Super Bowl LVII preview: Evenly-matched contenders could produce battle of the ages

Super Bowl week just builds and builds and now we’re here, it’s almost game time for the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs, but who will be taking home the Lombardi Trophy?

It's a tough one to answer, with hardly anything between them and the bookmakers have Philly as ever-so-slight 1.5-point favourites, which essentially means it's a coin toss.
Over here in Phoenix time has been spent pouring over all the data, all the stats, all the tape, speaking to all the players, the coaches, the journalists, just looking for that sense, that vibe, those few nuggets that point to a possible winner.
And yet, just before the game, we're no clearer of knowing who will win Super Bowl LVII, but there is the sense that it could be an absolute classic.

Phoenix the perfect spot for a Super Bowl

First off, I think it's always worth a word about the venue, it's such a huge part of the Super Bowl festivities and those of us lucky enough to have been to a few always have our favourites - this is certainly one of mine.
The climate is great, there are plenty of flights in and the airport is basically in the heart of the city near all the downtown attractions, including the media centre for us and the NFL Experience for the fans.
It's also the week of the Waste Management Phoenix Open on the PGA Tour just up the road in Scottsdale, and being a big golf fan as well as NFL follower makes this a golden venue - being able to attend both is massive as the Phoenix Open is unique.
For the rare spot of down time there's also a host of top-notch golf courses, there's old town Scottsdale for parties, some fantastic desert scenery, cowboy town attractions, hiking, and now too far away is the Grand Canyon.
Why is this important? Well, whether you're based in the USA, or you're one of the growing number of UK fans who regularly go over for the big game, it's important to get the entertainment around the game just right - and for me this place has the lot.
And after taking in everything from around the city, here's what the experts think about the Super Bowl..

Why the Chiefs will win the Super Bowl

Two word or three letters - Patrick Mahomes, MVP. That's about the long and the short of it as the Chiefs don't match the Eagles in terms of strength in depth anywhere else on the field bar tight end - where Travis Kelce may just be the best we've ever seen.
They're the top two in terms of sacks, but the Chiefs were a distant second and Philly are the first team to have four players each have 10 each, so good luck stopping all of that wrecking crew.
And while the Eagles have the top pass defence in the league, the Chiefs have three rookies. That's a concern around Chiefs reporters here on Phoenix, as although the youngsters have improved, are they ready to cover AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith?
And then there's that ankle sprain for Mahomes, which has dominated the talk this week. We've seen him walking pretty smoothly and in practice there's been no obvious problem, but he's not been at full speed yet, he's got close to it, but he's admitted that he'll need the adrenaline to get him through.
One thing we do now, he'll need to run, he'll need to make plays, he'll need to pull every rabbit out of the hat to get the better of these Eagles, but he does have every throw in the book, he's even written a new book with his side arms, underarms and even left handed throws.
Mahomes was a near consensus MVP pick, and the consensus is that if anyone can overcome all the obstacles this game will present it's him - but it's also the consensus that he will need to be at his very best to bring the Lombardi back to KC.

Why the Eagles will win the Super Bowl

It's not quite a one-man band for the Chiefs, but they need Mahomes to elevate them to the level capable of challenging the best team in the league, the most well-crafted roster that has no holes and plenty of back-up.
They've got everything, and the confidence is high among Philly reporters and fans that if they just play like they have been playing then they'll get this job done.
And that means Eagles football - power and spite on both lines, dominating in the trenches, creating big holes to run through and then, only if needed, having Jalen Hurts throw a few bombs to his top receivers.
Hurts is the perfect QB for this system, and he doesn't have to do anywhere near as much as Mahomes to win his team the Super Bowl - with the big difference being that the Eagles defence or run game could win it for him.
Philly fans and reporters have also expressed to me a niggle about Hurts seemingly being overlooked and overshadowed by Mahomes in the MVP voting - and they're adamant that after this game there'll be a brand new appreciation for their quarterback.

Chiefs not overly keen on referee appointment

There's been some rumblings about the appointment of Carl Cheffers as Super Bowl referee for the second time in three seasons - especially from Chiefs followers who remember him with not too fond memories after he took charge of their defeat against Tampa Bay in Super Bowl LV.
Cheffers and his crew threw 13 flags against KC in that game, and also tossed a controversial roughing the passer flag against Chris Jones this season, so there is some disappointment that he's been given this game.
The NFL hates any kind of bad publicity about officiating though, so will have full confidence Cheffers can handle this game, and they'll know he's already under scrutiny, but it's another thing to watch out for in the big game.

Super Bowl storylines

However this goes we've had the big storylines coming all week - the Kelce brother making history, two black quarterbacks making more important history as they line up in a Super Bowl for the first time.
If the Chiefs win, they're right bang in dynasty talk after getting to five straight AFC Championship games, and the conversations have been going on all week as to whether head coach Andy Reid actually needs the win more than younger counterpart Nick Siriani.
Other argue that the Chiefs already have a legacy, but with Mahomes still on 27, if he added a second Super Bowl now he'd be well on the way to becoming a legend - otherwise he becomes a two-time Super Bowl loser.
The Eagles have shown a way to build a Super Bowl roster, and the general manager Howie Roseman may take as many plaudits as Jalen Hurts.
What most people have said though is that this one should be an instant classic, so let's hope everyone is right and we get a Super Bowl for the ages.

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