NFL Free Agency 2023: Grades for Every Signing, Trade
Report: Brandon Graham Will Stay With NFC Champion Eagles
Put it on the Line: Super Bowl LVII Offensive, Defensive Line Rankings
On Sunday, you can be sure the big boys up front will be putting it all on the line with everything they’ve got. Since there are only two teams left, this space will be a little bit different this week. Yes, I’ll still rank who I think is better on each line. However, I’m going to focus on the matchups between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles’ lines since that is what will matter most for Super Bowl LVII.
Offensive Line Rankings
1. Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 1
LT: Jordan Mailata
LG: Landon Dickerson
C: Jason Kelce
RG: Isaac Seumalo
RT: Lane Johnson
They started the postseason as my top offensive line, and they’re ending it at the top. They’ve been battle-tested by some tough fronts this playoffs (including the previously top-ranked San Francisco 49ers), and they have passed the test, earning the right to play in the big game.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 3
LG: Joe Thuney
RG: Trey Smith
RT: Andrew Wylie
The Chiefs didn’t generate much up front in the running game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but that was OK because they succeeded in their top two objectives: winning the game and keeping Patrick Mahomes from suffering a setback to his injured ankle. In fact, coach Andy Reid said Wednesday that Mahomes hasn’t been limited by injury this week.
Defensive Line Rankings
1. Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 2
Eagles DL: Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Jordan Davis, Ndamukong Suh, Linval Joseph
Eagles Edges: Brandon Graham, Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Robert Quinn
The Eagles’ front has gotten to the quarterback often this year, and that trend continued in the NFC Championship game. Their ability to get to the passer significantly altered the game, resulting in 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey playing some quarterback after Brock Purdy suffered a torn UCL ligament and Josh Johnson suffered a concussion.
The Eagles have a ferocious front, especially when they get to pin those ears back, so they end the postseason in the top spot.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 4
Chiefs DL: Chris Jones, Khalen Saunders, Derrick Nnadi, Brandon Williams
Chiefs Edges: Frank Clark, George Karlaftis, Carlos Dunlap, Mike Danna
A Chiefs front built to play with a lead did exactly that, putting Joe Burrow under pressure consistently throughout the night. Unsurprisingly, Jones led the charge, not only sacking Burrow twice but making his presence felt on numerous occasions. Those were Jones’ first two postseason sacks in his 14th career playoff game.
Matchups to Watch
When the Eagles Have the Ball
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this Eagles offensive front is fast, physical and capable of causing problems for even the best defensive fronts. The Chiefs front’s strength is their pass rush, but they could stand to be a bit more consistent. The Eagles offensive line’s consistency and ability to take over a game give them a clear advantage in this matchup.
Something to watch from the Eagles: I expect Philadelphia to attack the Chiefs on the ground to keep Kansas City’s front guessing and slow down its pass rush, allowing Jalen Hurts more time to take shots downfield. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Eagles run at Jones, putting faith in their combo blocks to get some push while keeping Jones from using his quickness to wreak havoc in pursuit from the backside. In pass protection, I’d expect to see Jason Kelce turn to Jones’ side more often than not.
Something to watch from the Chiefs: You’ve heard it from commentators a lot: Steve Spagnuolo always has something dialed up for big games. I expect this game to be no different. He’ll try to give the Philadelphia’s front some looks they haven’t seen on film before, especially in high-leverage situations. While he’s known for his blitz packages, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kansas City mug up at the line of scrimmage showing blitz and dropping out at the snap. This creates just enough hesitation from the offense to lead to advantageous pass-rush matchups.
When the Chiefs Have the Ball
After a regular season chock-full of sacks, the Eagles’ front displayed their dominance against a quality San Francisco front in the NFC Championship game. The Chiefs’ offensive line, on the other hand, has been inconsistent. While this matchup is a bit closer, Philadelphia has proven it has the depth to keep rotating players without much drop-off. The Eagles’ depth is what helps give them the advantage in this spot.
Something to watch from the Chiefs: While he is a couple of weeks healthier, Mahomes’ health likely isn’t quite what you’d like it to be heading into this game. Andy Reid has had plenty of time to think about how to keep his star quarterback upright against the team that led the league in sacks.
Having watched the NFC Championship video, I highly doubt they will have the hubris to try single-blocking Reddick with a tight end. With that out of the way, there are a number of things I expect them to do to keep Mahomes comfortable. They have a good blocking back in Jerick McKinnon who can help chip, they have speedy receivers who can take jet sweep touch passes, and Travis Kelce is known to rumble on a TE screen from time to time. All of these things help slow the rush down and are things the Chiefs already have shown to have in their bag of tricks. This will help buy enough time for those big downfield shots.
Something to watch from the Eagles: The Eagles would love to see Kansas City drop back to pass, something the Chiefs are often happy to oblige, as it will give their front a chance to get home. They haven’t had to rely on stunts and twists this season, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them utilize a few more stunts on Sunday. Those could muddy up the middle and help neutralize a few of the things the Chiefs might want to do to slow them down.
Those stunts force offensive linemen to move and communicate, and it allows rushers to disappear from any chips while the wrapper pulls around into any middle screens. Containing the outside of the pocket can be an issue with this strategy, but the Eagles have the quickness to get there. While Mahomes wasn’t hesitant to leave the pocket when opportunities were presented against Cincinnati, that little bit of lost escapability from what he normally has is probably enough to make this a viable wrinkle for the Eagles.
The Eagles have the advantage on both fronts so, obviously, they have the overall advantage. Of course, there are other players on the field, and football is the ultimate team sport. That said, the big fellas up front have an outsized impact on the game, and if we’re going to put the game on the lines, the Eagles will fly out of the desert with the Lombardi Trophy.
Maxx Forde is a former CFL and FBS defensive lineman, playing for the BC Lions from 2015-2018 after a standout career at the University of Idaho from 2010-2014 where he was a two-year team captain and three-time Coaches Award winner.
Anything for an Edge: Inside Super Bowl Advance Scouting Reports
Super Bowl LVII Betting: Evaluating Which Eagles, Chiefs Players Can Win MVP
In the first installment of our two-part Super Bowl MVP series, we took a deep dive into the history of the Super Bowl MVP. We did that so we can make more informed bets. Now, we’re going to analyze more than two dozen players with a path to winning this year’s Super Bowl MVP. The lines provided in this column come from BetMGM. If you’re considering a Super Bowl MVP wager, make sure you line shop at multiple sportsbooks for the best odds and promotions.
If you’re considering a bet on a quarterback, 31 quarterbacks (~55%) have won the Super Bowl MVP. The most common paths to a quarterback winning Super Bowl MVP are either high-end production or a late, game-winning drive.
Jalen Hurts +110
Can a dual-threat quarterback with a loaded supporting cast like Jalen Hurts win Super Bowl MVP? He sure can. Should we bet on him to do so at +110 odds? Not only do you have to essentially pick the winning team with that bet, but as we just discussed, quarterbacks win this award 55% of the time. I’d rather bet the Eagles’ money line at -125, considering how many of his teammates have a realistic path to a spike game.
Patrick Mahomes +125
If the Chiefs win the Super Bowl, there’s a high chance Patrick Mahomes is the driving force behind that outcome. That said, I’d rather bet the Chiefs’ money line at +110 than I would on betting Mahomes to be the game’s MVP at +125.
>> READ: Mahomes’ Legacy Nearing All-Time Great QBs
A running back hasn’t won the Super Bowl MVP since Terrell Davis in Super Bowl XXXII (32). That said, exceeding 100 total yards with two or more scores will put a running back right in the mix for this award.
Miles Sanders +3000
Early in the week, Miles Sanders was available at 50:1 odds on FanDuel, which I viewed as an early misprice. Sanders has a realistic path to 100 yards rushing and multiple scores behind the Eagles’ top-five offensive line. I’m not head over heels at 30:1 odds, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to talk you out of that bet, either.
Isiah Pacheco +5000
Isiah Pacheco has been the Chiefs’ primary ball carrier for months, but his usage has been scaled back during his past four games, which includes the playoffs. Pacheco has been a pleasant surprise this season, but he has yet to put up a monster box score. Considering how pass-centric the Chiefs’ offense is, a lot of things would have to bounce Pacheco’s way for him to win the Super Bowl MVP over Mahomes or Travis Kelce.
