Last week on Marks and Reese, we got a brief respite from the likes of Chuck from Mount Airy and O.G. Wade to have Brian Baldinger (an actual football expert) on the program, and Baldy more or less summed up the key to the Eagles winning Super Bowl 57 –

They’re better in the trenches. On both sides of the ball. 

This is the key to the game. You can argue that the Chiefs, if/when fully healthy, have the advantage at quarterback and tight end and have the offensive weapons to match the Birds. They have the more experienced head coach. But when you look at their offensive and defensive lines, it’s the one clear area where Philly has the edge.

For starters, the Birds’ entire O-line was either named to the Pro Bowl or listed as a Pro Bowl alternate. That’s Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, and Landon Dickerson in the former category and then Isaac Seumalo and Jordan Mailata in the latter. KC’s O-line is fantastic as well though, with Joe Thuney (G), Creed Humphrey (C), and Orlando Brown (T) getting the nod with Trey Smith (G) named an alternate. The only starter on both lines to not get any kind of Pro Bowl mention is right tackle Andrew Wylie, who is seen as a weak point:

This is a Chiefs offensive line that allowed 86 QB hits this year (18th most), 139 pressures (15th), 56 QB knockdowns (13th), and 58 hurries (2nd most). The Eagles ranked 30th, 24th, 30th, and 13th in those categories, respectively, so they just did a better job holding up against opposing pass rushes. KC ultimately did not allow a ton of sacks, which is probably a credit to Patrick Mahomes getting rid of the ball and just having fantastic vision and presence in the pocket, but ultimately he was under more duress than Jalen Hurts.

(stats via Sport Radar)

On the defensive side of the ball, let’s start with the caveat that the Chiefs played the better quarterbacks all season long. They had to beat Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence in the playoffs, plus Justin Herbert (2x) in the regular season along with Josh Allen, Tom Brady, Burrow again, Lawrence again, Geno Smith, Derek Carr, Jimmy G, and Russell Wilson in a down year. Their path was just measurably harder than the Eagles’ path.

That being said, they’ve got 4x Pro Bowler and bona fide stud Chris Jones at defensive tackle, plus defensive end Frank Clark as a Pro Bowl alternate. Rookie George Karlaftis had six sacks and 33-year-old veteran Carlos Dunlap played all 17 games. It’s a solid unit, but it’s not as good as the Eagles’ defensive line, which has Pro Bowl player Haason Reddick and then four alternates in Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Brandon Graham, and Josh Sweat. The Birds just have more depth and overall talent in that unit.

Statistically, both units were phenomenal at reaching the QB. The Birds were, of course, #1 in the NFL with 70 sacks, but the Chiefs were #2 with 55. The Eagles were #1 with 97 tackles for loss, while the Chiefs were sixth with 89, and while DBs and linebackers contribute to this stat, line play is more of a factor. KC was #3 in the league with 59 hurries and Philly was tied for 10th with 48, while both teams were top-four in QB hits (124 for the Eagles, 118 for the Chiefs). Add it all up, and you get a 25.6 defensive pressure percentage for the Eagles (#1), and 23.6 number for the Chiefs, which is 8th. That’s a combo stat of passing plays where a sack, hurry, or knock down was recorded.

In truth, both defensive lines are really good. We’re talking top NFL units all season long, right up there with the Niners and Cowboys. The difference is that the Eagles have studs everywhere, and depth to boot, while the Chiefs’ unit is a little more top heavy. They’re both going up against quarterbacks in this game who are smart in vacating the pocket and extending plays. Mahomes has sneaky-good mobility, which might be limited depending on how his ankle heals over the next two weeks.

But the bottom line is that the Eagles have the advantage on both lines. They’ve got more Pro Bowl players, there’s no experience gap, and the offensive line held up relatively well against San Francisco, Dallas (2x), Jacksonville, Washington (2x), and only really had the clunker against NOLA with Gardner Minshew under center. Those are all top-12 defenses in points allowed, so it’s not like the Birds haven’t been tested on that front this year.

This game will be won or lost based on the line of scrimmage.

EDIT – worth mentioning this as well: