The Philadelphia Eagles came away from Sunday’s loss knowing that they had to be able to put together a full effort from all three phases of their football team. On Thursday they will take the field against the Kansas City Chiefs, and their old coach. If they are going to start making a move, the time is now. Kickoff on the NFL Network is slated for 8:25 PM ET.
In the NFL betting odds that have been posted on this game by the people at Bovada, the Eagles are the favorites:
The biggest storyline this week, though, is the return of Andy Reid to the City of Brotherly Love. Not that he has been gone all that long; he left there about nine months ago. And he is not playing it up all that much. But he is coming back with a situation where he looks like he may have initiated a quick turnaround. One of the things Kansas City’s ownership had in mind as they approached the off-season was holding onto the football, because they were tied (with Reid’s Eagles, interestingly enough) for the most turnovers in the league last year, with 37.
So they reached out and signed free agent Alex Smith. Thus far, that venture seems to be working out well. Smith was careful with the ball when he was playing under Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco, though he doesn’t go downfield all that much. Indeed, his yards-per-pass in Andy Reid’s West Coast attack is less than six yards per game (5.7, to be exact). But Smith has helped the Chiefs (the +145 money line underdog at Bovada) do something they wanted, which was to avoid turnovers. They have yet to cough tit up thus far, and that is great news for all pro football bettors who have backed them against Dallas and Jacksonville, games where they both won and covered the spread.
The Chiefs’ defense has also been surprisingly good, especially when it comes to getting at the passer. They have scored nine sacks, and second-year nose tackle Dontari Poe has been a revelation, putting on a lot of pressure. Opponents have converted less than 27% of third downs in the first two games.
Of course, this may be a different ballgame altogether for them, as Chip Kelly does seem to be doing what he set out to do. Here is a team that gained 511 yards against the San Diego Chargers last week and held the ball for less than 20 minutes. They go fast, and when they score, it doesn’t take them long. This is a good matchup of backs between KC’s Jamaal Charles and Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy, and McCoy has been hard to stop, with 456 total yards from scrimmage. Michael Vick has no interceptions and an average of over ten yards per attempt. DeSean Jackson has a shade under 300 yards receiving, leading the NFL. The Eagles are averaging seven yards a play. So things seem to going pretty well on that side.
When we say that the Eagles (the -165 favorite in the Bovada’s money line betting) are facing the “some of old problems” above, it’s not just for the purposes of constructing a snappy headline. Philadelphia had an encouraging first half of football on the defensive side against Washington, but they did not really show up against San Diego in Week 2. It could be that Kelly’s offense moves quickly enough that it leaves the defense to go out there for too long without rest. But the consistency hasn’t been there. Certainly we are just two weeks in, so there is not an extensive sampling, but while opposing quarterbacks have just a 68.1 rating against the Chiefs, they have a 100.5 rating against the Eagles.
Realistically the jury has to remain out on both of these teams. The Chiefs may be able to get into the wild card mix in the AFC, settling in behind Denver eventually in the West division. And the Eagles don’t have an insurmountable hill to climb in competing against the Giants, Redskins and Cowboys in the NFC East. But one game at a time. And in this one, the familiarity Reid has with the Eagles’ personnel could be an “X” factor that winds up making all the difference in the world.