Eagles (1-0) at Chiefs (1-0)
1 p.m. on FOX
Arrowhead Stadium will be the site of Andy Bowl II on Sunday, when the Eagles take on the Kansas City Chiefs in a battle of the undefeated.
Both teams were victorious on the road in Week 1 — the Eagles escaping Washington with a win, and Kansas City knocking off the defending Super Bowl-champion Patriots in Foxborough. However, win-loss records have taken something of a backseat in the lead-up to this contest, with Chiefs coach Andy Reid going up against his former employer of 14 years.
Reid won the first return matchup with the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in 2013. The second time around won’t be any less significant, with former Reid apprentice Doug Pederson on the opposite sideline now.
Should be interesting, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that a shot at a 2-0 start is what’s really on the line here.
The mythology of Reid
Convincing an Eagles fan to soften their opinion of Reid is like asking somebody to change their political affiliation. Let’s talk about how his presence on the sideline pertains to this game instead — specifically, the fallacy that Reid’s teams are nearly impossible to beat with extra time to prepare.
The Chiefs are coming into this matchup on an extra three days rest, having played the Patriots in the Thursday night season opener. Ever since his time with the Eagles, Reid had this reputation for being unbeatable after a bye week or an additional break of any kind. Yet, Reid’s Chiefs have been uncharacteristically mediocre when there are nine or more days between games.
Reid is only 4-5 in such contests since 2013. So much for that narrative.
Reid is a great coach, whether people want to admit that or not, and the extra time between opening night and Sunday is still advantageous for the Chiefs. But look past the mythology. The reality is Reid is far from unbeatable in these types of situations.
The legend of Kareem Hunt
It’s going to be difficult watching this game, knowing the Eagles sorely need a feature running back, and could’ve had Hunt in the 2017 NFL draft. That outlook also requires a rewriting of history of sorts.
Hunt exploded onto the scene in Week 1, setting a new rookie record with 246 yards from scrimmage in his debut. The third-round draft pick from Toledo rushed for 148 yards and one touchdown and had five receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns against the Patriots. He looked like the total package — elusive, powerful and a dangerous receiver out of the backfield.
It was also only one game, against a New England defense that has some issues. The Eagles are much better up front and have a shot at slowing Hunt down. Don’t anoint this kid just yet.
Hunt would still look good in an Eagles uniform. LeGarrette Blount lacks burst, Wendell Smallwood seems to be an afterthought and Darren Sproles is a role player. However, seeing as the Eagles didn’t have a pick between Nos. 43 and 99, and Hunt went No. 86, this seems more like wishful thinking than anything else.
Key matchup: OLB Justin Houston vs. RT Lane Johnson
Ryan Kerrigan gave Lane Johnson all he could handle in Week 1, but ultimately, the Eagles' right tackle was able to contain the two-time Pro Bowl selection. Kerrigan was credited with half a sack — his lone hit on the quarterback in the contest — and zero tackles for loss in an Eagles win.
While Kerrigan is an outstanding player, Justin Houston has the potential to be the best pass rusher in the league. Houston became the NFL’s all-time single-season sack record holder with 22.0 in 2014, and though he’s been slowed by injuries in recent years, he looked dominant in New England in Week 1.
Houston registered 2.0 sacks, four quarterback hits and two tackles for loss against the Patriots, who have a pretty good right tackle themselves. Based on that performance, it’s safe to say Houston is back, and Johnson will once again have his hands full this Sunday.
Johnson faced Houston in his third game as a professional in 2013, and it was a disaster. Houston racked up 4.5 sacks, five quarterback hits and four tackles for loss in the contest. Johnson is a much better player now, obviously, but his assignment won’t be any easier.
Not so special
The Eagles have a built-in advantage over many opponents because they routinely field one of the best special teams units in the league. This week, that will not the case.
The clear issue for the Eagles is the change at kicker, with Caleb Sturgis going on injured reserve, and being replaced by rookie Jake Elliott. A fifth-round draft pick, Elliott was scooped up off the Bengals practice squad after failing to win the job, and … well, that’s about the extent of our knowledge. That’s not to say Elliott will not perform, but he’s an unknown.
What is well known is the fact that Tyreek Hill is arguably the most dangerous return man in the NFL right now, giving the Chiefs a slight edge in that facet of the game as well.
Special teams were an essential aspect of the Eagles’ Week 1 victory. Sturgis nailed three field goals. Coverage units consistently pinned Washington, including a fourth-quarter Donnie Jones punt at the 1-yard line. But in Kansas City, it’s far less likely the Eagles will dominate in each of these phases.