While quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles are dominating the headlines, let’s not forget about the players they will be throwing the ball to.
Tight end Travis Kelce of the Chiefs and Dallas Goedert of the Eagles are the team leaders in receptions heading into the Super Bowl. According to the Super Bowl predictions, Kelce (+1200) is a distant third behind Hurts and Mahomes in the odds to be named the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player.
The outside receivers are also worth watching as this game has a chance to be a high-scoring affair and that could mean some big plays coming from the pass catchers.
Let’s take a look at the receivers and tight ends set to meet up on Sunday night. The Super Bowl betting lines total has moved slightly from 50 to 51.
Kansas City Chiefs
Kelce is the headliner here as he leads the NFL with 21 receptions and is tied for the lead with three touchdown catches in the playoffs. He is coming off a 14-catch performance in a win over Cincinnati in the AFC Championship. Only the legendary Jerry Rice has more postseason receptions than Kelce. Many of those making Super Bowl bets will be riding with the always-reliable Kelce.
Literally no one:
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) February 2, 2023
Fellow tight ends Noah Gray and Blake Bell also get some work in the passing game.
With the trade of Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins in the offseason, the ball is spread out to different wide receivers. Seven different Chiefs wide receivers had catches in the first two playoff games. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is second to Kelce with seven catches and 122 receiving yards. Kadarius Toney, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Skyy Moore have added 13 more receptions.
One of the few holdovers among the outside receivers is Mecole Hardman. However, he has been ruled out of the Super Bowl. He is not the only ailing receiver for the Chiefs. Toney (ankle) and Justin Watson (illness) are trending in the right direction when it comes to playing on Sunday. Smith-Schuster is questionable with a knee injury.
When it comes to the production of the outside receivers, Philadelphia has a clear advantage.
Both A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith were 1,000-yard receivers during the regular season.
Smith led the team with 95 catches during the 17 regular-season games and finished with 1,196 yards. Brown, acquired from the Tennessee Titans, was the team leader with 1,496 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was a big-play performer with an average of 17 yards per reception.
Brown has been pretty quiet in the postseason and some of that could be due to Hurts’ ailing throwing shoulder. Brown is averaging just 7.1 yards per catch and has come down with only seven of the 14 targets. Smith has been slightly more productive with eight receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown. Quez Watkins, who had 33 catches during the regular season, has none during the postseason while Zach Pascal has caught one pass.
Tight end Dallas Goedert isn’t featured in the passing attack the way Kelce is with the Chiefs. Still, had he not missed five games, he might have also recorded 1,000 yards during the regular season. He leads the Eagles with 11 targets in the two playoff games and has come down with 10 of those so keep an eye on him when making Super Bowl picks. Jack Stoll will occasionally get a chance to make a play as well.
The safeties figure to be busy in pass coverage because of how often the tight ends are featured in the passing game. C.J. Gardner-Johnson did allow passer ratings of 100.0 or higher in six of his 12 regular-season games for the Eagles. This is not the first rodeo for Eagles cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry.
For the Chiefs, rookie cornerbacks Jaylen Watson and Trent McDuffie will be key figures as they try to slow down Brown and Brown on the outside.
Safety Justin Reid allowed 37 catches on 58 targets and had a passer rating of 106.1 during the regular season and a mark of 86.1 in the playoffs, so it bears watching how Reid and the other safeties contend with Goedert.
When it comes to the passing offense, these teams go about things in different ways.
The Eagles want to get Brown, Smith, and Goedert involved and all three of them can make plays down the field. For the Chiefs, Mahomes has no problem throwing the ball to Kelce at nearly every opportunity until the opponent proves that they can match up with the dynamic tight end.
The Chiefs throw the ball more frequently than the Eagles and that could be the case once again, so the showdown between the Kansas City pass catchers and Philadelphia secondary could be the most important matchup in the Super Bowl.
The Super Bowl odds list Kelce at 78½ yards as the number to bet on and the Eagles will take that mark in a second. The numbers for Brown and Smith are 70½ and 62½.
The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.