By Kevin McGuire
The Eagles look to get back in the win column this week in another short week. This Thursday night’s game is also one of the more anticipated match-ups of the season for Eagles fans as former head coach Andy Reid returns to Philadelphia after 14 years as the Eagles head coach. This week he brings his 2-0 Kansas City Chiefs to town for a Thursday night game, where Donovan McNabb will have his number retired by the Eagles.
So who exactly are these Kansas City Chiefs?
The Kansas City Chiefs are off to a 2-0 start this season, which matches their entire win total from a season ago. The Chiefs defeated the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday and have held both of their opponents under 20 points. Thursday night will mark the second road game of the early season for the Chiefs.
The Eagles own the advantage in the all-time series with the Chiefs, four wins to two. The Eagles have won three straight games in the series with wins in 2009, 2005 and 2001. The last time the Chiefs were in Philadelphia, the Eagles scored a 34-14 victory behind 327 passing yards and two touchdowns from Kevin Kolb. DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek each had 100-yard receiving performances and LeSean McCoy rushed for 84 yards.
Chiefs on Offense
Despite a 2-0 start the Kansas City offense has been anything but spectacular. Entering Week 3 the Chiefs rank 26th in total offense and are averaging just 302.5 yards of total offense and 4.8 yards per play. Kansas City is also ranked 26th in third-down conversion percentage (32.1 percent; Eagles rank 7th with 46.2 percent). If there is one thing the Chiefs have done well though, it has been protecting the football. Quarterback Alex Smith has the only fumble for the team so far this season and the Chiefs managed to recover the loose football. Smith has also not thrown an interception through two games. Jamaal Charles has rushed for 132 yards and one touchdown and is the team’s second leading receiver after two games.
Chiefs on Defense
Kansas City has jumped out to a 2-0 start largely because of the defense. Entering Week 3 the Chiefs are ranked fourth in total defense, allowing just 248 yards per game. They have also recovered two fumbles and recorded five sacks. That defense will look to find a way to slow down the Eagles offense, which has been explosive. The Chiefs will have different ways to put pressure on Mike Vick. Dontari Poe and Justin Houston each have been credited for three sacks and Tamba Hali can be disruptive as well.
Chiefs Players to Watch
Jamaal Charles, Running Back: The Pro Bowl running back is one of the most versatile players on Kansas City’s offensive roster. Charles rushed for 1,509 yards and added 236 receiving yards in 2012. He gives Andy Reid a player to work the offense around, and so far he has been a big part of the game plan. Reid has usually had a versatile running back to work his offense with, including Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy, so utilizing Charles should come natural for the former Eagles coach in Kansas City.
Tamba Hali, Outside Linebacker: The former defensive lineman turned linebacker is off to a slow start in the 2013 season despite scoring a defensive touchdown in Kansas City’s opener in Jacksonville. Hali has typically been a sack master for Kansas City, averaging 11 sacks per season over the last four seasons. He enters week three in pursuit of his first sack of the year. Against the up-tempo style of the Eagles, getting a sack may prove to be difficult once again for the linebacker.
While the Eagles may have a new look in 2013 under head coach Chip Kelly, there may not be another coach in the NFL who knows this team as well as Kansas City head coach Andy Reid. The tempo of the offense may have picked up between the Reid era and the new Kelly regime, but Reid spent enough time in Philadelphia to know what he is going up against Thursday night. The question will be whether or not the Chiefs have enough on offense to keep pace with the Eagles. Kansas City has thrived on defense, but the Eagles offense appears to be consistent enough to put the pressure on the Chiefs.
For more Eagles news and updates, visit Eagles Central.
Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.