Week 3: Eagles-Chiefs matchup analysis

Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET, at Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia - TV: NFL Network
*TV announcers: Brad Nessler, Mike Mayock, Alex Flanagan
*Keys to the game: Chiefs coach Andy Reid makes his return to Philadelphia praising the season Eagles QB Michael Vick is having while extremely pleased with his own quarterback play. Alex Smith has a very good mastery of the West Coast-style offense and is doing what he does best - protecting the football. Smith is averaging just 5.7 yards per pass attempt, but has yet to throw an interception and has added 82 rushing yards through two games. RB Jamaal Charles is averaging 16 carries per game - typical for a Reid offense - but is K.C.'s leading receiver with 11 catches. The Chiefs should be able to methodically move the ball, although Smith may push the ball downfield more often considering the significant struggles the Eagles' rotation of safeties has shown in coverage. Philadelphia will ratchet up the pressure with its up-tempo offense and test K.C.'s conditioning with a road game on a short week. Vick has also avoided turnovers and is sporting a 119 passer rating, although he continues to absorb too much punishment and receivers other than DeSean Jackson must get more involved.
*Matchup to watch - Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers vs. Jackson: Jackson has been targeted 24 times - 14 more than any other Eagles receiver. He has a league-high 297 receiving yards on 16 catches, five of which have gone for 25-plus yards. Flowers is the Chiefs' top cover corner, but he also is recovering from a strained right knee suffered last Sunday. He'll likely get significant help from SS Eric Berry in containing Jackson over the top.
*Player spotlight - Chiefs NT Dontari Poe: The second-year player manhandled Cowboys rookie C Travis Frederick last week. At 6-3, 346 pounds, Poe is a freakish athlete who possesses excellent quickness off the snap. Eagles C Travis Kelce is questionable with a thumb injury. While he's quick, Kelce gives up 50 pounds to Poe. Fifty.
*Fast facts: Reid spent the previous 14 years as Philadelphia's head coach. ... The Eagles have only one dropped pass through two games. ... K.C. is 5-for-5 scoring touchdowns on drives inside the red zone this season.
This game could have a tortoise and the hare feeling with the Eagles racing up and down the field while the Chiefs methodically move the chains, akin to the approach the Chargers used to win on the same field last week. In the end, like most NFL games, it will come down to red zone production. Slight edge to Eagles with Chiefs traveling on a short week to cope with a frenetic offensive pace.
*Our pick: Eagles 24-23

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