By MARK LORENZANA
The Kansas City Chiefs will face the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Feb. 12, at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, for the much-anticipated Super Bowl LVII.
Considered the home team for this year’s Super Bowl, Philadelphia entered the National Football Conference (NFC) playoffs as the slight favorites, and for good reason — it made quick work of its NFC East rival, the New York Giants, winning 38-7. And then in the NFC finals, it was a walk in the park again for the Eagles, as they bagged the NFC Championship against the outgunned San Francisco 49ers, to advance to the Super Bowl.
Kansas City likewise entered the American Football Conference (AFC) playoffs as the No. 1 seed, but had a tougher time against its opponents: The Chiefs prevailed over the Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-20, in a tightly contested game, which saw Kansas City’s superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes suffer a high ankle sprain. In the AFC Championship game, Kansas City faced off against the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Chiefs won courtesy of a 45-yard field goal from kicker Harrison Butker, sending Kansas City to the Super Bowl with a narrow 23-20 victory.
While Mahomes was able to play in the AFC Championship game against the Bengals, there was concern about his ankle going into Sunday’s Super Bowl match. The Chiefs quarterback, however, dismissed any concerns about him not suiting up for his third Super Bowl.
“I dont think so,” Mahomes said, when asked if he suffered any setback on his recovering ankle. “I was just generally sore from the game. It was a physical game. I mean, my whole body was a little sore. So, I don’t think I had any steps backward or anything like that. No reaggravation of the ankle. Just the general little bit of pain I had playing with it, but other than that, I feel like I’m in a good spot.”
Mahomes being 100 percent healthy going into Sunday’s game is certainly a big plus for Kansas City, which is a slight underdog against the Eagles, according to an ESPN report. According to the same report, this is the first time in the Mahomes era that the Chiefs are underdogs in a playoff game. After a 50-year drought, the Chiefs won the 2019 Super Bowl, defeating the 49ers, with Mahomes taking home Super Bowl LIV MVP honors.
Needless to say, drafting Mahomes was one of the best decisions in Kansas City’s franchise history. Mahomes, a former Texas Tech standout, reportedly impressed Chiefs head coach Andy Reid in a pre-draft workout, that Kansas City did everything to get their prized quarterback as the 10th overall pick in the 2017 National Football League (NFL) Draft.
But while Chiefs’ decision to draft Mahomes in 2017 was met with widespread approval from fans, the Eagles picking quarterback Jalen Hurts in the second round was met with backlash, considering that the team already had Carson Wentz — who had signed a four-year contract extension with Philadelphia to the tune of $128 million 10 months prior.
“My first year here, people probably didn’t even want me drafted here. It was probably one of those things. But it always handles itself,” Hurts told the media after the Eagles’ win over the 49ers. “It was a big surprise to many. My favorite Bible verse, I went through a lot of stuff in college and it kind of stuck with me, John 13:7: ‘You may not know now but later you’ll understand.’ Hopefully people understand.”
Philadelphia’s front office admitted as much that they had intended for Hurts to be a backup. But when Wentz, the Eagles’ starting quarterback, struggled in 2020, he was benched and then eventually traded to the Indianapolis Colts in the offseason.
That paved the way for Hurts to get the starting job, and he didn’t disappoint. He immediately took the Eagles to the playoffs in his first year as a full-time starter in 2021, and followed up that performance with elite play this season, helping Philadelphia grab a 14-3 regular-season record and, eventually, a spot in Sunday’s Super Bowl.
Hurts is a finalist for Associated Press NFL MVP, Offensive Player of the Year and tied a franchise record with 33 total touchdowns.
“We want to go out there and play to our standard,” Hurts said, talking about his first-ever Super Bowl appearance, which will undoubtedly be the biggest stage he will be playing in so far in his young career. “That doesn’t change, regardless of the magnitude of the game.”
And while Super Bowl LVII is shaping up to be an exciting game football-wise, what with a pair of young, dynamic and exciting quarterbacks anchoring their teams’ respective offenses, the festivities, of course, don’t end there.
Rihanna — a nine-time Grammy Award winner and the second-best-selling female musician of all time — will perform at the halftime show, with the NFL deciding to go the singular-artist route after five different performers headlined last year’s Super Bowl halftime show.
Country superstar Chris Stapleton will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the game.
And then there are the equally anticipated Super Bowl ads, with Pepsi, Michelob, Budweiser and, of course, the NFL — among others — putting together teaser trailers for their ads to run on Sunday.