KANSAS CITY, Mo. – And then there were eight, as in eight undefeated teams in the NFL.
The Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) are among that group, which includes five AFC teams, entering Week Three without a loss when they take on the Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday night.
From the emergence of Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe to Eagles coach Chip Kelly’s offense, the game features numerous storylines. But the obvious story Chiefs coach Andy Reid has tried to deflect surrounds his return to Philadelphia where he spent 14 seasons.
“In this business you’re focused in on getting your team ready to play, and so that’s where my energy is going to go,” Reid said during his Monday media conference call. “I want to make sure I concentrate on the game at hand and anything else becomes a distraction, and I’m not going to let that happen.”
Still, Reid’s return to a city where he amassed six NFC East division titles, five NFC Championships and a Super Bowl appearance proves hard to ignore.
Philadelphia Inquirer sports columnist Marc Narducci spent the last three days in Kansas City, and The NFL Network and ESPN had TV personnel at the Chiefs training facility.
Some Chiefs players took after their coach’s stance during open locker room media sessions, preferring to talk only about the game.
However, a few understood there’s potentially more to the matchup.
“You want to win, not only for yourself, the organization, and the fans, but he has history there,” wide receiver Dexter McCluster said on Monday. “He came to us and told us, it’s not about me, but we want to go out there and win and put that smile on his face. I know it will be special for him.”
Quarterback Alex Smith took virtually the same stance on Tuesday.
“We’re trying to win every game,” he said. “This is the next one on the list, so I don’t think there’s any added to it, but we certainly understand what this is like for him. He was there for so long and going back and playing his old team; these are guys he coached and drafted and brought there. For us, you’re trying to win every game as much as you can, but I think we do recognize the situation.”
Tale of the tape
• The Chiefs currently rank eighth in rushing (117.5 yards per game) and 26th in passing (185 yards per game).
• The Eagles rank second in rushing (176 yards per game) and 10th in passing (301 yards per game).
• The Chiefs rank second against the run (54 yards allowed per game) and eighth against the pass (194 allowed per game).
• The Eagles rank 19th against the run (100 yards allowed per game) and 31st against the pass (360.5 yards allowed per game).
Strength on strength
The Eagles are the only team in the NFC to score 30 or more points in each of the first two games.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs rank second in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing nine points per game on average.
Something has to give on Thursday night.
The last time
The Eagles defeated the Chiefs, 34-14, in Week Three of 2009 in Philadelphia.
The Chiefs are 2-4 all-time against the Eagles, with a 1-1 record in games played in Philadelphia.
Kansas City has lost the last three matchups between the two teams. The Chiefs last win against the Eagles was a 24-21 victory in Philadelphia on Sept. 27, 1998.
The Chiefs are the fifth team in NFL history to start 2-0 following a season with at least 14 losses in the previous year, according to Week Three notes released by the NFL.
Should the Chiefs go to 3-0, Andy Reid will become the first head coach in team history to accomplish the feat in his first season with the team.
But it gets better for Chiefs fans hoping for a legitimate shot at the playoffs.
It’s often said numbers don’t lie, so try this on for size – 75.4 percent of teams (86-of-114) that started 3-0 since 1990 made the playoffs.
Poe has Philadelphia’s attention
Talking live on 610 Sports Radio, former Chiefs defensive lineman Bill Maas compared Dontari Poe to a combination of Baltimore Ravens nose tackle Haloti Ngata and Cincinnati Bengals Chiefs defensive tackle Geno Atkins.
Now that’s a compliment.
Meanwhile, Poe has been mentioned by national NFL media and there’s no end in sight given the havoc he’s caused in the two games since the season started. His 3.5 sacks lead the team and he’s currently fourth on the team in tackles with nine.
The Eagles are well aware of Poe heading into Thursday night.
“There aren’t many guys at that size that move that well in the world,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said of Poe during Tuesday’s media conference call. “Obviously, he’s caught everybody’s attention on our side, I can tell you that.”
Up close and personal
There are obvious Chiefs-Eagles ties, more so than the familiarity of the Cowboys last week with NFC East ties. It’s coach Andy Reid against his former team and most of Reid’s current staff came from the Eagles.
Meanwhile, there’s a player on the Chiefs roster with experience against Philadelphia’s current coach.
