The popular media and casual fan storyline right now is that Andy Reid is returning to Philadelphia tonight, but the reality is, that will only be interesting for the first five or 10 minutes of NFL Network's broadcast.
Once the game is rolling, Reid will be an afterthought.
And that's a good thing, because this is one of the most enticing matchups you'll ever see between two teams that won four or fewer games in the previous season.
Both were terrible last year, but there's plenty of talent on each roster and they're both riding early waves with new coaching staffs in place.
The Chiefs are off to a 2-0 start under Reid. The offense looks efficient with its new quarterback as well as familiar weapons Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe, while the defense is tearing it up early at every level.
The Eagles are 1-1, but that new-look Chip Kelly offense is second in the league in yards and yards per play while ranking third in points.
Philly's at home, which is often a big advantage on Thursdays, but that Eagles defense—the one that was ripped apart by San Diego in this very same venue four days ago—is the weakest unit in this game. That could be the difference in what might be a surprisingly thrilling matchup to kick off Week 3.
Here's a final preview from Philadelphia's perspective, along with a prediction.
|Thursday night||NFL average|
|Home team winning %||.620||.564|
|Home team point differential||+3.0||+2.3|
Pro Football Reference
What Philly Must Do to Win, Offensive Edition
The Eagles might have been able to cruise against Washington and San Diego's defenses, but this is a whole new ballgame. The Chiefs are giving up only 3.8 yards per play on defense, which leads the league, and they've been especially stout against the run.
It won't be easy for Michael Vick to make some big plays while avoiding mistakes, but that's what has to happen if Philly stands a chance.
What Philly Must Do to Win, Defensive Edition
Shut down Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe, or at least limit those two weapons. This defense could be in big trouble. Last week, the Chargers toyed with the group at the line of scrimmage, forcing it to show its hand and then exploiting its many weak spots.
The Eagles haven't had enough time this week to remedy that issue, and now they have a more efficient offense led by a coach who knows the personnel very well.
Their only hope is to focus on the big guns and remain disciplined, avoiding big plays. Thus, if I were Bill Davis, I would go easy on the blitzes this time around.
Five Most Important Non-Quarterbacks
Lane Johnson: The rookie had trouble with Dwight Freeney, and now he'll have to go up against the younger, faster and stronger Justin Houston. That could be very problematic if he isn't ready to play.
Jason Kelce: The entire offensive line has to play well Thursday night, but Kelce will be dealing with red-hot Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe.
LeSean McCoy: If the Eagles want to get things going on the ground against such a stellar defense, they'll have to neutralize Poe and find unique ways to get at that front seven.
DeSean Jackson: He'll have his work cut out for him against that secondary, but the Eagles have to figure out a way to stretch that defense out.
|1. DeSean Jackson||Philadelphia Eagles||297|
|2. Julio Jones||Atlanta Falcons||258|
|3. Randall Cobb||Green Bay Packers||236|
Pro Football Reference
Injury Analysis, Eagles Edition
The Eagles continue to be remarkably healthy. Cornerback Brandon Hughes was recently placed on short-term injured reserve, but ESPN has Bradley Fletcher listed as probable after missing Week 2 with a concussion.
Everyone else looks ready to go.
Who will win Thursday night?
Injury Analysis, Chiefs Edition
Top corner Brandon Flowers was limited in practice all week with a knee injury. ESPN's Ed Werder reports that he's expected to play, though, and they'll also get nickel man Dunta Robinson back. Sean Smith is a great cover man too, so DeSean Jackson and Co. will have their hands full.
Elsewhere, Jamaal Charles and Branden Albert are practicing without limitations.
B/R NFC East Blog Prediction
The Chiefs offense is good, but not what scares me. The defense is just so much better than Philly's, though, and that's the difference in this game.
I think it will be even because the Chiefs are traveling on short rest and facing an unpredictable opponent, but I just don't think this Philadelphia defense can stop anybody right now. I predict the Philly offense meets its match and the Chiefs eke out another close victory.
Keep in mind that these Thursday night games are typically lower scoring than Sunday and Monday matchups.
Chiefs 24, Eagles 23