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Will Eagles' defense rebound vs. Chiefs?
Andy Reid is back at the Linc, Donovan McNabb is having his number retired and the Eagles are charged with the task of beating an undefeated Chiefs team just four days after falling to Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers.
With kickoff set for 8:25 p.m. on the NFL Network/ABC, here are five things you need to know about the most anticipated regular-season Eagles game in recent memory:
1) Connections all over
Aside from Reid, the Chiefs have 20 coaches that either played for the Eagles or spent time on Reid’s staffs.
That list includes assistant head coach David Culley, offensive coordinator Doug Pederson, special teams coordinator Dave Toub, running backs coach Eric Bieniemy, defensive line coach Tommy Brasher, spread game analyst Brad Childress, secondary coach Al Harris, tight ends coach Tom Melvin, quarterbacks coach Matt Nagy and defensive backs coach Emmitt Thomas.
Three active Chiefs -- safety Quintin Demps, wide receiver Chad Hall and linebacker Akeem Jordan -- are former Eagles.
In his 14 seasons in Philadelphia, Reid went 140-102-1 (including playoffs) to become the winningest coach in Eagles history. His teams won six division titles and won one of their five NFC championship game appearances.
2) LeSean and DeSean
LeSean McCoy leads the NFL with 237 rushing yards and DeSean Jackson leads the league with 297 receiving yards. With 653 of the Eagles’ 954 total yards, that dynamic duo has accounted for 68.4 percent of their total offense.
But Reid’s Chiefs could put an end to their eye-popping success. Kansas City has allowed 18 points total in two wins, and held its opponents -- Jacksonville and Dallas -- to an average of 248 yards.
Nobody knows Jackson and McCoy better than Reid, who drafted both players and watched them grow into superstars. The Chargers tried to cover Jackson one-on-one for most of Sunday and it didn’t come close to working. Eliminating him from the offense is the likely task of the Chiefs’ D, which according to Pro Football Focus has been the top coverage team in the NFL through two weeks.
McCoy’s first NFL touchdown came against Kansas City in 2009 in his second career start.
3) Thursday night slopfests
Short weeks affect teams, point blank. Execution is off, penalties are up and points are down on Thursday night.
Last week, the Patriots outlasted the Jets, 13-10, in one of the uglier games of the 2013 season.
Last year, nine of 13 Thursday night contests were decided by eight or more points.
The average score of Thursday night games in 2012 was 20-18. Teams combined for an average of 38 points on Thursday nights, compared to 46 points in all other games.
4) A quarterback away
The Chiefs were 2-14 last season but had six Pro Bowlers: running back Jamaal Charles, linebackers Derrick Johnson and Justin Houston, safety Eric Berry, outside linebacker Tamba Hali and punter Dustin Colquitt.
What made the Kansas City job so appealing to Reid was the amount of talent already in place. The Chiefs have playmakers at every level of the defense, offensive weapons at wide receiver and running back, but were missing a capable QB.
Kansas City’s quarterbacks in 2012 were Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn. They combined to complete 57.5 percent of their passes for an average of 184 yards per game. They had eight touchdown passes, 20 interceptions, seven fumbles and were sacked 40 times.
Enter Alex Smith. The steady eight-year veteran cost the Chiefs a second-round pick in this past draft, but he’s already paid dividends, leading K.C. to a 2-0 record. Smith has completed 60 percent of his passes, averaged 239 yards passing and rushing, and thrown four touchdowns without turning the ball over.
The last time the Eagles faced Smith was Week 4 of the 2011 season, when he led the 49ers back from the dead in the third quarter. The Eagles blew a 23-3 lead and lost 24-23.
5) All eyes on D
The Eagles’ much-maligned defense couldn’t stop Rivers, Antonio Gates or Eddie Royal in last Sunday’s 33-30 loss. The Chargers converted 10 of 15 third downs and averaged nearly seven yards per play.
Smith isn’t as prolific a passer as Rivers, but the Chiefs have a much better running game, a better No. 1 wide receiver in Dwayne Bowe, and a Royal clone in Donnie Avery.
The Chiefs love to dump the ball off to Charles, who is electric in space. Bowe (6-2, 221) is a mismatch for most corners.
Smith’s best work so far has come over the middle, on passes from 10-19 yards. He’s 6 for 7 in that range for 104 yards and a TD. He’s attempted only three passes of 20-plus yards.