WHEN THE CHIEFS PASS
Matt Cassel should be more comfortable for the Chiefs this time around, but the Eagles will do their best to make him uncomfortable. Philadelphia's blitz packages are varied, complicated and based on a Week 1 game against the Panthers, lethal. The Eagles got to Jake Delhomme five times in a 38-10 rout.
Last week, Philly's pass rush was less effective against the Saints. Given the Chiefs' issues on the offensive line, however, it's safe to say the Eagles will be quite a challenge. Fortunately, Philadelphia doesn't move Trent Cole, their best pass rusher, around much. Cole is not the fastest defensive end in the league, but he has a good array of moves and brings a strong bullrush, so Branden Albert will have his hands full.
When the Eagles blitz, they show a variety of formations – a 3-man front with linebackers coming, a five-man line with two linebackers, or just a muddle of players standing around before the snap. They will bring safeties at times. It can be difficult to decipher who's coming and who's not, as players will drop into coverage and squeeze off passing lanes.
Darren Howard, a backup at end for the Eagles, will frequently play tackle in pass-rush situations, and had two sacks against the Panthers in Week 1. He could give some issues to Mike Goff, who has struggled so far at right guard for the Chiefs this year.
The Eagles' secondary doesn't feature a top-of-the-line, marquee corner like Nnamdi Asomugha, whom the Chiefs faced a week ago. But across the board, they're easily stronger than most NFL secondaries. Kansas City lacks speed in their receiver corps, so they'll have to rely on Dwayne Bowe to take advantage of Philadelphia's smaller corners. If Bowe is out with an injury – and he is a question mark this week – it may be difficult for Cassel to find open targets.
WHEN THE EAGLES PASS
The Eagles knew what they were doing when they traded for Jason Peters this offseason. So far he has slid into the left tackle spot effortlessly and the offense around him has not missed a beat. This is a difficult matchup for Tamba Hali, especially after he struggled a week ago against a far inferior tackle in Oakland's Mario Henderson.
Peters' opposite linemate, right tackle Winston Justice, is a new starter for the Eagles also, and has looked comfortable so far. The Chiefs may not face a more athletic tandem of offensive tackles than Peters and Justice all season. The Eagles are adept at protecting the quarterback, and it's doubtful Kansas City's rush, even if they blitz, will get there. Rookie back LeSean McCoy may be something of a liability in pass protection, however, if Brian Westbrook does not play.
The quarterback will likely be Kevin Kolb, who started for the injured Donovan McNabb last week. Kolb is young, but has potential, and is not as much a liability as some fans might think. He shows an ability to get rid of the ball on time, isn't confused by what defenses throw at him, and even throws accurately in the face of blitzers. He's an athletic passer with a strong arm, and a much better quarterback than JaMarcus Russell, who completed just seven passes against the Chiefs last week.
The Eagles' top target, Desean Jackson, is an extremely fast, quick receiver reminiscent of Miami's Ted Ginn, Jr. The Eagles love to get the ball to Jackson on crossing routes but will send him downfield, too. He torched the Saints on a 71-yard post pattern over the middle of the field last week.
The rest of Philly's wide receivers – Kevin Curtis, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant – all bring speed, and Avant brings some size to the table. This is a difficult matchup for the Chiefs based on their poor zone coverage over the middle of the field early on, especially the linebackers. Without Derrick Johnson, who is out for Sunday, the Eagles may take advantage.
Philadelphia's tight end, Brent Celek, is a threat, also. He's tough to bring down in the open field simply based on his strength and size, so the Chiefs must gang tackle him.
WHEN THE CHIEFS RUN
If there's an area where the Chiefs can gain an edge this week it might be in the running game. The Eagles are not particularly big up front. Their defensive tackles, Mike Patterson and Broderick Bunkley, only go about 300 pounds apiece, both are built stout and low to the ground, however, with plenty of quickness.
If the Chiefs can lean on Patterson and Bunkley a bit with their larger offensive guards, they may be able to wear them down and open some holes. If that happens, the Eagles are not particularly stacked at linebacker, with no huge names ala Ray Lewis or Thomas Howard, whom the Chiefs faced in Weeks 1 and 2.
Overall, Philly just isn't that big anywhere on defense, although linebacker Chris Gocong tips the scales at 263 pounds. Their biggest safety, Sean Jones, is a backup. The Chiefs have something of a size advantage this week, and it might play in their favor.
WHEN THE EAGLES RUN
The Eagles have run from the wildcat formation so much during the season's first two weeks it's beginning to look like their base offense. They use multiple threats running from it – Brian Westbrook, Desean Jackson, LeSean McCoy – and this week may introduce Michael Vick to the mix.
Westbrook may miss this week's game due to injury. McCoy is a relative unknown as a rookie, but was one of the fastest backs in the draft this year and can make people miss. He's elusive in the open field, but had some issues fumbling the ball in college. The Chiefs might be able to take advantage there.
The biggest challenge in stopping the Eagles' running attack may be their huge offensive line. Philadelphia has two enormous road graders at guard in Nick Cole, who is a bowling ball of a lineman at 350 pounds and only six feet, and Max-Jean Gilles, who is even bigger. Jamaal Jackson might be the biggest center in the league at 330 pounds and the Eagles have a big fullback in Leonard Weaver.
After what the Ravens did to the Chiefs two weeks ago, the Eagles may line up and run right at Kansas City. If Glenn Dorsey and Tank Tyler have truly improved, we'll find out this week. If McCoy gets into the secondary, KC's slow safeties may have a difficult time bringing him down. Throw in the wildcat and Vick, and there's plenty to be worried about.
The Eagles' veteran kicker, David Akers is as reliable as ever, but his leg on kickoffs is not quite as strong as it used to be. Philadelphia's kick returners, Ellis Hobbs and Desean Jackson, are threats. Hobbs owns three career kickoff returns for scores.
The Eagles were blown out a week ago by the Saints, and Michael Vick's debut may bring some excitement to the contest. The Chiefs are banged up as Matt Cassel starts for the first time on the road this year.
The Eagles have established systems on offense and defense with major talent on both sides of the ball, even with injuries. Asking a beat-up Chiefs team to win in Week 3 is too much. If Kansas City is truly improved, they ought to be able to avoid an embarrassing blowout, however.
Eagles 34, Chiefs 17
The Matchups - Chiefs vs Eagles
WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories
Packers Acquire Davis; Place Shields on IRKnile Davis goes from fourth on the depth chart in Kansas City to a key role with the short-handed Packers. He is big and fast but to this point has failed to put it all together.
Packer ReportTuesday at 6:51 AM
Week 6 NFL DFS: DraftKings Secret StarsHave you experienced the fun of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS)? We have some recommendations for you if you're interested in participating in contests over at DraftKings. With just a…
Week 6: Four Bewildering BackfieldsEvery week, Fantasy Football Expert Mark Morales-Smith examines the most turbulent backfields in the NFL to help decipher whether or not there are any Fantasy stars in the making.
Three Backfields With Question MarksEvery week, Fantasy Football Expert Mark Morales-Smith examines the most turbulent backfields in the NFL to help decipher whether or not there are any Fantasy stars in the making..…