Andy Reid is heading back to the Super Bowl after 15 years, but does he have a better shot to win this time?
We all remember Super Bowl XXXIX and the way the Eagles lost to the Patriots.
That Eagles team was 13-3 (they were 13-1 before they decided to rest starters and cruise into the playoffs) and finished in first place in the NFC East. This year’s Chiefs team, led by Reid, was 12-4 and finished in first place in the AFC West.
Like these Chiefs, those Eagles took down their first two playoff opponents with relative ease. In 2005, the Eagles’ won their two playoff games before the Super Bowl by an average of 15 points per game; these Chiefs won their first two by an average of 15.5.
This is just a fun exercise, but let’s go position-by-position to figure out which of Big Red’s Super Bowl teams is better.
Eagles: Donovan McNabb
Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes
No, McNabb clearly didn’t have his best performance in Super Bowl XXXIX but he was no slouch coming into that game. Remember, that 2004 season was the fifth straight Pro Bowl season for him and 2004 was his best season. He set an Eagles record with 3,875 yards and had 31 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He finally got a big-time receiver — sure, we know that didn’t end well — and had the best season of his career.
But Mahomes is just better. He didn’t have the numbers this year that he did last year but he’s arguably the best player in the league. In the last two seasons, he’s thrown 76 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. In these playoffs, he has eight touchdowns and zero picks.
Eagles: Tra Thomas, Artis Hicks, Hank Fraley, Jermane Mayberry, Jon Runyan
Chiefs: Eric Fisher, Stefen Wisniewski, Austin Reiter, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Mitchell Schwartz
Schwartz is one of the best right tackles in the league and overall the Chiefs have a really good unit, even with Wiz filling in at left tackle. They deserve a ton of credit for their success. But the Eagles back then had their bookends in Thomas and Runyan, and Mayberry at right guard who won a Pro Bowl a couple years earlier. If Shawn Andrews was able to stay healthy that year, this would be a runaway. Still …
Eagles: Terrell Owens, Todd Pinkston, Greg Lewis, Freddie Mitchell
Chiefs: Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson
In that Super Bowl, the Eagles got one of the greatest receivers in the history of the NFL back in action and he was tremendous. After missing a month and a half with a broken leg, T.O. went for nine catches and 122 yards in that Super Bowl. And that season in 14 games, he caught 77 passes for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns. Owens was great … but the rest of that group was average, even though Pinkston was better than you remember.
And if you take a look at the speed the Chiefs have on offense, most of it is at receiver. These guys seem to make big play after big play. So the Eagles had the best individual receiver but they don’t have a better group. The Chiefs are four deep.
Eagles: Brian Westbrook, Dorsey Levens, Josh Parry
Chiefs: Damien Williams, LeSean McCoy, Darwin Thompson
Williams is a pretty good player and he’s had two solid games in the playoffs. But Shady has played one snap in the playoffs and simply hasn’t been himself in a while. And remember, Westbrook in 2004 had his breakout season. He had over 1,500 yards from scrimmage. And in the two playoff games before the Super Bowl, Westbrook had 252 scrimmage yards and a touchdown.
Chiefs: Travis Kelce, Blake Bell
Eagles: L.J. Smith
I always think about what a shame it was that Chad Lewis got hurt in the NFC Championship Game and couldn’t play in the Super Bowl that year. That left the Eagles with L.J. Smith, who had 377 receiving yards in 2004. Meanwhile, Kelce happens to be one of the best tight ends in the league and has been to five consecutive Pro Bowls while going over 1,000 yards in each of the last four years. This one is easy.
Eagles: Derrick Burgess, Corey Simon, Darwin Walker, Jevon Kearse, Hollis Thomas, Hugh Douglas, Sam Rayburn, Jerome McDougle
Chiefs: Frank Clark, Chris Jones, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Terrell Suggs, Derrick Nnadi, Mike Pennel, Xavier Williams, Khalen Saunders
This one was really tough to figure out and the numbers tell me the Eagles have it. They had the NFL’s 16th-best rushing defense, while the Chiefs had the NFL’s 26th-best rushing defense. And The Eagles had 47 sacks in 2004, while the Chiefs had 45 in 2019. But Kearse and Douglas weren’t the same guys they once were. Burgess hadn’t yet gone to Oakland to have his breakout seasons. Simon was solid and the Eagles had a good rotation.
But the Chiefs have a couple of elite players in Clark and Jones. So, to me, they have the best edge player and the best interior lineman of this group. And Kpassagnon puts the group over the top after his two-sack performance in the AFC Championship Game. This one was admittedly really close and I went back and forth a few times.
Eagles: Jeremiah Trotter, Mark Simoneau, Keith Adams, Mark Simoneau, Dhani Jones, Ike Reese
Chiefs: Damien Wilson, Anthony Hitchens, Reggie Ragland
This one was really hard to judge because these are basically different positions that we’re comparing 15 years apart. The Chiefs’ linebackers wouldn’t have been very good in 2004 and the Eagles’ linebackers wouldn’t have been very good in 2019. Responsibilities of linebackers have changed so much.
Above we looked at the Eagles’ run defense and a huge reason for their success was Trotter, who was an elite player back in 2004 once he took his starting job back. He’s the best player of the bunch and even with Adams and company with him, I’m leaning that way.
Eagles: Lito Sheppard, Sheldon Brown, Rod Hood
Chiefs: Charvarius Ward, Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller
Nothing wrong with Ward or Breeland, who’ve both been playing pretty well. But Lito and Sheldon were just better. Remember, Sheppard had an All-Pro season in 2004 with five interceptions and two returned for a touchdown. And Brown also had a very good season; he had 2 INTs, 16 PBUs and 3 sacks.
Eagles: Brian Dawkins, Michael Lewis
Chiefs: Tyrann Mathieu, Daniel Sorensen
If Juan Thornhill was healthy this would be a little closer but the promising rookie has missed the playoffs with a torn ACL. And Mathieu is an undeniably great player. But Dawk is a Hall of Famer and he was right in the middle of his prime for the Super Bowl run. And Lewis that season made his only Pro Bowl. This one was pretty easy.
Eagles: David Akers, Dirk Johnson, Rod Hood, J.R. Reed, Brian Westbrook
Chiefs: Harrison Butker, Dustin Colquitt, Mecole Hardman
In 2004, Akers was a Pro Bowler, making 27 of 32 field goals. But Butker has been very good in 2019, making 34 of 38 and was 3 for 6 on field goals of 50-plus. Ultimately, having Hardman’s ability to break one is a bit of an X-factor. His 58-yard return against the Texans really helped turn that game around.
Takeaways: This was really close. With the way the way I broke the categories down, it came out 5-5. But that’s not to say I couldn’t have had the secondary as one position and the DL as two. But the point of all this is that these are two different but very good teams. I think many people have forgotten just how good that 2004 Eagles team was. They were 13-1 before they rested starters in the last two games of the regular season.
Ultimately, I’m giving the slight edge to the 2019 Chiefs for two reasons. First, I’ll ride with Mahomes. Not taking away anything from McNabb back in ’04 because he was really good that season, but Mahomes is just special. And I’ll always give a nod to the team with the better quarterback. And the other reason is Reid himself. I think he’s simply a better coach than he was 15 years ago with the Eagles. He’s learned a lot and maybe he’s still not the best game-day manager but he has been very innovative with his offense in KC and there’s a good chance he finally gets it done this year.
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