PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (1-0) AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (1-0)
SERIES HISTORY: 8th regular-season meeting. Eagles lead series, 4-3. The Chiefs have lost two of their four home openers under coach Andy Reid. The Chiefs prevailed in the only other matchup between Reid and his former team. The Chiefs won 26-16 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia behind the 172 total yards of running back Jamaal Charles.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The student meets the master as Doug Pederson leads his Eagles against Pederson’s former boss, Andy Reid.
Kansas City, fresh off a convincing win at New England, must figure out how to protect Alex Smith and open up running lanes outside for rookie running back Kareem Hunt.
Hunt found success on the edges in Week 1, gaining 128 yards on 12 carries, but the rookie picked up just 11 yards on three inside rushes.
The Chiefs’ offensive line faces a steep challenge against the Eagles’ front seven, starting with defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. The Eagles present a tough, physical pressure defense that will test the nimble and athletic Chiefs offensive front. That puts pressure on Smith to get rid of the ball quickly.
When the Eagles have the ball, the biggest battles loom on the edges with tackles Lane Johnson and Jason Peters tasked with protecting quarterback Carson Wentz from pass rushers Justin Houston and Dee Ford.
But Wentz showed last week he doesn’t always need time to make plays down field.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
–Chiefs OL vs. Eagles front seven. The Chiefs use their athletic and nimble offensive line to create opportunities on the edges and down the field. The Eagles’ front seven, led by Fletcher Cox, poses a more physical challenge than the Chiefs faced last week at New England. The offensive line must provide time for QB Alex Smith and create running lanes for rookie RB Kareem Hunt.
–Chiefs LB Justin Houston vs. Eagles RT Lane Johnson. Houston looked in peak form against the Patriots, notching two sacks and showing the ability to make plays in both the run and passing games. Johnson keeping Houston away from Wentz is the key to neutralizing the Chiefs’ pass rush.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Chiefs RB Charcandrick West. West received just one touch against New England, but made it count with a 21-yard touchdown run. RB Kareem Hunt faces the pressure of following up one of the best debuts in NFL history, but a week of distractions could take their toll on the rookie. West looks healthy once again after a high-ankle sprain derailed much of his 2016 season. West can run as well as catch the ball out of the backfield.
FAST FACTS: Eagles QB Carson Wentz completed 26 of 39 (66.7 percent) for 307 yards, two TDs and a pick in Week 1. The second-year player has five career 300-yard games and is 4-0 in September. … Eagles WR Nelson Agholor tallied a career-high six receptions for 86 yards, including a 58-yard TD, last week. … Eagles DE Brandon Graham had two sacks and forced a fumble in Week 1. … Eagles DT Fletcher Cox tallied a sack, forced a fumble and returned a fumble for a TD last week. He has five sacks in his past five games vs. the AFC. … Chiefs coach Andy Reid was Philadelphia’s coach from 1999 to 2012 and led the Eagles to five NFC Championship Games. … Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt tallied 246 scrimmage yards (148 rushing), the most by an NFL player in his debut. He also scored three TDs.
PREDICTION: These coaches know each other well, and the difference just might be QB experience and special teams, which both favor the home team.
OUR PICK: Chiefs, 27-24.