While a senior at Washington State in 2007, Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah played against then-Oregon offensive coordinator Chip Kelly’s offense in 2007.
Abdullah admits it’s been a long time, but he’s aware how Kelly’s offense has evolved since he saw it on the field to what it is now in the NFL.
“It’s the speed factor, the hurry effect,” Abdullah said on Tuesday. “When we played, it wasn’t against trying to get off plays every 10 or 15 seconds.”
Abdullah explained that over time, especially in the game of football, coaches begin noticing how to adjust systems in order to improve.
And that’s what Kelly and his coaching staff have done over the years before taking the system to the NFL.
“I think they noticed that speeding things up, getting more athletic guys in space and in one-on-one matchups, it became more difficult to defend,” Abdullah said. “I think that’s been the biggest difference from when I played against Oregon to now because they didn’t run it like how they run it now.”
Quotable, Take I
Chiefs coach Andy Reid responds when a reporter pointed out he appeared rejuvenated in Kansas City during Monday’s media conference call:
“Well, the barbecue is great,” Reid said.
Quotable, Take II
Eagles coach Chip Kelly during Tuesday’s media conference call when asked to describe his offense:
“We like to try to score points and we hope people let us score points,” Kelly said.
The Eagles’ offensive run of 30 or more points in two straight games is impressive. However, they haven’t faced a defense like the Chiefs yet.
Of course, an argument can be made the Chiefs haven’t faced an offense like the Eagles. But when a defense holds a potent Dallas Cowboys offense to a single touchdown, it’s a legitimate defense.
Forget the Chiefs are on the road. Forget the short week. Forget the hype over Kelly’s offense. Forget how Reid doesn’t want to talk about his return to Philadelphia.
A show of hands, please. Who doesn’t believe Reid really wants this win?
Outcome: Chiefs 20, Eagles 17
Wednesdays official NFL Injury Report, as released by the league:
Kansas City Chiefs
Doubtful: TE Anthony Fasano (ankle)
Questionable: CB Brandon Flowers (knee), TE Travis Kelce (knee)
Probable: T Branden Albert (shoulder), DE Mike Devito (neck), LB James-Michael Johnson (neck), LB Nico Johnson (ankle), LB Dezman Moses (toe)
Did not practice
Monday: T Branden Albert (shoulder), TE Anthony Fasano (ankle), CB Brandon Flowers (knee), LB James-Michael Johnson (neck), TE Travis Kelce (knee)
Tuesday: TE Anthony Fasano (ankle)
Wednesday: TE Anthony Fasano (ankle)
Monday: DL Mike DeVito (neck)
Tuesday: CB Brandon Flowers (knee), TE Travis Kelce (knee)
Wednesday: CB Brandon Flowers (knee), TE Travis Kelce (knee)
Monday: LB Nico Johnson (ankle), LB Dezman Moses (toe)
Tuesday: T Branden Albert (shoulder), DE Mike Devito (neck), LB James-Michael Johnson (neck), LB Nico Johnson (ankle), LB Dezman Moses (toe)
Wednesday: T Branden Albert (shoulder), DE Mike Devito (neck), LB James-Michael Johnson (neck), LB Nico Johnson (ankle), LB Dezman Moses (toe)
Probable: CB Brandon Boykin (quadricep), TE Brent Celek (shoulder), CB Bradley Fletcher (concussion), C Jason Kelce (thumb), T Dennis Kelly (back), LB Mychal Kendricks (groin)
Did not practice
Monday: CB Brandon Hughes (hamstring)
Tuesday: CB Brandon Hughes (hamstring)
Monday: CB Brandon Boykin (quad), TE Brent Celek (shoulder), CB Bradley Fletcher (concussion), C Jason Kelce (thumb), T Dennis Kelly (back), LB Mychal Kendricks (groin)
Tuesday: CB Brandon Boykin (quadricep), TE Brent Celek (shoulder), CB Bradley Fletcher (concussion), C Jason Kelce (thumb), T Dennis Kelly (back), LB Mychal Kendricks (groin)
Wednesday: CB Brandon Boykin (quadricep), TE Brent Celek (shoulder), CB Bradley Fletcher (concussion), C Jason Kelce (thumb), T Dennis Kelly (back), LB Mychal Kendricks (groin)