A guide to who you should root for in the 2023 Super Bowl

The annual primer to prepare you for possibly the only football game you’ll watch this year is back once again to make you seem educated around the football-watching community you may be encountering at a watch-party. Even if you resent the now 17-game season and expanded playoffs that take up everyone else’s Sundays, let’s be real: are you really going to go out of your way to ignore the big game and watch Animation Domination or something while it’s going on? Probably not. You may know that Rihanna is the halftime show, you may be excited for the celebrity-endorsed commercials and movie trailers, and you may be a Chris Stapleton fan hoping he nails the National Anthem, but regardless of your football knowledge or lack thereof, you’ll be tuning in. The allure and the pageantry that makes it the largest American spectacle is too monumental and overdone for you to look away. Here’s what you need to know about the actual teams competing this year, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Kansas City Chiefs

You may remember this team from their appearances in both 2020 and 2021 and almost making it in 2022. Yeah, I would get used to it as long as Patrick Mahomes is the quarterback, because ever since he’s entered the league, he’s been just that special.

There were talks that the Chiefs may have to regroup after their semi-dynastic run thus far by the slingshot-throwing face of the NFL at the helm- due to the fact that quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes are, uh, expensive (Mahomes, the

MVP-winner, signed a $450 million 10-year deal in 2020 and makes 17% of the team’s cap space), Kansas City followed up losing the AFC Championship by starting off the year by playing the long-game and dealing away their cheetah wide receiver, Tyreek Hill, to Miami knowing that they couldn’t pay him and keep a balanced roster down the line. What would the Chiefs’ run-and-gun, fiery offense look like without a receiver that practically tilts the field?

The answer: still good enough to reach the Super Bowl.

Mahomes’s arm talent is so special, so historically-unique, that no matter if one of the best receivers in football is taken away from him, he still operates as if he’s the football grim reaper where the team will always have a chance to win the game as long as he has the opportunity to drive down the field. He may have lost Hill, but head coach Andy Reid (nicknamed “Big Red” and the biggest cheeseburger fanatic on the face of the Earth) is an offensive connoisseur who opens up the field for Mahomes to throw to shifty running backs Isaiah Pacheco and Jerrick McKinnon, or they just do what Mahomes always does when in doubt: throw to Travis Kelce, possibly the greatest receiving tight end of all-time and Mahomes’s security blanket that will be a duo talked about in the black & white NFL Films documentaries years down the line.

Mahomes has essentially eliminated all of the possible adversities that would be relevant to other quarterbacks because of his talent alone thus far- it truly feels like you’re watching something special every time he takes the field, and he’s still only 27. However, this Super Bowl will be another test of whether or not the magic can continue as he’s made everyone who’s bet against him look like a fool in every instance. The Chiefs, who already have a shaky defense, could have a concussed L’Jarius Snead (their best corner) and possibly without their best linebacker, Willie Gay Jr. They’re going to be reliant on youth, but Chris Jones on the defensive line is basically unleashing the bear from the trailers of the upcoming movie Cocaine Bear and could be all they need on that side of the ball. Mahomes could also be without three receivers that left the last game injured, so Kelce could end the game with 58 receptions.

You’re probably thinking to yourself that Mahomes is a humble, historically-talented individual and Andy Reid is just a jolly head coach that loves his Kansas City barbecue, why shouldn’t they clearly be the lovable, midwestern-market team? We love success until there is overexposure. Mahomes is in every commercial possible, his brother is a Tiktok fiend, and their success out of the AFC every single year has become tiresome. It certainly doesn’t help when Travis Kelce barks into the microphone like a WWE wrestling character after games, calling out mayors of cities (even though you can’t say anything back to him, because he’s just that good and they’re winning). We root for titans to fall, unfortunately, because of their inevitability. That inevitability is here again.

Classmate Comparison: The golden child accepting the award yet again that you don’t really have a reason to dislike aside from he/she being good at everything

Celebrity Fans: Paul Rudd, Brad Pitt, Rob Riggle, Eric Stonestreet, Melissa Etheridge, Jason Sudeikis, Jon Hamm, David Koechner

Pop Culture Comparisons: Hulk Hogan, Captain America’s Boy Scout-ish nature in the MCU, the Golden State Warriors, Taylor Swift’s inevitability at the top of the charts

Level of Flash: The small-town wealthy Friday Night Lights family driving a massive brand-new truck with all the bells & whistles

Song to Describe Team: “The Ruler’s Back” by Jay-Z

Smart football anecdote to tell your friends at a party: “This game is going to come down to whether or not Frank Clark can provide enough pressure against the Eagles’ best offensive line in football and if the youth in their secondary can hold their own while the Chiefs do their thing on offense.”

