A Too-Early Look at the Super Bowl Matchup

The Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles will meet next month in Super Bowl LVII, a game that will pit Andy Reid against his former team and that will feature two Black starting quarterbacks for the first time in Super Bowl history.

This will be Patrick Mahomes’s third Super Bowl appearance in his five seasons as Kansas City’s starter, while Jalen Hurts has led the Eagles to the Super Bowl in his second full season as the starting quarterback.

The teams will play on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Ariz., and both quarterbacks will need to use the time before the game to recover from lingering injuries.

Mahomes sprained his right ankle on Jan. 21 in Kansas City’s divisional-round win against the Jacksonville Jaguars. While he passed for 326 yards in Sunday’s 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in the A.F.C. championship, and he nimbly scrambled for a first down on the play that set up the game-winning field goal, Mahomes was clearly playing through pain and limped at times throughout the game.

Hurts, a right-handed quarterback, sprained his throwing shoulder in December and missed two regular-season games. He returned for the Eagles’ regular-season finale and both their postseason games but has said his shoulder is not 100 percent healthy.

Each team entered the postseason as the No. 1 seed in its respective conference, but they advanced to the Super Bowl under very different circumstances.

The Eagles were in control for most of their 31-7 win against the San Francisco 49ers, after both the starter Brock Purdy and his backup Josh Johnson — the team’s third and fourth quarterbacks this season — were injured.

Kansas City’s game against the Bengals, on the other hand, came down to the final seconds. On the final drive, a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty was called against the Bengals on Mahomes’s 5-yard scramble for a first down, which put Kansas City in position to kick a 45-yard game-winning field goal with three seconds left.

The Super Bowl matchup between Kansas City and Philadelphia should pit a pass-heavy juggernaut against the ground-bound Eagles. Mahomes led the league in passing this season, accruing more than 5,000 yards in the air during the regular season. Against the 49ers, both Hurts and the Eagles set records for rushing touchdowns this season: 15 for Hurts and 39 for the team.

The last time Kansas City and Philadelphia played each other, in October 2021, Mahomes threw five touchdown passes in a 42-30 victory.

Beyond the quarterbacks, a major story line over the next two weeks will be Reid facing the team he led for 14 years. In the early 2000s, Reid took the Eagles to four straight N.F.C. championship games, and one Super Bowl appearance, a loss to the New England Patriots, before the team decided not to bring him back for the 2013 season.

Reid accepted the Kansas City job days later, and won his first Super Bowl in the 2019 season, against the 49ers. He took Kansas City back to the Super Bowl in the 2020 season, but the team lost to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Like Kansas City, the Eagles have also recently been to the Super Bowl. But while there are a handful of veteran players still on the roster from the team that won in the 2017 season, the Eagles are returning to the big game with a different head coach, Nick Sirianni, and a different quarterback, Hurts.

The Kelce brothers — Jason, the Philadelphia center, and Travis, the Kansas City tight end — will become the first set of brothers to play against each other in the Super Bowl.

The last two Super Bowls played in the Phoenix area were two of the most thrilling games in recent history: the Giants’ win against the previously undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, and the Patriots’ victory against the Seattle Seahawks off Malcolm Butler’s goal-line interception in Super Bowl XLIX.

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