reddick must dominate this matchup.

Eagles’ interior offensive linemen

When it comes to defenders in this year’s title game, All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones rightfully gets most of the attention. The former Mississippi State Bulldog has become the heart and soul of the Chiefs defense. Since Jones joined the team in 2016. Kansas City has won the AFC West every year.

How well the Eagles contain Jones is easily one of the biggest storylines to watch for in Super Bowl LVII. Just ask the Bengals, who were held to 20 points largely due to Jones wreaking havoc in the backfield with two sacks, three tackles for loss, and five QB hits in the AFC Championship.

According to ESPN’s Adam Teicher, no interior defender has been double teamed more often than Jones (69%) has in the 2022 season. A whopping 342 of his pass rushes were against two blockers, the most in the league.

Despite the frequent double teams, Jones still finished fourth in the NFL in sacks (15.5 in 17 games) to go with his 2.5 sacks in two playoff games thus far.

Containing Jones won’t be a one-man deal, but the Eagles may have the horses to do it thanks to a great interior offensive line led by Jason Kelce, one of the best centers in football. The duo of Landon Dickerson and Isaac Seumalo is also one of the NFL’s best guard tandems.

Kelce’s 88.9 Pro Football Focus grade ranks him sixth among all NFL offensive linemen, while Jones’ 92.6 grade ranks first among all NFL defensive players. Seumalo (73.0) and Dickerson (70.9) also had respectable grades, though neither is the kind of guy you want blocking Jones one-on-one.

If anyone can keep a hat on Jones for 60 minutes, it’s the Eagles’ interior linemen. This will be an absolute war that goes a long way in deciding who wins Super Bowl LVII.

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