Philadelphia Eagles

Yes, the Eagles are the team that won their first Super Bowl in 2017 and the city practically set itself ablaze by greasing the poles so people wouldn’t climb on them any longer- that’s how sports-crazed this city is. If they go on to lose this Super Bowl the same year that the Phillies just lost the World Series in baseball, we may be fearing for the safety of our nation.

The Eagles have accomplished one of the most-impressive team-rebuilding jobs in sports history to get here again. Winning their Super Bowl with a backup quarterback that turned out to be a flash in the pan on that miracle run, they lost Nick Foles, the former quarterback Carson Wentz turned into a pumpkin after the injury he suffered that year,

and they fired their Super Bowl-winning coach, Doug Pederson immediately following their 4-11-1 record in 2020 where they finally cut ties with Wentz and concluded that a new direction was needed. 

The new era began, and now we’re here- they drafted quarterback Jalen Hurts as a backup in 2020 who happens to be one of the most-likable stories in all of sports currently. He took a powerhouse Alabama team to the National Championship only to get benched for Tua Tagovailoa after his throwing talent was doubted, and Tua went on to throw possibly the most-historic game-winning throw in college football history. Rather than be sour about the situation, Hurts kept his head high and has been the ultimate team-first oriented leader that is the model of character. Throughout his evaluation after his impressive years at Alabama and then his transfer years at Oklahoma, he’s been seen as a doubted after-thought, one that has been more touted based off of his leadership and his dual-threat capabilities with limitations in the passing game- a quarterback you win WITH rather than BECAUSE OF. Hurts clearly won the job, and this year will likely finish second in the MVP race as his passing has only improved, and he’s the man that this Eagles team will lay it all on the line for.

Enter coach Nick Sirianni in 2021 after firing Doug Pederson. He got off to a mumbling, bumbling start that instilled essentially no confidence after a less-than-impressive opening press conference upon his hire. However, you play to win games, not press conferences! Although Sirianni has been a bit of a corny meatball throughout his tenure, playing rock-paper-scissors to evaluate talent at the combine, wearing “BEAT DALLAS” shirts just for the satisfaction of playing their rival, and blasting “Lose Yourself” by Eminem to get the team hype, he’s been one of the more impressive hires of this decade, elevating a system with Hurts that’s taken them all the way back to the Super Bowl.

The elevation of Hurts, the Sirianni hire, and the rebuild of this Eagles team through GM Howie Roseman, trading all of their assets that landed them incredible receivers AJ Brown and Devonta Smith, an Eagles pass rush that leads the league in sacks, and the best offensive line in football. The faith that they put in Hurts to build around on his rookie deal and that faith paying off has completely rebranded what we thought was a disaster after the Wentz fallout, and they could be competing in the NFC for the foreseeable future with all of the assets and young talent they’ve accumulated.

This Super Bowl is going to be the ultimate case study of what’s more valuable: the Chiefs may have the best overall player in Mahomes, but the Eagles are the more complete and balanced team; that’s what got them to the best record in the NFL this year at 14-3 (two of their losses coming when Jalen Hurts wasn’t even playing) and the best #1 rushing offense and the #1 overall defense; they’ve been able to be in complete control of every game they’ve played thus far, and they carry themselves like it in the process.

They’re the underdog story, much like Rocky, if you solely focus on the Hurts and rebuilding narrative, however, the Philly fans that once threw batteries at Santa won’t tell you that. They have the “EVERYONE DOUBTED US” middle-finger energy that makes them not the lovable underdog story, but the underdog story of a homeless aggressive 200-pound dog that still might bite you if you try to offer it a bowl of water. The Philly fans don’t want you to like them- that’s why in their last Super Bowl parade, Jason Kelce sang “WE’RE FROM PHILLY! NO ONE LIKES US! WE DON’T CARE!” You are either with Philly and their ride 100% or you’re the enemy.

Classmate Comparison: The competitive person that took every in-class game or athletics WAY too seriously

Celebrity Fans: Bradley Cooper, Kevin Hart, Joel Embiid, Mike Trout, Tina Fey, Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, The Roots, President Joe Biden, Rob McElhenney and Kaitlin Olsen

Pop Culture Comparisons: Eminem’s character in 8 Mile, Happy Gilmore, Eddie Munson from Stranger Things

Level of Flash: The person on social media showing off a financial luxury and giving all credit to “THE GRIND” with the 100 emojis and posts motivational success quotes

Song to Describe Team: “Millidelphia” by Meek Mill

Smart football anecdote to tell your friends at a party: “You know, Travis Kelce may be the best receiving tight end of this generation, but Jason might actually be the more valuable Kelce brother as a dominant center in the trenches that’s the team leader of that unit that allows them to have the rushing attack that they do. The Eagles’ line in the trenches is the straw that stirs the drink.”

The Kansas City Chiefs face off against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, February 12th at 6:30 EST on FOX.

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