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Why Eagles Are More Likely Than Chiefs to Return to Super Bowl

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) drops back to pass against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium in Glendale on Feb. 12, 2023. Nfl Super Bowl Lvii Kansas City Chiefs Vs Philadelphia Eagles

It’s been 30 years since the same two teams met in back-to-back Super Bowls. The Dallas Cowboys beat the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII. Heading into the 2023 season, the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles — the two defending conference champs — are favored to meet in Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. 

The Eagles are better positioned to return to the Super Bowl than the Chiefs. This belief is based on the quality of competition in their respective conferences, their rosters and the inevitable changes both teams have navigated through the offseason and training camp. 

Why Eagles WILL Repeat as NFC Champion

Personnel Changes

Philadelphia lost seven starters from last year’s team. Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave was the most significant loss after he signed with the San Francisco 49ers in free agency. But Hargrave’s production (11 sacks and 60 tackles) should be covered by the combined efforts of first-round picks from the last two years — Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter.

Running back Miles Sanders made the Pro Bowl, still his 1,269 rushing yards can be replaced by a strong group of backs. The Eagles return Kenneth Gainwell (who was the Eagles' leading receiving back with 169 yards) and added ex-Detroit Lions back D’Andre Swift and ex-Seattle Seahawks runner Rashaad Penny (a former first-round pick).

They also lost a pair of good linebackers, who left in free agency due to cap constraints — T. J. Edwards to the Chicago Bears and Kyzir White to the Arizona Cardinals. They are replaceable players in the Philadelphia defense led by the pass rushers and corners.  

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman worked his usual salary cap magic with voidable deals to re-sign many of the team’s top players and team leaders. That included center Jason Kelce, cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry and defensive linemen Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham.

Another area to watch on defense is safety, where two good players in C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps, left in free agency. Their replacements are former Pittsburgh Steelers first-rounder Terrell Edmunds and second-year man Reed Blankenship. Third-round pick Sydney Brown also could make a push for playing time.

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Roster Outlook

The Eagles ranked third in total offense last season. The offensive line was a strength and has all the starters back except right guard Isaac Seumalo, with 2022 second-rounder Cam Jurgens expected to replace him capably. 

Philadelphia has the best quarterback in the NFC in Jalen Hurts. He was a Second-team All-Pro and finished second in MVP voting to Patrick Mahomes last season. Hurts can play without concern over his contract after signing a five-year, $255 million extension following a season in which he went 16-2 as the starter. That included two playoff wins before playing terrific (374 total yards, three rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown) in the three-point loss to Mahomes and the Chiefs in the Super Bowl.

The Eagles also added a late first-round edge rusher in Nolan Smith to augment the league’s best pass-rushing corps (70 sacks in 2022) led by Haason Reddick, who is coming off a 16-sack season. 

Further aiding the Eagles' cause for another Super Bowl run is the relative weakness of the NFC compared to what the Chiefs face in the AFC. There are two solid challengers for Philadelphia — the 49ers and the Cowboys — who both won games in the 2022 postseason. Four more teams are possible contenders, but realistically, they’re long shots to win the NFC — the New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Seahawks (all playoff teams last season) and the Detroit Lions. The lowly NFC South has no teams that can be considered threats.  


The Eagles should be rolling and could be unbeaten through a manageable first half of the season. Then comes a rough six-game stretch when they host the Cowboys in Week 9, travel to Kansas City in Week 11 (following a bye week), are home against the Bills and 49ers in Weeks 12 and 13 and are at Dallas and Seattle in Weeks 14 and 15. 

It shouldn't be an issue that Coach Nick Sirianni has new offensive and defensive coordinators in highly regarded Brian Johnson and Sean Desai who are replacing Shane Steichen and Jonathan Gannon who left for head coaching gigs in Indianapolis and Arizona, respectively.

I foresee a second straight 14-3 regular season, which should ensure the top NFC seed and the road to the Super Bowl going through raucous Lincoln Financial Field. If that happens, expect another NFC title and a second Lombardi Trophy to the City of Brotherly Love (except when it comes to visiting teams).   

