Andy Reid will be in a familiar setting on the sideline at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday, but instead of wearing midnight green like he did for the last 14 seasons, Reid will don red and gold with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Roughly nine months after he was fired by the Eagles, Reid will be back in Philadelphia. While his return will draw plenty of attention and make for an interesting storyline, there will be a competitive game to play once the nostalgia wears off. Reid and the Chiefs come in 2-0, matching Kansas City's win total from the entire 2012 season. The Eagles have also had some early success, especially offensively.
Reid and new Eagles coach Chip Kelly will likely shake hands and talk a bit before the game. Reid may even say "hello" to a few former players. Eventually, kickoff will arrive and the attention will turn to the play on the field, where the Chiefs and Eagles will have a few interesting matchups.
Reid's offense vs. Philadelphia's defense
The Eagles' defense has struggled this season, ranking 30th in yards allowed and 28th in points allowed. Philadelphia gave up an average of 360.5 passing yards per game during the first two weeks, second worst in the league. Despite the issues, Philadelphia's defense matches up well with what the Chiefs try to do offensively.
Kansas City is 2-0, despite racking up the 26th-most offensive yards through two games. The Chiefs rely on the running game led by Jamaal Charles. Kansas City likes to run the ball up the middle, with 24 of its 52 attempts going that route. The Chiefs are averaging 4.4 yards per attempt up the middle, but thus far the Eagles have done a good job of stopping run plays up the gut, allowing just 2.2 yards per attempt.
Instead, the Chiefs may find more success running off the edges. Philadelphia is allowing 6.0 yards per attempt on runs off either the left or right end. Kansas City hasn't had much success running off the left edge, but it is averaging 7.3 yards per carry on runs to the right edge.
The Redskins and Chargers had success throwing the ball against the Eagles. If Kansas City is going to do the same, it is going to have to improve on its early-season performance. The Chiefs are 27th in the NFL in passing yards and 29th in yards per attempt. Alex Smith hasn't taken many shots deep, with 62 of his 70 pass attempts going short. Philadelphia has been better at defending the short pass than the deep ball, so Kansas City may need to switch it up to find success.
Kelly's offense vs. Kansas City's defense
When the Eagles have the ball, it will be a battle of strength vs. strength. Kansas City is second in the NFL in scoring defense through two games, and the Eagles are third in scoring offense. The big matchup will be on the ground. Philadelphia and LeSean McCoy have gashed teams to the tune of 176 rushing yards per game. Kansas City, however, is allowing just 54 rushing yards per contest.
Which side ultimately prevails could come down to the individual matchups between the left side of the Eagles' offensive line and the Chiefs' defensive line. Left tackle Jason Peters and left guard Evan Mathis are the strength of Philadelphia's line. The Eagles are averaging 7.0 yards per carry on runs to the left. Left defensive end Tyson Jackson and nose tackle Dontari Poe will attempt to slow down that attack. Teams are averaging 2.9 yards per attempt on seven rushes to the left against Kansas City.
Philadelphia is not a one-dimensional team and will also attack through the air. The Eagles exploit teams with short passes, gaining 446 of their 602 passing yards on short attempts. DeSean Jackson is second in the NFL with 149 yards after the catch. That short passing game will be tested since the Chiefs have fared well against short attempts so far. Kansas City is allowing 4.1 yards per attempt on short throws. With the Eagles averaging 10.4 yards per short pass attempt, something will have to give on Thursday.