Jerick McKinnon +5000
Jerick McKinnon went on a touchdown spree down the stretch, scoring nine times during his last six regular season games. Apart from the touchdowns, McKinnon has only breached 100 yards receiving once this season, and he’s only had double-digit carries in two games. McKinnon has only 30 total yards during this year’s playoffs.
If you’re considering a bet on a pass catcher, eight (~14%) wide receivers have won the Super Bowl MVP. No tight end has ever won this award. In most instances where a pass catcher has won this award, they accounted for a large portion of the team’s passing offense while the quarterback has more of an average or worse outing. Further, recent Super Bowls where a wide receiver wins the MVP have gone under their game total.
Travis Kelce +1100
Kelce is the standalone primary pass catcher in Mahomes’ offense, which puts him in a strong position to win the Super Bowl MVP. A tight end has never won this award before, which might actually be an advantage for Kelce if he has a big game and the Chiefs win. That type of outcome offers an opportunity for history to be made, which could be a tiebreaker of sorts for voters.
A.J. Brown +1400
A.J. Brown breached 100 yards receiving in five games this season while scoring multiple touchdowns in two of those matchups. Brown certainly has the spike game potential to win this award. However, my primary concern with betting on the Eagles’ offense in specific ways is they have four, bordering on five, players capable of massive production.
DeVonta Smith +2500
DeVonta Smith also breached 100 yards receiving in five games this season while scoring multiple touchdowns in one of those matchups. Four of those five 100-yard outputs came in the final six regular season games, including two with Gardner Minshew at the controls. Smith has considerable spike game potential, which is why I’d have his MVP odds closer to Brown’s. If I were an oddsmaker, I’d have Smith’s MVP odds in the 18:1 to 20:1 range.
Dallas Goedert +5000
I don’t see Dallas Goedert as an automatic cross-off, but he’d have to outproduce Hurts, Sanders, Brown and Smith to contend for this award. Considering Goedert only had one 100-yard game this season, he has a narrow path to winning Super Bowl MVP.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling +6600
Marquez Valdes-Scantling is coming off his best game of the season, which also happens to be just the second time he breached 100 yards receiving this year. The Eagles’ cornerbacks are among the best in the league, which reduces my already limited enthusiasm in Valdes-Scantling having another spike game.
JuJu Smith-Schuster +6600
JuJu Smith-Schuster breached 100 yards receiving twice this year, in back-to-back October games. Smith-Schuster is currently on the injury report and hasn’t breached 40 yards receiving in any of his last five games, which includes the playoffs.
Quez Watkins +12500
I like Quez Watkins as a player, but he’s seeing limited opportunities, and he’s only exceeded 40 yards receiving in two games this year.
Skyy Moore +15000
A number of Chiefs’ wide receivers are on the injury report, which could lead to another uptick in opportunities for Skyy Moore in the big game. Moore has only exceeded 50 yards receiving in one game this year. He’d need to have the outlier of all outlier performances to win Super Bowl MVP.
Kadarius Toney +15000
When Kadarius Toney is healthy, he’s a difference-making talent that would warrant serious consideration at 150:1 odds. Unfortunately, availability has been a major issue for Toney throughout his two-year career. Toney left the AFC Championship early with an ankle injury.
Defensive linemen have won the Super Bowl MVP three out of 56 times. If you’re considering a bet on one of those options, you’re looking for a decisive victory that’s primarily driven by the winning team’s pass rush. You’re then looking for one player to have multiple sacks and, ideally, at least one forced turnover.
Haason Reddick +3000
Haason Reddick ended up being one of the more impactful signings of last year’s free-agent class. Reddick had 16 sacks, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries during the regular season. He had multiple sacks with at least one forced fumble or fumble recovery in three different games this year.
If Reddick has that kind of performance during an Eagles win in a low-scoring affair, he would have a real shot to win MVP. Not all major sportsbooks have released Super Bowl MVP odds yet. Reddick is on my short list of options I will bet on if I can get him at a better price.
