It’s rare when any game on the Eagles’ schedule takes on an air of meaning larger than any against, say, the Cowboys or Giants. Maybe this isn’t it quite on that level either, but there is certainly a greater feeling of importance surrounding tonight’s contest than a regular season meeting against the Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) has any right to have.
That’s what happens when the former head coach of 14 years comes back to town roughly eight months after he was let go, on the same night his franchise quarterback of 11 years will have his number retired in a ceremony at halftime. For the first time in a long time, Chip Kelly is almost an afterthought in Philadelphia.
As soon as the game kicks off though, obviously that will no longer be the case. Chip’s offense still has something to prove versus its stiffest test to date, a Kansas City defense that comes into Week 3 ranked third in total yards and second in points allowed.
How stout the Chiefs’ defense really is, that’s up for debate. They opened their season with the Jaguars – a team that’s found the end zone all of once so far – while several of their nine sacks (tied for the league lead) would chart as “unblocked” against mediocre offensive lines in Jacksonville and Dallas. That’s not to say KC doesn’t have some quality pass rushers in their front seven, but the Birds’ line anchored by Jason Peters stands a better chance of avoiding similar breakdowns.
Then again, it may not matter one way or the other if the Eagles can’t get some stops. Alex Smith is no Philip Rivers, but he’s perfectly capable is dissecting a defense on short and intermediate routes, while Jamaal Charles is a home-run threat in the running game, which was an issue the Birds had during the preseason.
In other news, the No. 5 is painted on the sidelines at the Linc, and the end zones are painted black. Coool.
— Martin Frank (@Mfranknfl) September 19, 2013
Standout Star & Prediction
I’m going with inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks for my game MVP this week. Thursday games are typically lower scoring, probably because guys are still beat up from Sunday, and Kendricks really needs to bounce back from a rough performance against San Diego. Antonio Gates really made the second-year backer look bad in coverage, but the Chiefs don’t have anybody near as good at tight end.
Kendricks will get his number called on the blitz as well, and I suspect he’ll be better in that area as well. Last week he couldn’t find a lane to the quarterback if he had a GPS, but he was making plays in the backfield all night in Washington back in Week 1.
As for the game, I’m going Birds again. If defensive coordinator brings the safeties closer, that should make things harder on Smith, who looked deep (beyond 15 yards) less frequently than any starting quarterback in the league last season (per Football Outsiders Almanac 2013). Force the QB to beat the defense over the top, and hope they can keep Charles from ripping off too many huge gains.
Score: Eagles 27-23