NFL 2017 Week 2: Philadelphia Eagles vs Kansas City Chiefs preview and prediction

Two teams that won impressively in Week 1 look for more in a compelling interconference tilt.

Week 1 recap

On a day when the two teams turned the ball over a combined six times, it was the last of those that made the difference in a 30-17 Eagles win. That’s when Fletcher Cox picked up a Kirk Cousins fumble and rumbled 20 yards for a touchdown to put the game out of reach. Carson Wentz suffered his own pick-six but overcame that for 307 yards and two touchdown passes, one of which came on a spectacular escape from a sack to find Nelson Agholor for a 58-yard bomb. The Eagles racked up four sacks of Cousins, including two by Brandon Graham.

Going into the defending champion’s home field on opening night is never an easy task, but the Chiefs handled it brilliantly in a 42-27 upset. After a shaky start with a fumble on his first carry, rookie running back Kareem Hunt exploded for 246 total yards and three TDs. Alex Smith also had a monster statistical game, with 368 yards and four TD passes, including the 78-yard toss to Hunt that gave the Chiefs the lead for good at the start of the fourth quarter. The defense fought hard and held Tom Brady without a touchdown pass, while safety Eric Berry played brilliantly in limiting Rob Gronkowski to just two catches.

Key areas

Hunt-ing High and Low – Kareem Hunt had the most impressive debut by a rookie running back in nearly 40 years in the NFL. What can he do for an encore? Well, the Eagles did a nice job holding down the Redskins running game in the opener, but they did struggle to contain Chris Thompson as a receiver out of the backfield. Hunt showed that ability time and again against the Patriots, and he’ll likely be the focal point of the Chiefs offense again.

Not Your Older Brother’s Chiefs – For several seasons now, the Chiefs have been known for running a ball-control, short-passing, attack that didn’t take a lot of chances. After all, we’re only a few seasons removed from a year when they had no wide receiver catch a touchdown pass. Those days are gone, however, thanks to Hunt, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce. Limiting big plays, which the Eagles did very well in Week 1, will once again be the key to success for the Philadelphia D.

Wentz-Forth – Carson Wentz looked for all the world like a guy who’s ready to make the leap in his second season into the higher echelon of NFL quarterbacks. The Eagles have given him a few more weapons at receiver. His circus touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor looked like some sort of combination of Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger. A road win against a top team like Kansas City would go a long way to him ascending that imaginary ladder.

Matchup to watch

Eagles TE Zach Ertz vs Chiefs SS Daniel Sorensen – The big downer last week for the Chiefs amidst their wonderful win was the Achilles injury that knocked out team leader Eric Berry for the season. Berry shut down Rob Gronkowski and would have drawn the assignment on Ertz, who had a big opening week for Philly. Instead, it falls on Sorensen, known for his special teams play but now pressed into service for a tough matchup.

Fantasy football tip

Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery – Jeffery drew the unfortunate assignment in Week 1, often running routes against Josh Norman. Although Marcus Peters is a turnover-creator bar-none for the Chiefs at corner, he’ll also yield his share of yardage. If you had Jeffery sitting in the first week, now might be the time to turn him loose as he searches for his Eagles breakout performance.

Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 24-23 Kansas City Chiefs

I think the Chiefs might let down a bit after their thrilling Thursday win, especially with the extra time off and Berry’s injury. Philly might be a sneaky contender for the NFC East crown, and they start to prove it here.

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Jim Beviglia

Jim is a freelance writer concentrating on music and sports. He is the author of four books and writes for several online and print publications. He lives in Old Forge, Pennsylvania with his wife Marie and his daughter Daniele.