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Chip Kelly and Andy Reid will face each other for the first time on Thursday night. (USA Today Images)
Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers handed Chip Kelly his first loss as an NFL coach after topping the Eagles, 33-30, on Sunday (see last week's predictions).
The Eagles now welcome Andy Reid, who is making his return to Philly, and the Kansas City Chiefs for a Thursday night matchup at Lincoln Financial Field.
Here are our predictions:
Although it’s a battle between two renowned offensive minds, this should be the lowest-scoring game of the Eagles’ first three. Look for Big Red’s dink-and-dunk offense to control the clock and keep Chip Kelly’s troops on the sidelines. Michael Vick will face tremendous pressure and have his first subpar game.
Chiefs 23, Eagles 20
We'll see something very familiar Thursday night. Andy Reid losing a football game at the Linc. The Eagles will end their NFL-long seven-game home losing streak -- six of the losses are on Reid's ledger -- with a win over their former coach.
The yards and the points and the big plays might not come quite as easily as they did the last two weeks, but I see a big bounce-back week for the defense against an efficient but hardly explosive Chiefs offense.
The Chiefs want to play defense, run the ball and throw short, and I think that plays into the Eagles' hands. Alex Smith can't make the plays down the field that Robert Griffin III made in the second half in Week 1 and Philip Rivers made in Week 2, and the Eagles might not have a world-class run defense, but they're not awful, and I think they can slow down Jamaal Charles enough to make Smith make throws he doesn't want to make.
Eagles 27, Chiefs 21
I'm not a fan of the Thursday Night Football concept. Pro football isn't a game that is meant to be played on such a short week. It is hard on the coaches who have to prepare and harder on the players who don't have sufficient time to recover from the previous game. This goes double for the team that has to travel, and in this case it is the Kansas City Chiefs. After touching the ball just 16 times in Sunday's loss, LeSean McCoy should have enough in the tank to spoil Andy Reid's homecoming.
Eagles 27, Chiefs 21
Ever since the NFL schedule came out this game has been circled on the calendar. So far, Andy Reid's Chiefs are off to a 2-0 start. Granted, one of their wins did come over Jacksonville, but it cannot be overlooked that Kansas City's defense is more physical and more talented than the Chargers' defensive unit.
Chip Kelly's offense will have to work for it, but it should score points. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith doesn’t make many mistakes, and his offense has not turned the ball over, a good challenge for an Eagles defense that has forced five turnovers. The Chiefs will try to control the clock offensively and keep the ball out of Michael Vick's hands.
Hate to say it, but I think Big Red's homecoming will be a success.
Chiefs 28, Eagles 26
There are quality skill position players on both sides. LeSean McCoy leads the NFL in rushing and DeSean Jackson leads the NFL in receiving. Jamaal Charles is a dangerous multi-purpose threat out of the K.C. backfield (4.1 yards per carry and 6.5 yards per reception) in the same way Brian Westbrook once was for the Eagles. And both quarterbacks rank among the league leaders in quarterback rating (Michael Vick is third, Alex Smith is 11th).
The issue here, as it almost always does with the Eagles, comes down to defense. The Birds have been bad on that side of the ball. You probably noticed. They're ranked 30th overall (19th rushing, 31st passing). The Chiefs have been considerably better. K.C. is third in overall defense (second rushing, seventh passing), though a lot of that was helped by playing the awful Jaguars in Week 1.
This will be the Chiefs' first real road test, and it comes against the best offense they've seen so far. The oddsmakers installed the Eagles at minus-3, meaning it's an even matchup -- except for home-field advantage. That seems right to me. Slight edge to the Birds. Slight.
Eagles 28, Chiefs 27
After watching the Eagles dismantle the Redskins, it was only natural to pick the Birds to beat up on a Chargers team that flew cross-country after a short week.
Then we saw what happened.
Philip Rivers looked like the guy who has made four Pro Bowls, Eddie Royal looked like the guy who once looked like a future Pro Bowler, and the Eagles' secondary looked like a group that would have been better off with retired Pro Bowlers Troy Vincent, Bobby Taylor, Brian Dawkins and Michael Lewis (yep, he made one) -- let's go back to Wes Hopkins.
Anyway, in come Andy Reid and his 2-0 Chiefs, who were 2-14 a year ago despite having six Pro Bowlers, four on defense.
The logical thing to do would be to pick K.C. But logic hasn't gotten us anywhere yet. Here's logic: The Chiefs are better with Reid and Alex Smith, but 3-0 after 2-14? Nah.
Eagles 45, Chiefs 44