There are five storylines to watch for in the Super Bowl

The Philadelphia Eagles vs. the Kansas City Chiefs: The Big Bad Bad, the Big Easy, and the Big Bad (The Good, the Bad)

On Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles will take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Ariz. It’s as close to a tossup as they come, with the Eagles favored by just 1.5 points.

This year’s match-up has been described as a battle of the big men. Both teams finished the season with 14 wins. Both were the #1 seed in their conference. Both teams have won their playoff games to get here.

The Chiefs have the best offense in the league, and they’ve got the presumptive Most Valuable Player in quarterback Patrick Mahomes. But the Eagles are the most complete team in football, and overcoming their league-leading defense will be a tall task.

The Philadelphia Eagles were the class of the NFL all season. They lost only one game in which their starting quarterback, Jerick Hurts, played and it was something of an odd duck with six total turnovers.

Their defense is formidable: Their pass rush is second to none, and overall, they allowed the second fewest yards of any team this year. On offense, they’re much improved from last season. Hurts was already a running threat and has now made big strides in his passing game, and the addition of star receiver A.J. Brown has transformed their ability for explosive plays.

In 2022, Kansas City had the best offense in the league, full stop. The only way to make this true is by looking at the underlying statistics, like the fact that the Chiefs averaged over three points a game more than any other team, or the fact that their expected points added per play was almost twice as high as the second.

Chris Jones is an All-Pro defensive tackle who has helped the Chiefs’ defense perk up from years past.

The Eagles have an imposing pass rush. Their pass rush, led by linebacker Haason Reddick, a dark horse Super Bowl MVP candidate, is the best in the league at getting to the other team’s quarterback. The percentage of plays on which they sacked the quarterback – 11.5% – is the highest of any team in decades. (It was Reddick who easily shed his blocker to reach San Francisco’s quarterback Brock Purdy, a play that ended with the Eagles recovering a fumble and Purdy forced to leave the game with an injured elbow.)

On the other hand, no quarterback is better at avoiding sacks than Mahomes. He excels at sensing pressure and escaping the pocket. Because of that, the Chiefs are especially dangerous on the “play after the play,” as tight end Travis Kelce calls it — in other words, when the original play breaks down, and Mahomes and his receivers make something up on the fly.

No matter what happens in the Super Bowl, this is already a part of history. The big game has never featured two Black starting quarterbacks. That’s a legacy of decades of discrimination against Black men in football, and especially in the quarterback position.

The historic nature of the game and those who have come before them were both discussed this week by Hurts and Mahomes, who are both black. There is more information about that history here.

Hurts sprained his throwing shoulder toward the end of the regular season, causing him to miss two games, both of which the Eagles lost. He’s since struggled with the deep ball — although both of the Eagles’ playoff wins were so decisive that it didn’t much matter.

Three weeks ago, Mahomes had an ankle injury and has been affected ever since. He said this week that he’d see how close he is to 100% on game day.


Super Bowl Bowl with Jason Kelce and Travis Kelce: What they learned about their dads at the Collegiate State Collaborative Football Academy

There are many famous pairs of brothers that have played in the National Football League, but none have played in the Super Bowl.

Now, we’ve got the Kelce Bowl: Jason Kelce is the All-Pro center for the Philadelphia Eagles, and his younger brother Travis is the All-Pro tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs.

The brothers invited their parents on to their podcast for a conversation about what they were like as kids. Who was more honest? What kind of food did they eat? Who is the favorite? It’s all very wholesome.


KCUR and WHYY Contributions to the Philadelphia Eagles: Prep for the Super Bowl at 6:30 p.m. Sunday

It was a transformative era for Philly. Their second-ever Super Bowl appearance was one of the nine playoffs that they took under Reid. But he never seemed to get them over the hump: The team lost in three straight NFC title games, then, when they finally won the fourth, lost in the Super Bowl. After a disappointing 2012 season, the Eagles and their former head coach, AndyReid parted ways. (The Eagles have since mostly continued to be successful, winning the Super Bowl after the 2017 season, and of course appearing again this year.)

The start is at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday. And to help you prepare, we’ve gathered everything you need to know about the game, the prep and the aftermath with some help from our member stations KCUR in Kansas City and WHYY in Philadelphia.

KCUR in Kansas City and WHYY in Philadelphia helped make our coverage of Super Bowl LVII possible. You can support journalism in your city by donating to NPR stations in Philadelphia and Kansas City.

Plus, along with the big game in Arizona, Sunday will also be Puppy Bowl 2023. The pups are in a contest to see who can defeat the other team.


Rihanna’s Halftime and Making Rin: The Case for a Supernova Supersymmetry Breaking Event at CERN-LHC

This year’s halftime headliner is the one and only Rihanna. Back in 2019, she turned down the gig in solidarity with former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick. Brittany Luse of It’s Been a Minute and Gene Demby of Code Switch discuss whether or not previous concerns were addressed in time for her to rise to the mic. WBEZ has a series called Making Rin, which is about the country’s international hero’s rise to fame.

The 2020 victory party for the team is an indication that the celebrations in Kansas City if the team wins the Vince Lombardi trophy this year are going to be crazy. The highlights from the 2020 parade can be found here. Either way:

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