This is it. The last game of the year.
Patrick Mahomes has never been the underdog in a postseason game in his career. It happens now.
Is that an accurate reflection of the edge between the teams? Is it something that will motivate Mahomes and company. Read on to see whether MDS and I believe it will be the Chiefs or Eagles hoisting a Lombardi Trophy on Sunday night.
Chiefs (+1.5) vs. Eagles
MDS’s take: The Chiefs and Eagles have been the two best teams over the course of the 2022-23 season. That doesn’t always happen; a great team can get cold at the wrong time, or suffer key injuries late in the season, or simply get upset in the unpredictable single-elimination format of the NFL playoffs. But the Chiefs and Eagles, despite actually having some injuries late in the season and some things go against them down the stretch, were the best teams all year and now find themselves facing off in the Super Bowl.
So how will the Super Bowl be decided? I think the primary difference between the two teams is at quarterback, where I believe Patrick Mahomes can do more than Jalen Hurts. Hurts has had a great season, and may have won the league MVP over Mahomes if he hadn’t been sidelined by a shoulder injury late in the year, but Mahomes can threaten a defense all over the field in a way that neither Hurts nor any other quarterback can. I think Mahomes is going to make the difference, and is the reason the Chiefs will win.
If I’m wrong, I’ll be wrong because of the Eagles’ relentless pass rush. Philadelphia has a total of 78 sacks in the regular season and postseason, a total that only the 1984 Bears and 1985 Bears have topped. With Mahomes possibly still hobbled by his high ankle sprain, if the Eagles’ rush can get to him, that changes the game significantly.
Ultimately, however, I see a close game that the Eagles may lead much of the way, but one that will end with Mahomes making big plays in the fourth quarter and winning his second Super Bowl.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 24, Eagles 21.
Florio’s take: For the first time since 2017, both No. 1 seeds have advanced to the Super Bowl. And, on paper, the Eagles are just a little bit better than the Chiefs.
But the Chiefs have the one thing the Eagles don’t. As in one-five. 15. Patrick Mahomes.
Five straight AFC Championships at home. Three Super Bowl appearances. And, if he’s ever going to come close to Tom Brady’s seven titles, it’s time to get No. 2.
The ankle is more than good enough. The team around him is more than good enough. Unless the Eagles methodically suffocate the Chiefs with the running game and in turn get to Mahomes and sack him repeatedly, this one should be close and it should be exciting and it should come down to the wire with the Chiefs finding a way to pull it off.
Kansas City has fought through more adversity than the Eagles, especially in the playoffs. That matters. Kansas City also has the experience edge in the Super Bowl. That matter’s, too.
What matters most is the presence of the best quarterback in football, a sure-fire Hall of Famer who may eventually earn a spot in the Canton Upper Room proposed by Deion Sanders. Mahomes.
The Magic Man. The man among boys. The guy who finds a way to move the ball, to score points, and to do it in a way that is always far more entertaining than anything anyone else can muster.
It’s time to win his second. On his way to possibly more.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 27, Eagles 24.