One year ago today, some of the players who are practicing ahead of Super Bowl LVII were still playing football at the collegiate ranks. At this point and time, they’re now getting ready to play in the biggest game of their lives, at the height of their profession.
It may be a stark transition, but there are a few rookies playing for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs that could make their mark on Sunday.
Perhaps the rookie with the best chance to impact Super Bowl LVII is Kansas City Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco. After being brought on slowly to begin the year, Pacheco is now the unquestioned leader of the backfield, and the go to option on early downs. Kansas City has elected to activate former starting back Clyde Edwards-Helaire off of IR, but his presence shouldn’t affect the workload that Pacheco is slated to see.
In a surprising turn of events, the Chiefs actually need Pacheco to play decently in order to keep their offense on schedule. He wasn’t able to get going in the AFC championship game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but he was a huge factor in the Divisional Round against the Jacksonville Jaguars. With the Kansas City receiving corps somewhat banged up, it’ll be up to Pacheco to keep the chains moving.
As most NFL fans know by now, Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes figures to come into Super Bowl LVII at less than 100 percent. The last time we saw him play, he was limping around the field against the Bengals, and his mobility was pretty clearly limited.
With an extra week of rest to heal up, it’s possible that the injury that’s hobbled Mahomes may be less of a factor on Sunday. The Eagles would like to test that early and often though, and rookie defensive tackle Jordan Davis is someone who could make life difficult for Mahomes. No quarterback likes pressure right up the middle, and if Mahomes has to put pressure on his ankle to get away, Davis and the Philadelphia defensive line could feast.
Everyone is going to analyze the Super Bowl from an offensive and defensive perspective, which makes a lot of sense. However, don’t be surprised if a game between two evenly matched rosters comes down to special teams.
That’s an area where Chiefs rookie Skyy Moore has a chance to make a difference. During the waning moments of the fourth quarter against Cincinnati, he returned a punt 29 yards to give Kansas City excellent field position on what would end up being their final drive. That yardage made a huge difference, as the Chiefs were able to attempt a field goal that would send them to the Super Bowl.
It’s going to be interesting to watch Philadelphia’s special teams unit, to observe whether they feel comfortable giving Moore a chance to do damage against them during the Super Bowl.