Tyreek Hill

Eagles-Chiefs thoughts: Despite reputation, Andy Reid's teams beatable on extra rest

Eagles-Chiefs thoughts: Despite reputation, Andy Reid's teams beatable on extra rest

Eagles (1-0) at Chiefs (1-0)
1 p.m. on FOX
Chiefs -6

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.

Fantasy implications in Eagles' Week 2 matchup with Chiefs

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USA Today Images

Fantasy implications in Eagles' Week 2 matchup with Chiefs

Each week this season, we'll take a look at the Eagles and their opponent from a fantasy perspective to help with any lineup-related decisions.

Before looking ahead, let's take a quick look back.

What we got right
• Zach Ertz indeed had a great game and Alshon Jeffery didn't against the 'Skins.

• LeGarrette Blount reached the end zone.

• Rob Kelley and Terrelle Pryor struggled.

• Chris Thompson had the best day of any Redskins running back.

What we got wrong
• Jordan Reed, who we pegged at seven catches, 90 yards and a TD, had a modest afternoon. News came out Sunday morning that Reed is dealing with a broken toe, which may have affected his game.

• Jamison Crowder did next to nothing, falling well short of our six-catch projection.

Now on to the Eagles and Chiefs.

• • •

RB Kareem Hunt
Hunt was one of the top stories of Week 1 after his 246 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. It was the best debut a running back has ever had.

Hunt will continue to get ample opportunities in Kansas City's ground attack. Charcandrick West, the No. 2 RB, is more of a pass-catcher than a between-the-tackles runner.

If you have Hunt, you're starting him this week, you don't really need any fantasy advice or input. 

It's hard to know just yet how good the Eagles' 2017 run defense is. Last season, the Eagles allowed RBs an average of 125 total yards and 5.6 catches per game.

Projected stat line: 70 rushing yards, 5 catches, 40 receiving yards, TD

• • •

WR Tyreek Hill, TE Travis Kelce
Hill is a nightmarish matchup for any team because he's probably the fastest man in the NFL and the Chiefs are so creative with his usage. The Eagles can try different things, jamming him at the line of scrimmage or doubling him on occasion, but Andy Reid is going to figure out ways to get him the ball.

Last season, Hill had seven plays of 34 yards or more, including touchdown runs of 68 and 70 yards. In Week 1 against the Patriots, he had a 75-yard catch-and-run for another TD. If Alex Smith hits him in stride ... good luck.

The Chiefs put Hill in motion a lot and those are the most dangerous situations. He'll take a hand-off on an end-around or serve as a decoy to open running lanes for Hunt or space in the seam for Travis Kelce. 

It will be difficult for the Eagles to contain both Hill and Kelce in this game. Given Hill's explosiveness, they could make him the top priority to stop. He has to be defended the way teams defend DeSean Jackson with an over-the-top safety, which means more 1-on-1 coverage for Kelce.

With Hill, all it takes is one play. The Patriots actually played him pretty well aside from the 75-yarder.

Jordan Hicks and/or Malcolm Jenkins could draw the Kelce assignment. The Eagles allowed the fewest receptions and yards to tight ends of any NFL team last season but they didn't face one quite like Kelce.

Hill's projection: 90 yards from scrimmage

Kelce's projection: 6 catches, 72 yards, TD

• • •

WR Alshon Jeffery
After a tough Week 1 matchup with Josh Norman, Jeffery could be in line for a big game if he draws No. 2 Chiefs cornerback Terrance Mitchell.

The way the Chiefs play defense and the way Eagles lined Jeffery up last week, it looks like he'll avoid top corner Marcus Peters for the most part. Mitchell last week allowed 96 receiving yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

Jeffery (6-3/218) has a distinct size advantage on Mitchell (5-11/190). Plus, the Chiefs' pass defense figures to be worse moving forward with Eric Berry (torn Achilles) done for the season.

Projected Jeffery stat line: 7 catches, 120 yards, TD

• • •

RB LeGarrette Blount
The Chiefs allowed three one-yard TDs to Mike Gillislee in the opener against the Patriots but that doesn't necessarily make Blount a good start this week. 

First off, Gillislee's TDs were more about opportunity than anything else. Will the Eagles be able to drive inside the five-yard line multiple times against this KC defense? 

Blount's best chance at a decent game in this one would involve pass interference calls in the end zone. In that regard, Jeffery could be his best friend this weekend.

The Chiefs have a pretty stout front seven with Bennie Logan at the nose, Justin Houston and Dee Ford generating pressure and Derrick Johnson being the all-purpose linebacker he's always been.

Don't be surprised if the Eagles use Darren Sproles a bit more in this game to avoid the tough middle of KC's defense.