Chris Jones +5000
If you’re going to bet on a Chiefs defender, Chris Jones has the best chance for a game-derailing performance by a considerable margin. Including the playoffs, Jones had five multi-sack games this season, and he’s one of the premier interior defenders in the league.
Brandon Graham +8000
Brandon Graham has been a disruptive force for over a decade, but this season he had a career-best 11 sacks with three multi-sack games. If Graham has a big Super Bowl, he also has a compelling story, as he missed most of the 2021 season with an Achilles injury.
Frank Clark +12500
Frank Clark is a good player that would need an outlier performance against an elite offensive line to put himself in the Super Bowl MVP conversation.
George Karlaftis +15000
George Karlaftis had an encouraging rookie year, and he was among my favorite players in last year’s draft class. Karlaftis had six sacks this season, but he’s still searching for his first multi-sack game.
Josh Sweat +15000
Josh Sweat finished the year with 11 sacks and two multi-sack games. He had another three games with 1.5 sacks. Sweat is a pass rusher capable of spike games, which makes him an interesting super longshot option.
Fletcher Cox +20000
Fletcher Cox is at least a borderline Hall-of-Fame defensive tackle. If he has a big game, he’ll at least be in the conversation.
If you’re considering a bet on a linebacker, only three (~5%) have ever won the Super Bowl MVP. You’re going to need a performance with multiple splash plays (sacks or turnovers) without any offensive player on the winning team having a big game.
Nick Bolton +10000
Nick Bolton is an interesting longshot candidate that finished with the second-most tackles in the league this season. In Week 11 against the Chargers, Bolton had 14 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception. If this contest ends up being low scoring in nature, and Bolton has the kind of box score he had against the Chargers, he could bring home the MVP.
T.J. Edwards +10000
T.J. Edwards has emerged as a rock-solid linebacker for the Eagles during the last two seasons. That said, he didn’t have an interception this season, and he only has two in his four-year career. Betting on Edwards to have a massive spike game against Mahomes’ offense is pretty thin.
If you’re considering a bet on a secondary player, only three (~5%) cornerbacks or safeties have ever won the Super Bowl MVP. You’re going to need multiple turnovers, maybe a score, without any offensive player having a game-breaking performance.
Darius Slay +5000
Darius Slay plays the overwhelming majority of his snaps on the perimeter (~91%). The Chiefs don’t have a perimeter receiver that “needs” the ball for their offense to function, which means they could go out of their way to avoid Slay if they wanted. Slay is an exceptional player, but I’d be surprised if he saw enough opportunities to have a monster game.
James Bradberry +15000
James Bradberry also plays the overwhelming majority of his snaps on the perimeter (~90%). Bradberry is one of the better second corners in the league, but he’s more likely to be tested than Slay. Keep in mind Bradberry has just one multi-interception game in his seven-year career.
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson +15000
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is a versatile player who, in a best-case scenario, has a game with a forced fumble, an interception and close to 10 tackles in his range of outcomes.
Justin Reid +15000
Justin Reid is a good player, but he only has seven interceptions in his five-year career.
L’Jaruis Sneed +15000
L’Jarius Sneed is currently on the injury report after playing only four snaps in the last week. Sneed has eight interceptions in his three-year career.
Trent McDuffie +25000
Trent McDuffie had a good rookie year, but he has yet to record an interception as a pro.
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Maxx Pressure: Breaking Down Four Championship Game Wreckers
Las Vegas Raiders All-Pro defensive end Maxx Crosby highlights four standouts on the defensive line who can wreck the AFC and NFC Championship game plans for the opposing offenses trying to get to Super Bowl LVII. Chris Jones, Trey Hendrickson, Brandon Graham, and Nick Bosa all rank among the best at their positions in the NFL, and Crosby explains how their unique skill sets allow them to be so successful against the league’s best blockers.
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Cam’s Corner: Eagles Teammates Graham, Suh Among Best Sacks of Week 11
Cam Jordan breaks down his favorite sacks of Week 11, what it was like missing just his second career game and previews New Orleans’ matchup against San Francisco.