Insight from the Real Experts: Chiefs vs. Eagles

It's time again for our weekly conversation with the real experts of the Chiefs upcoming opponent, the fan who follows the team day in and day out. The Chiefs return home this week after a miserable performance in Denver to take on the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Eagles are the defending NFC champions and have been to four consecutive NFC championship games. That consistent performance has Eagles fans very excited and passionate about their team.

Our panel of Eagles experts consists of the following fans:
Sush Nimbkar A 38-year old student, from Boston, MA, an Eagles fan for 20+ years.

Tommy Lawlor, a 36-year old air freight forwarder from Chapel Hill, NC, an Eagles fan for 20 years.

William Guarino, a 26-year old business consultant, from London, England, an Eagles fan for 21 years.

Christopher Crater, a 26-year old video editor, from Aberdeen, NJ, an Eagles fan since birth.

Karl Elcenko III, a 27-year old billing department employee, from Levittown, PA, an Eagles fan his whole life.

Our panel of experts believe that the Eagles have a distinct advantage in their offensive attack featuring running back Brian Westbrook, who is lethal both rushing the ball and catching passes out of the back field, as well as Terrell Owens, one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Given the Chiefs defensive performance in Denver, these fans have much to be optimistic about.

Question: What aspect of the Eagles attack do the Chiefs not have an answer for?
Answer: "Brian Westbrook, and Terrell Owens. Westbrook especially, he is so versatile and can do so many things that you can't stop him every time. As Owens proved in the game against the Raiders: just when you think you have him figured out, he will burn you for a big play." – Sush Nimbkar

"I don't think the Chiefs have any player who really matches up well with Brian Westbrook (what team does?). The key will be to see how KC defends him. I'm also curious to see how well the Chiefs handle TO. He's been most productive this year working out of the slot. Will Surtain cover him in the slot?" – Tommy Lawlor

"I'm not sure that anyone has an answer for Brian Westbrook right now. If you pay too much attention to Owens, Westbrook gets a favorable match up. I'm not sure any linebacker in the NFL can cover him right now. Westbrook had two long completions against the Raiders, and I believe that he was covered by a linebacker both times." - Christopher Crater

"Our Offense. Mainly Brian Westbrook. I honestly don't think there is anyone who can cover him one-on-one. Our offense has so many weapons that there is going to be mismatches, and I see Westbrook as creating the most problems." – Karl Elcenko III

Analysis: Westbrook is a dual threat out of the Eagles backfield. Through three games this year, Westbrook has rushed for 204 yards with 5.1 yards per carry. He also has 16 receptions for 235 receiving yards. The Chiefs will certainly have to account for Westbrook. Throughout the OTAs and training camp the report was that Kendrell Bell and Derrick Johnson excelled in coverage. The Chiefs will likely take their chances with those 2 linebackers matching up with Westbrook out of the backfield in order to free up the secondary to take on Terrell Owens and the other Eagles receivers.

Question: What aspect of the Eagles concerns you the most?
Answer: "Really I look at the injuries we have, with an ailing Akers, a slower McNabb, Walker missing another game, and that might slow us down and shift momentum to the Chiefs." – William Guarino

"I think my main concern this week is the play of McNabb. He's hurting right now, and I'm not so sure he should even be playing this week." - Christopher Crater

"Injuries. McNabb being banged up, T.O looks good but is not fully 100%, Westbrook is not 100% and our kicker David Green Akers, well to say the least is not even 50% As explosive as our offense is. They are also hurting a bit. " – Karl Elcenko III

Analysis: Injuries could be a deciding factor in this game. Monday night's offensive debacle in Denver magnified the importance of Willie Roaf to the Chiefs offense. It is likely that he will miss this week's game against the Eagles so the Chiefs will be forced to rely on Jordan Black to man the left tackle spot. The Eagles are a blitzing defense and that won't change this week. That will also put more pressure on Black and the rest of the offensive line. The good news for the Chiefs is that Jason Dunn and Tony Richardson should be healthier this week than they were last week. Neither has been 100% for the last 2 games and their blocking prowess has shown it.

On the Eagles side the injuries to Owens and Westbrook really shouldn't be a factor. They have produced all year with these injuries; there doesn't appear to be any reason why that production shouldn't continue. The injuries to McNabb and Akers are the most pressing for the Eagles. McNabb has been diagnosed with an abdominal strain (or a sports hernia). He was in so much pain against the Raiders last week that head coach Andy Reid considered replacing him. However, McNabb fought through the pain to lead a game winning field goal drive. McNabb has proven to be a warrior throughout his career. Who can forget his 2002 performance against the Arizona Cardinals when he played 3 ½ quarters on a broken ankle and threw 4 touchdown passes?

Even though McNabb is a warrior, the Chiefs should go after him with blitzes up the middle. They must protect the edges with Bell and Johnson on Westbrook, but Kawika Mitchell should be coming hard at McNabb. The biggest impact of his injury is that it limits his mobility. The Chiefs can't allow him to get comfortable with the pain. Bringing the blitz and hitting McNabb early may cause the pain to escalate and get into his mind. When that happens, mistakes can happen.

Akers will likely be replaced by Todd France, a strong legged, yet inexperienced kicker recently signed by the Eagles. France was the leading scorer in NFL Europe this past season with 91 points. He hit 24-of-34 field goal attempts and all 17 of his extra point attempts. However, this will be his first NFL game in a hostile environment and he will be facing the leagues best kick returner in Dante Hall. That's a lot of pressure for a young kicker.

Conclusion: This is a big game for the Chiefs. Still a win or a loss will not make or break their season. However, after their horrible performance on Monday night against the Broncos, this game is an opportunity to regain the momentum, confidence and respect they had garnered after the first games against the Jets and the Raiders against a very good opponent.

The Chiefs must find an answer for Westbrook and it must come from Derrick Johnson and Kendrell Bell. Terrell Owens will likely get a number of catches and yards, perhaps a touchdown or two. However, if the Chiefs can hold the rest of the Eagles receiving corps in check, as they did when Moss had a big game for the Raiders against them, they could still pull out a victory.

The Chiefs need to have an attack mind set. With McNabb hurting, the Chiefs must show no mercy and go after him. The Eagles will blitz, and blitz a lot. The Chiefs must attack the blitz. Opportunities for big plays are there when a team blitzes. If the Chiefs take the attitude to attack it, they may be able to put up some points on the Eagles and go into the bye week 3-1.


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