Two of the best teams in the NFL are in the prime-time position in Week 11 of this 2023 regular season and the storylines, they are aplenty. There are great matchups all over the field and on the sidelines and in the coach's boxes upstairs – prepare yourself for a great one on Monday Night Football as the Eagles and Chiefs play. Here are some storylines to look forward to as Philadelphia looks to up its record to 9-1 …
1. Solving TE Travis Kelce
This isn't a mystery at all: Tight end Travis Kelce is the biggest part of the Chiefs' passing game and he's a very difficult matchup because of his size, speed, intelligence and everything. The Eagles have seen him three times, most recently in the Super Bowl, and Kelce has been a problem with 18 receptions, 207 yards and 2 touchdowns. So, what do the Eagles do against Kelce, who has 57 receptions, 597 yards and 4 scores this season? They're likely to pay more attention to him, but how that manifests remains to be seen. Having nickel cornerback Bradley Roby available helps a secondary that has battled injuries all season, for sure. Kevin Byard had time during the bye week to catch his breath and integrate just a little bit more into the scheme, and he's had experience and success against Kelce when Byard played for Tennessee.
There are other weapons that Kansas City will utilize, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes will go to all of them – his wide receivers, his running backs, the ground game that offers Mahomes creating with his legs as well. But containing Kelce is right there at the top of the to-do list for the Eagles defense and that task is a very real chore for coordinator Sean Desai.
2. Suddenly, the Kansas City defense is among the league's best
Known for so many years for its offense, Kansas City has a defense that is allowing just 15.9 points per game, tied with San Francisco for best in the NFL. Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is known for pressure, following in the mold of former Eagles defensive coordinator, the late Jim Johnson. The Chiefs will bring pressure and they will create the illusion of pressure. They will drop out defensive linemen into coverage. They will constantly change things up and they will tackle very, very well. The Eagles saw it in the Super Bowl and, really, moved the ball up and down the field, but the difference this year is that the young Kansas City secondary has matured and is playing very well behind a defensive front that brings the heat – Kansas City ranks third in the NFL with 31 quarterback sacks. The matchup of the Eagles offense against this strong defense is fascinating.
3. The weather is an intangible
What can the players and coaches expect with the weather when the ball is kicked off? How about temperatures in the upper 30s, maybe low 40s, and a very good chance of some kind of precipitation? Could be a steady rain. Could be a drizzle. Could be more. We don't know. But we do know that the Eagles have prepared as much as they could during the week for the possibility of rain and wind and coldest temperatures of the season to date that could impact decisions in the kicking game, the passing game, etc. It's just something to watch, one of many intangibles going here.
4. Andy Reid's mastery after the bye week
Including the regular season and the playoffs, Kansas City head coach Andy Reid is 27-4 following a bye week. What that means here, against an Eagles team that is also coming off a bye week and that has a 2-0 record after the bye week with head coach Nick Sirianni, remains to be seen, but you can be sure that both teams will have some wrinkles to introduce on Monday night. They've spent the bye week scouting their first nine games and, while the players had some much-needed rest and refreshing days off, the coaches worked for much of the off week. How do you prepare for Andy Reid? The experience from Super Bowl LVII should help. Let's also understand this: Sirianni has quickly established himself as one of the NFL's premier coaches. He has a strong staff of coaches who are going to be prepared for this stage.
5. Winning in the trenches is such a huge part of this
This is a given, and this is a great matchup. The Eagles saw the Kansas City defensive front in the Super Bowl and they know how interchangeable the pieces are. They know that Chris Jones is one of the premier defensive tackles in the game and that some underrated players along that Kansas City front are productive and active and physical. They know Spagnuolo will blitz and that he will bring players from all over the field to try to disrupt Hurts. The Eagles have shown time and time again that they are up to any challenge from every defensive line.
From a defensive standpoint, the Eagles are playing a Kansas City offensive line that has changed out some pieces at tackle. The interior of the Kansas City offensive line is among the best in the business and that should be a great matchup against an outstanding Philadelphia defensive tackle rotation. Everyone will have their eyes set on the playmakers in this game, but the work at the line of scrimmage is going to be so very important. The Eagles know they have to affect Mahomes, not let him buy time with his legs, be aggressive and yet not give him running lanes. It's a tremendous challenge. Really, that's how Kansas City has to be thinking, too.
6. How do the Eagles replace TE Dallas Goedert's production?
Philadelphia won't have Dallas Goedert, out with a forearm injury. So, how do the Eagles present the offense on Monday night? Jack Stoll is next in line to start at tight end and the Eagles have other options with and around quarterback Jalen Hurts, but is it as simple as bumping up players on the depth chart? The Eagles averaged more than 30 points per game in the five games Goedert missed last season, spreading the football around, using different personnel groupings, and generally picking up the slack everywhere. That's the approach here, and the first glimpse of how the Eagles plan to utilize their personnel comes in a huge game at Kansas City.