SUPER BOWL LVII: The Super Bowl has become part sporting event and part entertainment spectacle, and on Sunday some of the 200 million-strong global viewing audience will be tuning in to watch the Eagles and Chiefs, and others to watch Rihanna and friends, Chris Stapleton, and the various celebrity cameos and moments of weirdness that we’ve come to expect from this production.

This is also the only 4-hour block of television that I’m aware of in which many people eagerly await and closely watch the commercial advertisements, as companies will do their creative best to stand out among the crowd and the result is often amusing, surprising, or both. This year, Forbes has reported that a 30-second spot is going for a record $7 million USD, so we won’t have to worry about being interrupted by your local used car dealer in a bad toupee screaming about his latest zero-interest finance deal. We’re more likely to see Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx in a Martin Scorsese-directed ad for a tech startup called “Monkey Dice” or something, or a reunion of the old Seinfeld cast to hawk the new vanilla Pepsi. It’s a celebration of capitalism, to be sure, and I’m here for it, in between mouthfuls of whatever nacho/cheese/beef concoction I’ll be scarfing down on the sofa.

The game itself should be a dandy– Philadelphia boasts a ferocious defense and an efficient offense led by a quarterback who threw for 3,700 yards this season and also happens to be the team’s best runner, while the Chiefs have the great Patrick Mahomes, who carved up the Cincinnati defense to the tune of 326 yards and 2 touchdowns in the AFC Championship game despite playing on a severely sprained ankle. He’s now had two weeks to rest that ankle, so the Eagles secondary had better be ready for their biggest challenge of the season– Mahomes-to-Kelce is the most lethal connection in the NFL. It’s a difficult game to predict, as I expect it to be quite competitive, but I’m fine with a little excitement and unpredictability for the year’s final game. Here are some thoughts on what we can expect to see:


Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs

BETDAQ Line: Philadelphia -1.5 (50.5)

There are no Cinderella stories here– these were two of the top teams in the NFL all season and they were the 1-seeds in their respective conferences. This is the third Super Bowl appearance in the last four years for the Chiefs, and it will be interesting to see if that experience gives them an edge early in the game, when nerves will likely be high. The Eagles sure haven’t shown any signs of nerves or anything close to it in these playoffs, however, rolling over the Giants and 49ers by a combined score of 69-14. This is a different sort of challenge, though, especially on the defensive side of the ball, as the Mahomes-led Kansas City offense has had an answer for just about anything opposing defenses have thrown at them for about six years running now.

For the Chiefs, the questions all start with the health of Mahomes and his receivers, several of whom were banged up in the AFC Championship game. Mecole Hardman, the longest-tenured Kansas City receiver, is going to miss this game with an abdominal injury, while fellow wideouts JuJu Smith-Schuster and Kadarius Toney have been limited in practice but are expected to give it a go. But the most important KC pass-catcher, All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce, is nowhere to be found on the injury report, so Mahomes will have his top target at full strength as they try to dissect a Philadelphia defense that led the NFL in pass yards allowed and recorded an astounding 70 sacks, most in the league by a wide margin and the third-most in NFL history. Mahomes’s ankle might be healthy enough to pass for 300+ on the Bengals, but can he dodge the league’s most potent pass rush and drive the ball downfield against the NFL’s stingiest secondary?

On the other side of the ball, teams have simply had no answer for the Philadelphia offense, as the offseason addition of Pro Bowl wideout A.J. Brown has paid huge dividends and has helped Jalen Hurts develop into a dangerous pocket passer. The thing that makes Hurts unique, however, is his running ability, and behind the NFL’s best offensive line he’s established himself as the league’s premier short-yardage rushing option. This Philly offense has a toughness and an edge about them, and I’m not sure those are words that you’d use to describe the Kansas City defense, a unit that ranked a dismal 30th in the red zone this season, surrendering a touchdown over 65% of the time the opposition crossed their 20-yard line.

The Xs and Os here will be fascinating– Andy Reid is one of the league’s preeminent offensive minds, and he’s had two weeks to figure out how to attack a defense that has been pretty much impenetrable for most of the season, especially in the secondary. I expect the Chiefs passing attack to heavily target slot receivers and running backs, in addition to the ever-dangerous Travis Kelce, as the matchups on the outside, where Philly has elite corners Darius Slay and James Bradberry, are not particularly favorable. When the Eagles have the ball, it will be interesting to see how confident they are in letting Jalen Hurts take some shots downfield against a Kansas City secondary that surrendered the most touchdown passes in the NFL this season. Hurts hasn’t looked quite the same since spraining the SC joint in his throwing shoulder in Week 15, and he’s averaged just 137.5 passing yards in two easy postseason wins. To beat the Chiefs, however, he’ll need to do more.

And I think he will.

Prediction: Philadelphia 27, Kansas City 23

Recommended Bets: Philadelphia -1.5 at 1.99; Under 50.5 at 2.0

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