Taking to the road for a second consecutive week, the Eagles on Sunday encounter a Kansas City Chiefs team that had the perfect storm of a Week 1 in the NFL: They watched the New England Patriots celebrate winning last year's Super Bowl and then came from behind to destroy the Patriots with a devastating blend of explosive plays on offense and clampdown defense in the second half.
And then they took the weekend off.
None of that matters now. The Eagles go into Kansas City filled with confidence and esprit de corps. It should be a terrific game and an early just-where-do-the-Eagles stand? kind of Sunday.
With that, there are matchups to watch. Here are a few:
1. Speed Of Tyreek Hill Vs. Eagles Secondary
How fast is Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill? He recorded a speed of 22.77 miles per hour returning a kickoff for a touchdown against Denver last season, making him, according to the Chiefs, the fastest player in the NFL.
Now, numbers are one thing. How do the players feel?
"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."
So the Eagles have the task of not allowing Hill to beat them with big plays. Does that mean they lay off him in coverage? Not an ideal strategy, just giving up yardage. Instead, the Eagles want to bracket cover Hill as much as they can, keep giving different looks, getting their hands on him when they can.
But he isn't the only Kansas City weapon, as we will discuss later.
2. Eagles TE Zach Ertz Against Middle Of Kansas City Defense
Here is one of the questions people are asking about the Eagles: Is Zach Ertz ready to have a "breakout" season? He's off to a fine start.
Ertz had eight catches for 93 yards against Washington, doing an excellent job of controlling the middle of the field. Kansas City is playing without star safety Eric Berry, so there has to be a drop in performance with fourth-year player Daniel Sorensen on the field. Sorensen, primarily a special teams player for the Chiefs, has one career start.
The Eagles need to make something happen in the middle of and down the field. They threw the ball vertically against Washington and just missed connecting on a couple of big hitters. Maybe Ertz can get involved that way this week.
3. Edge Vs. Edge At Line Of Scrimmage
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.
Peters has practiced all week after missing the second half of action (he played one snap) in Washington. That's good news. Johnson is ready for another in a season of great tests.
It's not going to be any easier for Chiefs tackles Eric Fisher, who works against Vinny Curry, and Mitchell Schwartz, who draws Brandon Graham. You can bet the Eagles are going to move their pieces around and they're going to bring waves of depth. The idea is to exhaust the offensive line, something that worked so effectively at Washington.
4. Noise Factor: The Crowd Vs. The Eagles' Offense
and Torrey Smith, running back LeGarrette Blount, and left guard Isaac Seumalo).
The Eagles prepare to take on the Chiefs in Week 2. Take a look at some of their key players to watch.
5. S Malcolm Jenkins Vs. Kansas City TE Travis Kelce
In addition to Hill, the Eagles have to contend with running back Kareem Hunt, who according to the NFL's Next Gen Stats, was the fastest player in the NFL last week when he scored three touchdowns in New England. The front seven must win at the line of scrimmage. Hunt adds another dimension for the Chiefs.
Then there's Kelce, the Pro Bowl and All-Pro tight end, who only had 85 receptions and 1,125 receiving yards last season. He's a superb athlete, catches everything, and racks up the YAC (yards after catch). All of a sudden, with Hill, Hunt, and Kelce, the Chiefs have a dangerous trio. How can you cover all three all the time?
Well, Jenkins is going to be heavily involved with, probably, all three players. He did a good job last week minimizing Washington tight end Jordan Reed, who had five catches for 36 yards.
The secondary, minus Ronald Darby, can't make up for that absence of speed. Jenkins is going to be part of the coverage, along with all of the versatile players in the secondary. Jenkins has to make sure he is on point with communication. The entire secondary has to tackle surely, as it did last week.
6. 11 Vs. 11
Carson Wentz against Alex Smith. Two of the highest-performing quarterbacks of Week 1 in the NFL. What's next for both of them?
The Eagles must pressure Smith and keep him in the pocket to avoid him using his legs to extend plays. Same thing for the Chiefs against Wentz. How these two handle the pressure and the different looks from the defenses is critical.
Win the turnover battle and you have a statistical edge in winning the game. Both Wentz and Smith have to make good decisions, take care of the football, and capitalize on opportunities to make plays.
Away we go, into the second week of the season that features a truly fascinating matchup for the Eagles.