WHEN THE EAGLES RUN THE BALL
The Eagles weren’t very effective on the ground in Week 1. They had just 58 yards on 24 carries vs. Washington. Didn’t have a run longer than 7 yards and averaged just 2.71 yards per carry on first down, which led to a lot of second- and third-and-longs. The Eagles had just one rushing first down vs. the Redskins. The fewest they had in a game last year was five. They signed LeGarrette Blount as a short-yardage and goal-line weapon, but he converted just one of four situations of 3 yards or fewer. Blount had 14 of the Eagles’ 24 carries (for 46 yards). The Eagles’ other two backs, Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles, combined for just six carries, although Sproles had five receptions. The Chiefs allowed 4.4 yards per carry last season (4.4). They held the Patriots to 3.5 yards per carry, but NE had 10 rushing first downs and three rushing TDs. The Chiefs’ loss of safety Eric Berry (torn Achilles) and possible absence of ex-Eagles DT Bennie Logan (knee/quad contusion) weakens them.
WHEN THE EAGLES THROW THE BALL
Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith had relatively quiet Eagles debuts. But their on-field presence impacted the coverage on the Eagles’ other receivers, particularly TE Zach Ertz and slot WR Nelson Agholor, who combined for 14 catches and 179 receiving yards. Agholor, the team’s 2015 first-round pick, had six catches for 86 yards, both career highs. Four of Agholor’s six catches were on third down; he had six third-down catches all last season. Carson Wentz finished 28th in third-down passing as a rookie, but completed nine of 11 third-down passes for 148 yards and two TDs against the Redskins. Chiefs LOLB Justin Houston has missed 16 games with injuries the last two years after putting up a league-best 22 sacks in 2014. But he’s healthy again, as he proved vs. the Patriots (two sacks, four hurries). Berry’s loss impacts the Chiefs’ ability to defend both the run and pass. Daniel Sorensen, the third safety in dime packages last season, will be Berry’s primary replacement. But the talent drop-off is substantial.
WHEN THE CHIEFS RUN THE BALL
Spencer Ware, the Chiefs’ leading ball carrier in 2016, went down with a season-ending knee injury late in the preseason. But they didn’t miss him much in Week 1. Rookie third-round pick Kareem Hunt had a debut for the ages, rushing for 148 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. He finished the day with 246 yards from scrimmage and three TDs. The 5-11, 216-pound Hunt doesn’t have exceptional straight-line speed (4.6 40 time), but has good vision and a knack for making the first man miss. Charcandrick West gives the Chiefs a good short-yardage back with power. They also have veteran C.J. Spiller, who has averaged 4.9 yards per carry in his career. The Eagles were inconsistent against the run last season, giving up 53 rushes of 10 yards or more — fourth most in the league. They did a nice job in Week 1, holding Redskins RBs to 34 yards on 13 carries. The longest run against them by an RB was 6 yards. They held Washington to 3.73 yards per carry on first down.
WHEN THE CHIEFS THROW THE BALL
Over the last six seasons, Alex Smith has been one of the most consistent — and underrated — QBs in the league. Since 2011, he has a 64.7 completion percentage and has thrown 110 touchdown passes and just 38 interceptions. He has the sixth-best career interception percentage among active quarterbacks. He gets the ball out quickly — he had the league’s fastest snap-to-release average last season — and has the mobility to extend plays and move the chains with his feet. In Week 1 vs. the Patriots, he completed 28 of 35 passes for 368 yards and four TDs. Smith has two elite pass-catching weapons in TE Travis Kelce and WR Tyreek Hill. Kelce has caught 224 passes the last three seasons. Hill is a vertical threat whom the Chiefs also use on screens and run plays. Any way to get the ball in his hands. The Eagles lost their best cornerback, Ronald Darby, to a right-ankle injury Sunday. They’re going to need their front four to play at least as well as they did last weekend to ease the pressure on the secondary.
This game pits two of the league’s top special-teams coaches — the Eagles’ Dave Fipp and the Chiefs’ Dave Toub — against one another. Fipp’s units have been ranked No. 1 in the league two of the last three years. But he lost his placekicker, Caleb Sturgis, last week to a hip injury. Sturgis will be replaced by rookie Jake Elliott, who was signed off the Bengals’ practice squad earlier this week. Elliott was the Bengals’ fifth-round draft pick. He was 3-for-6 on FG attempts in the preseason. Both punt-coverage units will face severe tests; the Eagles from the Chiefs’ dangerous PR Tyreek Hill, and the Chiefs from Darren Sproles. Hill led the league in punt-return average last year as a rookie (15.2) and took two back for TDs. Sproles, 34, averaged a career-high 13.2 yards per return last season. Chiefs PK Cairo Santos was slowed by a groin injury in the preseason but appears to be healthy now. He has an 84.3 FG-accuracy rate in his career.
Domo’s prediction: Chiefs 24, Eagles 17
Eagles RT Lane Johnson vs. Chiefs LOLB Justin Houston. Houston, who had a league-high 22 sacks in 2014, had two sacks and four hurries vs. the Patriots. Johnson is one of the best RTs in the league. ADVANTAGE: Even
Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins vs. Chiefs TE Travis Kelce. Kelce has 224 receptions the last three seasons. Jenkins did a nice job on the Redskins’ Jordan Reed last week. ADVANTAGE: Chiefs
Eagles CB Jalen Mills vs. Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill. Mills is fearless, but he doesn’t have the speed to stay with Hill. ADVANTAGE: Chiefs
HOT AND NOT
Eagles: WR Nelson Agholor. Had a career-high six catches, including four on third down, three of which resulted in first downs.
Chiefs: RB Kareem Hunt. Rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown, and caught five passes for 98 yards and two more TDs in his NFL debut.
Eagles: TE Trey Burton. Played just 14 snaps vs. Redskins. Didn’t have a reception.
Chiefs: TE Travis Kelce. Had an uncharacteristically quiet game against the Patriots. Caught five passes for just 40 yards.