Super Bowl LVII is finally upon us! After 22 weeks of buildup, it’s time to play the final game. The Eagles and Chiefs enter a matchup of No. 1 seeds, and the point spread indicates that we should be in for a close game.
Heading into the playoffs, our panel of eight writers and editors were spread as evenly as ever, with seven teams picked to reach Glendale, Ariz., and six picked as champions.
We remain split, as four picks have come in for the Eagles and four have come in for the Chiefs. Below we’ll give you everyone’s pick for the winner, score, MVP and a bonus bold prediction.
Here are our pickers:
Albert Breer, senior NFL reporter
Conor Orr, senior writer
Greg Bishop, senior writer
Michael Rosenberg, senior writer
Andrew Brandt, business of football columnist
John Pluym, managing editor
Gary Gramling, senior editor
Mitch Goldich, editor
Super Bowl: Chiefs 27, Eagles 24
MVP: Patrick Mahomes
In his last act as 49ers defensive coordinator, DeMeco Ryans left the bones for a Super Bowl game plan out there for Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo. He crowded the line. He sent simulated pressure. And through one half of the NFC championship game, he held the Eagles to fewer than four yards per carry and, outside of DeVonta Smith’s circus catch on fourth-and-3, a whole lot of nothing in the passing game. Eventually, the weight of carrying an offense hobbled by quarterback injuries broke Ryans’s unit. But that doesn’t mean his plan didn’t work. And the Chiefs’ defense, while not as good as the Niners’, won’t have as much asked of it, with Patrick Mahomes running the show on the other side of the ball. So put me down for a dogfight of a game, with Kansas City’s force-of-nature at quarterback, as usual, being the difference maker.
Bold prediction: Someone other than Travis Kelce will lead the Chiefs in receiving yards. The Eagles have been really good against tight ends all year—only three have gone over 50 yards on them (the Titans’ Chigoziem Okonkwo, Saints’ Juwan Johnson, Steelers’ Pat Freiermuth), none have topped 70 yards, and Philly just held 49ers All-Pro George Kittle to three catches and 32 yards (though that has a bit of an asterisk, because of the Niners’ QB situation). So I trust Jonathan Gannon to have a plan to take out Kelce with the back end of his defense, and make Mahomes look elsewhere for answers in critical situations.
Super Bowl: Eagles 31, Chiefs 30
MVP: Boston Scott
I think the Eagles are going to be able to manipulate and contain Chris Jones better than the Bengals did. Thus, I think the Eagles are going to be able to run their offense without much of an issue. And if the Eagles are able to run their offense without much of an issue, I think they are going to score a boatload of points. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem for Mahomes, but I think his need to pass early in the game and the Eagles’ speed on defense will force him into some less-than-perfect football. Ultimately, this game, like the Chiefs’ last appearance in the Super Bowl, will come down to an ability to handle rushers from multiple locations. Against the Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV, Mahomes was helpless without the aid of any ancillary blockers or extra tight ends. Will that be the same fatal flaw in Kansas City’s game plan, or will we see a more whole Chiefs offense that is balanced formationally and doesn’t require Mahomes to move as much on his injured ankle?
Bold prediction: I already made 13 bold predictions, and you should read them first! But if I had to scrape the contents of my brain for one final bold prediction, I would say this: Jerick McKinnon, a former quarterback at Georgia Southern (who has a cannon, by the way), will at some point throw a pass in this game. It would make some sense if, for example, Mahomes was hobbled and the Chiefs could run a little bit of an academy-style option to throw the Eagles’ defense off course. I don’t know when it’s going to happen and I don’t know why, but I do know that McKinnon won’t miss when he gets his shot. The Philly Special was so yesterday, anyway.
Super Bowl: Eagles 24, Chiefs 21
MVP: Jalen Hurts
Look, the Eagles are a lot like their budding superstar of a quarterback. They’re doubted, doubted and doubted some more. But when Hurts has been healthy, they’ve just rolled people up, almost without exception. Philadelphia has a complete team. They Eagles are great on offense, even better on defense and exhibit few, if any, weaknesses on special teams. They’ve proved over the course of the season that they can beat teams in different ways. They’ve won with offensive explosions, defensive clamp-downs and special teams star turns. They’ve even won in different ways just on offense: with Hurts running a ton, with efficient passing, with doing just enough to get by. Mahomes remains the single greatest wild card in pro football. He could lift the Chiefs, with their own stars and a complete roster, to victory. But I just keep thinking back to the conference championships. Philadelphia blew out a very good San Francisco team. Kansas City narrowly defeated a very good Cincinnati team. That all lines up with an Eagles triumph for me.
Bold prediction: The Eagles’ defense will limit the Chiefs’ vaunted, excellent, dangerous offense to fewer than 250 yards.
Super Bowl: Chiefs 27, Eagles 23
MVP: Patrick Mahomes
So the Chiefs are headed to the Super Bowl against a team with a deeper roster, led by a nasty defense and an excellent young coach. Sounds like the Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl in 2019 to me! If we were drafting players from each team, we would probably draft 20 Eagles before we got to 20 Chiefs. But that isn’t how this works. I have extreme faith in Mahomes, especially after he will get two more weeks to rest his ankle. I also have extreme faith in Andy Reid, who is probably—this isn’t hyperbole—the best coach in NFL history with two weeks to prepare. The previous four seasons in the Mahomes era have finished like this: two overtime losses in the AFC championship game, one Super Bowl win, one Super Bowl loss when Kansas City’s offensive line was decimated and overmatched. These guys are a damn tough out.
Bold prediction: A.J. Brown will lose it on the sideline, and Philly sports radio will have its go-to topic for the rest of the calendar year. Brown, who averaged 88 receiving yards per game, has 50 yards—total—in two playoff games. Chiefs rookies Trent McDuffie and Jaylen Watson have been playing well. Jalen Hurts is an excellent deep-ball thrower, but Kansas City is more vulnerable to short- and medium-range passes. Brown has already expressed his frustration at times, but it will be magnified when he does it in the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl: Eagles 34, Chiefs 17
MVP: Jalen Hurts
I have been a broken record since September: It is the Eagles’ year; we are all just living in it. Their dominance on the offensive line is something that has been talked about, although I am not sure if people understand how historically good the unit is. And, oh, by the way, the defensive line has more sacks than all but one or two teams in the history of the sport. The inside-out building of this team will be on full display Sunday. The Eagles will pass (and sack Mahomes) in the first half to get the lead, but then they will run, run and run some more in the second half to hold and build the lead. They will continue one of the most—if not the most—lopsided playoff runs in history after trouncing an overmatched Giants team and a 49ers team without a quarterback (thanks to the Eagles’ defensive line). Hurts will get the MVP by default; it really should go to the offensive line, but that would be too far outside the box for old-line MVP voters. As has happened in so many Eagles games this year, it may not be pretty and it may not be close, but it will be decisive.
Bold prediction: In line with my game prediction, I predict that four—count them, four (4)—Eagles will have more rushing yards than any Chief. Those four will be Miles Sanders, Scott, Kenneth Gainwell and Hurts. This rushing attack is not as sexy or pretty as the Chiefs’ passing attack, but it will prove much more effective.
Super Bowl: Chiefs 27, Eagles 24
MVP: Patrick Mahomes
This is Mahomes’s moment. It could also be the time where a now-retired Tom Brady passes the Super Bowl baton to Mahomes for the next 10 to 12 years. Brady was and will always be the biggest clutch player in Super Bowl history. But now Mahomes could become the toughest player in the game’s history, playing with a high ankle sprain. As the MVP of the league, I expect Mahomes to get the ball out quickly to avoid pressure from the Eagles. It’s going to be a dink-and-dunk game for Mahomes, who has shown all season he’s more than capable of taking what the defense gives him and not forcing the ball down the field.
Bold prediction: I bombed out picking the 49ers and Bengals to go to the Super Bowl, so I have nothing to lose if I bomb out on this. So here goes: Travis Kelce will catch 12 passes for more than 150 yards, including the game-winning score with less than two minutes to go in the game, giving Andy Reid revenge over his former team.
