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Eagles at Chiefs is a man-to-man challenge match

The Chieves are 5.5 point favorites going into this game which is being hyped as the Test of the Student (Doug Pederson) versus the Teacher (Andy Reid). Personally I see it more as the test of a lot of one-on-one matchups having more to do with player ability and performance than with coaching scheme. If the Eagles play a clean game (clean= less than 50 yards in penalties, no turnovers) I like their chances.

Pederson announced that cornerback Ronald Darby (ankle), running back Donnel Pumphrey(hamstring), and defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao (wrist) are all out against Kansas City.

Pederson hinted at the possibility that rookie defensive tackle Elijah Qualls may take some reps filling in for the injured Vaeao. Recently signed kicker Jake Elliott will make his NFL debut in the wake of Caleb Sturgis’ injury.

How fast is Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill? Eagles media guru Dave Spadaro asked a player that question:

“He’s fast. Like, really fast,” cornerback Jalen Mills said.

So how fast is he? As fast as, say, DeSean Jackson?

“Faster, I think,” Mills said. “You watch him and it’s like, fast, man.”

Kansas City is playing without star safety Eric Berry, so the Eagles need to make something happen in the midfield and downfield. Getting something going with a vertical passing game could depend upon establishing a running game first, however, so I hope you are prepared for some occasional frustration on offense.

Offensive tackles have a lot of pressure on them this week. Jason Peters and Lane Johnson have tough assignments with Dee Ford, a left-side linebacker who had 10 sacks a season ago, and Justin Houston, who has 62 career quarterback sacks, including two last week of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who rarely takes hits.

For the Chiefs, offensive tackle Eric Fisher will primarily work against Vinny Curry, and it’s OT Mitchell Schwartz who draws Brandon Graham.

Crowd noise will be a factor, and so we get to watch the Eagles run their “shut-up! offense”, something which didn’t always work out so well last year. The Birds will often have to go with the silent count on offense and rely on hand signals and timing to get off the snap in sync.

Safety Malcolm Jenkins will have his hands full. He’s got to keep an EYE on not only TE Travis Kelce but also that rookie phenom running back Kareem Hunt lining up all over the place.

Then there’s the matter of not only getting defensive pressure on pesky QB Alex Smith, but also containing him and keeping him from extending plays with his legs. People who label Smith as a “game manager” are missing the fact that he is a really good athlete who can scramble with the best of them.

We also get to see our old buddy Bennie Logan in action at defensive tackle—against us. He had a nice debut last week. He was in on a pair of fourth-and-1 stops that changed the New England game’s tone. He’s missed practice time this week with a slight knee injury but worked out on Thursday.

One player may turn out to be the Mystery Man in this game and an unexpected matchup problem for the Eagles. According to the Sports Exchange writers at UPI.com, he is 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.”

So we’ve got matchups on top of matchups in this one. If we can just stay one step ahead of them for the most part and win a few man-to-man battles along the way, we’re going to be right in this thing at the end.

Pardon my green-colored glasses, but I’ve got the Eagles covering the spread and winning the game, 24-20.

 

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