A few minutes after the Kansas City Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes landed in Phoenix, the pilot hung a “Chiefs Kingdom” flag out of the window as players, coaches, and staff got off the plane and walked across the runway.
About an hour later, it was the Philadelphia Eagles who arrived in Arizona, with an “It’s a Philly Thing” flag fluttering in the runway as quarterback Jalen Hurts, coach Nick Sirianni, and others made their way to a fleet of buses.
Super Bowl 57 is just one week away. The Chiefs will face the Eagles a week from Sunday in Glendale, Ariz.
Both teams landed at Goldwater Air National Guard Base in ideal Phoenix winter weather — bright sunshine and temperatures in the low 70s. Team personnel occasionally stopped to take pictures and videos on the runway.
Former Chiefs star Christian Okoye was on hand to pass out hats to Kansas City’s players as they got off the plane. The former star running back lives in Southern California and made the short trip to Phoenix.
Oddsmakers are expecting a good game, giving the Eagles a slight edge. Philadelphia opened as a 1½-point favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
The Chiefs advanced to their third Super Bowl in four seasons when Harrison Butker made a 45-yard field goal with 3 seconds left to push Kansas City past the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20, in the AFC championship game last weekend.
The Eagles routed the San Francisco 49ers, 31-7, in the NFC title game. They’ve looked dominant in the playoffs so far, also beating the New York Giants, 38-7. Philadelphia is back in the Super Bowl five years after beating the Patriots.
The teams will both take part in the “Super Bowl LVII Opening Night” on Monday in downtown Phoenix, where all the players and coaches from both teams are available for the annual media extravaganza.
Then it’s down to business. The Chiefs will practice throughout the week at Arizona State’s football facilities while the Eagles will do their preparation at the Arizona Cardinals’ practice facility.
There are no shortage of storylines: Kansas City coach Andy Reid goes against his former team — which he led to Super Bowl 39 — in a game that’s also the first matchup of Black starting quarterbacks in the Super Bowl with Mahomes and Hurts.
There’s also a brother-against-brother showdown between Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Philadelphia center Jason Kelce.
NFC wins reimagined Pro Bowl
Kirk Cousins threw three touchdowns passes Sunday in Las Vegas to rally the NFC to a 35-33 victory over the AFC in the Pro Bowl Games and end that conference’s five-game losing streak.
Cousins completed 15 of 19 passes for 150 yards in the third and final flag football game of the NFL’s reformatted all-star game, which gave the NFC the victory. His AFC counterpart, Derek Carr, was 6 of 12 for 104 yards, two TDs and an interception.
Based on the earlier flag games and skills competitions, the AFC took a 21-15 lead into the final flag game. The Pro Bowl changed its format this season, eliminating the traditional game and replacing it with three flag football games played on a 50-yard field and a series of skills competitions.
Each of the first two flag games were worth six points and each skills event was three. The total points were accumulated to form the score entering the third and final flag game.
Part of the reason for the change is that tackling became nearly non-existent in recent years because players were concerned about injuries. The Cleveland Browns, however, announced defensive end Myles Garrett dislocated a toe Sunday, but X-rays were negative.
The announced crowd of 58,331 was more than 2,000 more than last year, also played at Allegiant Stadium. No site has been announced for next year’s Pro Bowl, but it’s unlikely the NFL will want that event to be played in the same venue just before the Super Bowl, which will be in Las Vegas.
The AFC, based on Thursday’s four skills competitions, took a 9-3 lead into Sunday. Then the NFC tied it by winning the first flag game, 33-27. Seattle’s Geno Smith completed 14 of 16 passes for 239 yards and five touchdowns. The AFC’s Tyler Huntley was 15 of 20 for 192 yards and four TDs. The AFC won the second flag game when Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence converted a fourth-and-20 with a 45-yard touchdown pass to Buffalo’s Stefon Diggs with 2 minutes left.
Carolina chooses Denver DC Ejiro Evero
The Carolina Panthers have agreed to terms with Ejiro Evero to be their new defensive coordinator. The 42-year-old was the Denver Broncos defensive coordinator last season and was one of nine candidates to interview for the Panthers head coaching position before owner David Tepper hired Frank Reich. The Broncos ranked seventh in the league in total defense in 2022 under Evero and were 14th in points allowed.