Why Chiefs WON'T Repeat as AFC Champions

Quality Competition

Following up on the theme of the quality of competition within the conference, it’s clear the AFC is more loaded with serious contenders than the NFC. That makes the Chiefs’ task to repeat greater than the Eagles'.

Three AFC teams are solid challengers for Kansas City: the Bills, Baltimore Ravens and most notably the Cincinnati Bengals. If their outstanding quarterback Joe Burrow stays healthy, they are my pick to win the AFC. 

The Chiefs narrowly prevailed over the Bengals 23-20 in last season's AFC title game, thanks in large part to an unnecessary roughness penalty on Joseph Ossai in the closing seconds. Ossai shoved Mahomes out-of-bounds, setting up the winning field goal.

Prior to that game, the Bengals beat the Chiefs in their three previous meetings, including the 2021 AFC Championship. Cincinnati has an excellent offense led by Burrow and the league’s best wide receiver corps, including Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. On top of that, the Bengals have an underrated defense to back up their explosive offensive firepower. 

Beyond the Bengals, Bills and Ravens, the AFC has four more possible contenders including three 2022 playoff teams in the Los Angeles Chargers, Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars (who played the Chiefs tough in a seven-point divisional playoff loss). The New York Jets could also be a contender if Aaron Rodgers returns to his MVP-caliber play to go along with a potential top-five defense. 

Patrick Mahomes All-Time Great

Offseason Losses

The Chiefs’ free agent losses were more significant than the Eagles', starting with Mahomes’ blind-side protector, four-time Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Brown. The Chiefs signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive lineman Donovan Smith to play left tackle but his talent level is far below Brown, who further strengthens Burrow’s protection as the Bengals’ left tackle. Jawaan Taylor is an upgrade at right tackle over Andrew Wylie to help the offensive line. 

Mahomes is missing his leading wide receiver from last season as JuJu Smith-Schuster (78 catches, 933 yards, three touchdowns) is now in New England. The Chiefs also lost Mecole Hardman to the Jets after he had 25 receptions for 297 yards and four touchdowns in eight games. Coach Andy Reid hopes a group of highly drafted but unproven receivers — Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney and Rashee Rice — can combine with vets Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Richie James to keep their passing game rolling with All-Pros Mahomes and Travis Kelce, the league’s best tight end.

Another big concern is the defense, especially the pass rush which ranked second to the Eagles last season with 55 sacks. First-Team All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones (15.5 sacks in 2022) is holding out and threatening to not show up until mid-season. His replacement is projected to be Tershawn Wharton, a fourth-year undrafted player with two career starts who is coming off an ACL injury.

Another top edge rusher — Frank Clark (7.5 sacks last season including 2.5 in the postseason) — is now in Denver. Charles Omenihu was signed to replace Clark but he has only 11.5 sacks over five seasons and is suspended for the first six games after violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. First-round defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah will need to make an impact as a rotational player in his rookie year because he’s not yet listed as a starter. 


If Jones’ holdout lingers through Week 8 (on top of Clark’s exit), it could expose some young players in the back seven on defense such as last year’s second-round pick Bryan Cook. Cook starts at safety in place of solid veteran Juan Thornhill, who signed with Cleveland. This could cost the Chiefs in the race for AFC home-field advantage as they have challenging early-season road games in Week 2 at Jacksonville, Week 4 at the Jets and Week 5 at Minnesota along with a key divisional game at home against the Chargers in Week 7. In Week 9, Kansas City faces the Dolphins in Frankfurt, Germany, followed by a bye before hosting the Eagles. Will Jones be up to full capacity by then? 

There’s a decent chance the New Year’s Eve matchup at home against the Bengals will determine the AFC’s top seed. The league’s best player, Mahomes, should lead the team to their eighth straight AFC West title but the Chiefs will fall short of an opportunity to be the first repeat Super Bowl champion since the Patriots in the 2003 and 2004 seasons. 

Jeff Diamond is a former Vikings GM, former Tennessee Titans President and was selected NFL Executive of the Year after the Vikings’ 15-1 season in 1998. He now works for the NFL agent group IFA based in Minneapolis. Follow him on Twitter at @jeffdiamondnfl.