Place your bets, ready those jerseys, and start marinating the wings — Super Bowl LVII is right around the corner. But who's expected to win? Here's what the experts are thinking ahead of the Feb. 12 championship game:
The Philadelphia Eagles
It seems almost criminal to refer to the Chiefs as "underdogs" — but as far as the sportsbooks are concerned, the Super Bowl is the Eagles' to lose. As of Monday, Feb. 6., betting apps DraftKings, FanDuel, and Caesars Sportsbook had each classified Philly as a 1.5-point favorite, with the over/under for total points at 50. That spread had grown "as high as -2.5 in Philadelphia's favor" in the days following both conference championships but has since fallen back and "held firm," per gambling writer Adam Walford.
Regarding a winner, Walford is high on the Eagles, who he says have the best passing defense in the league and are sure to benefit from an injury to Kansas' quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes "was remarkable against the Bengals playing with a high ankle sprain," Walford says, "but even with the extra week off between the title game and the Super Bowl, he is unlikely to be 100 percent."
ESPN's Mike Clay agrees with Walford: The Birds are "absolutely stacked (and healthy) on both sides of the ball," and are therefore headed for their second Lombardi trophy, he predicted at the end of January. Indeed, "the Chiefs lack their normal abundance of offensive playmakers, Mahomes and [tight end Travis Kelce] probably won't be 100 percent, and this Philadelphia team is dominant, especially when operating at full capacity," added fantasy and betting writer Eric Moody. Sure, it probably won't be a total wipeout, but "the rested Philadelphia defense is going to be brilliant," Pete Fiutak estimated for College Football News. Even Amazon's Alexa and EA Sports' Madden simulation are predicting an Eagles dub (though it's worth noting the Madden simulation has gone 1-4 across its last five predictions).
In terms of public opinion, 36 percent of Americans believe the Birds will emerge victorious, versus 31 percent who think the same of the Chiefs, according to a Morning Consult survey released Feb. 6. Thirty-five percent of Americans also said they want the Eagles to win, while just 31 percent identified as rooting for KC.
The Kansas City Chiefs
Maybe it's just his time with the New York Giants talking, but former quarterback Eli Manning is rooting for the Chiefs, in part because the team has "been in this scenario before," he told The Ringer's Kevin Clark on Clark's podcast, Slow News Day. Yes, the Eagles have won championships in the past, but at the moment, they "don't have as many people in the main, core positions that have been in the Super Bowl," Manning continued. "So I think the Chiefs have a little advantage." (For context — most members of the Eagles, including head coach Nick Sirianni, are heading to the Super Bowl for the first time.)
Matt Miller, an NFL draft analyst for ESPN, looks to be in agreement with Manning. "We've seen how much experience matters in the postseason," he said, adding on top of that that Mahomes (and injured receivers Kadarius Toney, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Mecole Hardman) will have had plenty of time to get healthy and play their best by the time the big game rolls around. But if KC arrives in Arizona "still this banged up, they're going to need Mahomes to be at an all-time miracle worker level" if he's going to pull off another title, Dan Graziano, an NFL Insider for ESPN, noted separately.
But to Graziano's point — if anyone can make a difference in this game, it's Mahomes, Alex Kirshner adds for Slate. The Eagles are a "wrecking crew" with "more weapons than most teams could ever imagine." But they "just don't have Mahomes. And a football team that doesn't have Patrick Mahomes cannot be a football team that has everything."
Most of the arguments in the Eagles' favor tend to praise the team's pass rush abilities, Andrew Buller-Russ writes for Sportsnaut, but it would be shortsighted to overlook the fact that KC can take down quarterbacks, too. And again, this isn't head coach Andy Reid's first rodeo, Buller-Russ goes on. "Not only is this his third time taking the Chiefs to the NFL Championship with Mahomes as his QB, he's also been here before when he was coaching the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004." That experience in mind, Reid certainly won't repeat any of his past mistakes.