Super Bowl: Chiefs 34, Eagles 31
MVP: Patrick Mahomes
If this game were played in October, you’d call it a coin flip. Since it’s not October—by the way, take the rotting jack-o’-lanterns off your porch, you animal!—and the teams had two weeks to prepare, I’ll give a slight edge to the Andy Reid staff, since we’ve seen what he and they and their players can do to opponents with that extra prep time. Which isn’t to say the Eagles’ staff can’t do the same; they had the 49ers’ linebackers in an absolute blender and got Haason Reddick two clean shots on then healthy quarterbacks last round. But both offenses should be able to do what they want. Mahomes had two weeks to heal, and what, they’re gonna start throwing flags on that offensive line now? He’ll have time and space to do his thing. And if Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw had those kinds of issues finding the ball against the Eagles’ run game, I fear for Nick Bolton & Co. I think Sunday will bring a lot of sustained drives and a back-and-forth affair, and it will probably turn on whichever team is the beneficiary of some weird, fluky turnover.
Bold prediction: A record 83 penalty flags will be thrown during the game—including 17 false-start penalties on Lane Johnson—turning Super Bowl LVII into an interminable slog. With the game still scoreless midway through the fourth quarter and—thanks to referee Carl Cheffers’s uncharacteristically lengthy conferences and explanations—the clock hitting 2 a.m. on the East Coast, both teams agree to call it a night. As the players leave the field, Cheffers removes his mask and reveals that there is no Carl Chaffers—the official you’ve all come to know and love is actually Ira Kelce, the long-, long-lost third Kelce brother, and he’s spent decades climbing the officiating ranks as part of his plot to one-up his famous brothers. But then he pulls off another mask revealing he’s actually Shawn Hochuli, which makes much more sense because this game is pretty much par for the course for a Hochuli crew. A confused audience never gets closure as to whether the game will be resumed or replayed (or on the question of how Hochuli and Cheffers worked different games in different cities over the years), as Fox ends its broadcast and starts the premiere episode of Gordon Ramsay’s new show, in which he critiques and berates ... uh ... let’s say, HVAC repairmen.
Super Bowl: Eagles 30, Chiefs 26
MVP: Jalen Hurts
My bracket from before wild-card weekend is in good shape, as I was the only person on this panel to correctly envision the two top seeds waltzing into the Super Bowl. It’s fine; none of them will scroll down this far to see that I’m making fun of them. Pretty much everything I wrote in January has turned out to be true … but I am now flip-flopping! At the time, I was worried about the Eagles being banged up. Now they look like the healthier team heading into the Super Bowl, even if Mahomes has had two weeks to rest that ankle. I am picking the Eagles for all the reasons you would expect after reading two weeks of wall-to-wall Super Bowl coverage. The full complement of starters, the adaptable offense that can win with the run or pass, the ferocious pass rush and excellent corners. I think this is where the injuries to the QB, receivers and secondary will catch up to the Chiefs. I don’t think it’ll be easy for Philly’s offense all day, but a short field off a turnover will help lead to seven of the 30 points. Brown will have a big day, and people will argue he deserves the MVP award, but they’ll give it to Hurts because that usually feels like the right thing to do.
Bold prediction: All right, I’m calling my shot. Put me down for a Super Bowl octopus. This is a bigger homer pick than saying the team from my hometown will win the game, but let the record show I have never predicted a Super Bowl octopus until this year. I am not the boy who cried octopus every February. To back up: The octopus is the stat I invented, coining the phrase for when a player scores a touchdown and then immediately scores the ensuing two-point conversion. It has gained enough of an internet following that people who are not me also discuss it online, and a growing number of sportsbooks have offered it as a prop bet for the Super Bowl for the last four seasons. This is the year I’m calling it. Both starting QBs had one this very regular season! Travis Kelce could do it on any given drive. McKinnon had one for the Vikings in 2017. This is the year the bets cash, and, yes, I’d be willing to come on your podcast to talk about it.