Monday’s showdown between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles might be the most anticipated regular-season game of the NFL season and seemingly has something to offer to any potential viewer.
Any locked-in football fan would get excited about a Super Bowl rematch featuring two of this season’s top teams on a primetime stage on ABC/ESPN. Like a Super Bowl, both teams had two weeks to prepare after coming off byes.
This game also offers historical significance, as Andy Reid attempts to pass Hank Stram for the most wins in Chiefs history while facing his former team. And a sibling rivalry with Eagles center Jason Kelce facing his brother and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.
For the casual fan, this Monday Night Football matchup at Arrowhead Stadium also features two top-10 offenses and plenty of star power, both on the field and in the luxury suites. But after all the hype and anticipation, there will be a football game – an important one with playoff seeding implications.
The Eagles enter the NFL Week 11 with a league-best record of 8-1, but they hold just a one-game lead over the 7-2 Detroit Lions in the NFC’s race for a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the postseason.
The 7-2 Chiefs also enter the showdown with the best record in the AFC, but the Baltimore Ravens are poised to overtake them after Thursday’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals bumped their record to 8-3.
Both teams entered their bye weeks after significant victories in Week 9, with the Chiefs getting a 21-14 win over the Miami Dolphins in Germany and the Eagles claiming bragging rights by beating the Dallas Cowboys 28-23.
Monday’s juicy matchup has earned a NFL-high 78 SmartRating, which measures games by their excitement level. The excitement scale translates to the following general sub-ranges: 0-39 (Dull Game), 40-64 (OK Game), 65-84 (Good Game), 85-100 (Great Game).
Oddsmakers consider these teams as relative equals, favoring the Chiefs by 2.5 points at home. Our prediction model agrees that the Chiefs are the best bets, giving Kansas City a 53.8% chance of victory.
Sportsbooks have listed a consensus point total of 45.5, which may seem low considering these teams combined for 73 points in Super Bowl LVII in February. But both defenses have flown under the radar a bit this season, especially the Chiefs’ unit and our model projects a 23-21 final.
While Kansas City is deservedly known for Reid’s schemes and the brilliance of Patrick Mahomes, the defense has quietly allowed just 15.8 points per game – tied for the fewest in the NFL and nearly a six-point improvement over last season’s 21.7.
Opponent Plays of 20+ Yards
- 1. Kansas City Chiefs (24)
- T-2. Carolina Panthers (27)
- T-2. New York Jets (27)
- T-2. San Francisco 49ers (27)
- 5. Las Vegas Raiders (28)
KC Key: Stop the Run
Much like last season, KC’s defense is built to play with the lead and is excellent at harassing opposing quarterbacks. After ranking second in the league with 55 sacks last season, Kansas City is among the NFL’s leaders again this year with 31 sacks (tied for third).
The Chiefs have sacked opposing quarterbacks on 9.0% of passing plays, well above the league average of 6.6%. The back end is getting the job done as well, with 73.7% of passes against the Kansas City defense thrown to an open wide receiver. That’s the fourth-lowest rate in the NFL.
Good coverage and rush have combined to give the Chiefs the second-best pass defense in the league, with a 34.4% success rate allowed on passing plays.
But this game could depend on how well Kansas City shuts down the underdog Eagles’ versatile running game. The Chiefs have allowed just three rushing touchdowns, which is tied for the fewest in the league.
But opponents have a 37.0% success rate on rushing plays – above the league average of 35.1% – and the Chiefs rank in the bottom five with 2.9 yards allowed before contact per rush. They will have to be better against a dangerous Eagles running game that leads the league with a 44.0% success rate.
Despite having such a successful rushing attack, only 7.2% of Philadelphia’s rushes have gone for 10 or more yards – a bottom-five rate. Instead, the Eagles, who have won three games in a row, use the ground game to churn out first downs and draw the defense closer to the line of scrimmage, opening up chances to throw the deep ball.
Catches of 25+ Yards
- T-1. A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles (13)
- T-1. Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins (13)
- T-3. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers (10)
- T-3. CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys (10)
- T-5. Noah Brown, Houston Texans (9)
- T-5. Nico Collins, Houston Texans (9)
- T-5. Christian Kirk, Jacksonville Jaguars (9)
Over his last seven games, Brown is averaging 128.1 yards per game and has scored six TDs.
Philly’s offense starts on the ground, however, and if the Chiefs defense can stop the run without committing extra defenders in the box, it could take away shot plays to Brown as well.
PHI Key: Limit Yards After Catch
The Chiefs offense has undergone a transformation since losing Tyreek Hill. Once a free-wheeling unit that could score from anywhere on the field, Kansas City’s offense now uses a short passing game to create opportunities after the catch.
Mahomes is averaging 7.21 air yards per attempt, well below league average. Even when screen passes are excluded, he is averaging 8.90 air yards per throw.
Despite the change in strategy, Mahomes still ranks sixth with 2,442 passing yards this season, thanks largely to a league-leading 1,428 yards after the catch.
The key for the Eagles defensively will be to stop KC receivers in their tracks as often as possible, something that Philadelphia has excelled at this season.
The Eagles defense ranks fifth in the NFL in average yards allowed after catch at 4.8. They’ve also stopped receivers at or behind the spot of the catch a league-high 60 times.
Yards After Catch Allowed
- 1. Philadelphia Eagles (60)
- 2. New England Patriots (54)
- T-3. Baltimore Ravens (53)
- T-3. Houston Texans (53)
- T-3. San Francisco 49ers (53)
With the Chiefs offense so reliant on yards after the catch, Philadelphia’s strong-tackling defense could make things difficult on Mahomes’ crew.
This game appears to be very evenly matched, and unless Mahomes or Jalen Hurts commits a pivotal turnover, it may be won or lost in the margins.
A few yards after the catch here or there – or a missed tackle or two in the running game – could mean the difference between a repeat of last season’s Super Bowl – or the Eagles extracting some revenge for that heart-breaking loss.