Projected stat line: 35 rushing yards, 0 TD

• • •

TE Zach Ertz
The Chiefs were the only team to allow fewer fantasy points per game to tight ends last season than the Eagles, and just last week they shut down Rob Gronkowski. 

But with Berry out, the Chiefs' ability to nullify the tight end drops and they'll likely bracket Ertz with two lesser players. If Jeffery wins his matchup a few times, KC could pull help away from Ertz to aid with Jeffery and that would enhance Ertz's matchup.

Ertz has been on a roll for about a calendar year and I think that continues Sunday even if he doesn't reach the end zone.

Projected stat line: 6 catches, 80 yards

Eagles' defense up for challenge of slowing Chiefs' high-octane offense

Eagles' defense up for challenge of slowing Chiefs' high-octane offense

Not all that long ago, Andy Reid presided over an explosive offense featuring running back LeSean McCoy, receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin and a guy who back then was a big-play tight end in Brent Celek.

Today, Reid's offense comes at teams with tight end Travis Kelce, wide receiver Tyreek Hill and running back Kareem Hunt.

Fast, young, explosive. All that's different is the uniform.

The Eagles' defense, coming off an impressive debut in Washington last weekend, will have its hands full this weekend with a star-studded Chiefs offense (see 5 matchups to watch).

"You want games like this," Eagles safety Rodney McLeod said. "That's why we play this game.

"We're both coming off somewhat big wins. For us, a division opponent. For them, the Super Bowl champs. It's going to be a good matchup. They have great skill players, but we have skill players on our side of the ball that they have to worry about, too."

Reid has always had an eye for skill players, and in Kelce, Hill and Hunt — along with QB Alex Smith — the Chiefs have a nucleus that could bring Kansas City its first top-10 offense since Dick Vermeil was head coach.

"Obviously they have a lot of speed on the field, a lot of formation shifts, motions, some things we'll have to prepare for," Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said.

"Guys who are well-established in this league who have made plays and obviously, you've got some rookies that are playing well. Really good quarterback, really good coach. They're very, very impressive."

The Chiefs opened the season with a 42-27 win over the Super Bowl champion Patriots a week ago Thursday, so not only are they explosive, they'll be well-rested going into their intriguing matchup with the Eagles at 1 p.m. Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

In Foxboro, Hunt put together the greatest debut by a rookie running back in NFL history, with 246 yards from scrimmage (148 rushing, 98 receiving, three TDs). Hill, who had 860 scrimmage yards last year as a rookie, added seven catches for 133 yards. Kelce had 5 for 40 but was over 1,100 yards last year.

"They do a lot of things to get your eyes going one way to create miscommunication within the defense to get somebody open," McLeod said.

"You see a lot of that. That's a big part of their scheme, so our biggest thing is communication is going to be key, discipline is going to be another, trusting that everybody's going to do their job and has that responsibility and not to do another person's job.

"We [have to] do that early and show that we can stop those plays that they scheme up. Because it seems like every team they play they have a set number of plays that they direct just for that specific team, so I think that's going to be the game plan early. Stop that and they'll get back into their regular offense."

With the 23-year-old Hill and the 22-year-old Hunt, this is only the fourth time in NFL history teammates 23 and under both surpassed 130 scrimmage yards on opening day.

In 1966, Dan Reeves and Bob Hayes of the Cowboys did it. In 1973, it was Jim Bertelsen and Lawrence McCutcheon of the Rams, and just last year it was achieved by Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks of the Saints.

Probably the only way Hunt and Hill won't be making plays for the Chiefs for the next five or six years is if Chip Kelly replaces Reid again and trades them.

"They are both talented guys and I think what stands out about it is if you pay too much attention to any one guy, that another guy can make you pay," Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said.

"That 87 (Kelce) demands a lot of attention, also. They have a lot of talent across the board and the quarterback can get the ball to all of them.

"If you want to spend too much attention on Tyreek than Kelce, then the running backs, all those guys can make plays. You have to play good, sound defense. You have to be good across the board. It's not just about taking one guy out of this offense. If you try to do that, I think there's a lot of other guys that can [hurt you]. We can't overplay one person at the expense of the other guys."

The Eagles' defense opened the season by limiting the Redskins to just 10 points and 264 net yards of offense.

But the Chiefs have a much higher-octane offense than the post-DeSean Redskins.

"There's not really that many teams that have one guy that you can stop and feel good about," Jenkins said.

"This league is too filled with talent. We know for a fact that there's going to be matchups that each guy is going to have to win. Whether it's on their receivers or the speed they've got in the backfield, or it's their tight end or it's their quarterback getting rid of the ball.

"Everybody's going to have to match up to win and we're going to need everyone to win those 1-on-1s. That's the beauty of having a team sport. Everybody's going to have to contribute. So we're looking forward to that. We're not trying to take away just one or two guys. We're going to see if we can match up."