PHILADELPHIA – Super Bowl 57’s matchup is finally set, the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles prevailing in Sunday’s conference championships and advancing to Super Sunday.
The final game of the 2022 NFL season promises to deliver some rich subplots while featuring two of the league’s biggest stars, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and TE Travis Kelce, against an Eagles squad that arrives with fewer name-brand players but probably a more-balanced roster – perhaps why Philly has been slotted as the early favorite.
We’ll have two weeks to dissect the matchup ad nauseam but, for the moment, here are the 32 things we learned from this season’s conference championships:
1. The Chiefs will make their fifth Super Bowl appearance (and third in the past four seasons). They’ve won it twice.
2. The Eagles will make their fourth Super Bowl appearance (and second in the past six seasons). They’ve won it once.
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3. Super Bowl 57 will be the first matchup of top-seeded participants since the Eagles and New England Patriots met in Super Bowl 52 following the 2017 season.
4. Overall, Super Bowl 57 will be the 14th Super Sunday matchup pairing No. 1 seeds since 1975, when the NFL first seeded its playoff fields.
5. No top-seeded team has won the game since those 2017 Eagles.
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6. All-Pro Philadelphia C Jason Kelce and All-Pro Kansas City TE Travis Kelce will become the first brothers to oppose one another in a Super Bowl.
7. Travis Kelce made a bit more history Sunday. He now owns the second-most receiving yards (1,467) in playoff history. He was already second on the receptions leaderboard (127). Both are postseason records for tight ends and trail only Hall of Famer Jerry Rice overall.
8. Kelce also scored Sunday, giving him 15 TD catches in his playoff career. He’s tied with Rob Gronkowski for the most among tight ends and trails only Rice (22) overall.
9. Kelce and Mahomes have now teamed up for 13 playoff TDs. Only Gronkowski and Tom Brady (15) have more.
10. The Chiefs’ Andy Reid will become the first head coach to face a team he previously coached in the Super Bowl since the Seattle Seahawks’ Pete Carroll lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl 49.
11. Prior to Reid, who coached in Philadelphia for 14 seasons, the last coach to face a team he’d previously led to the Super Bowl was the Atlanta Falcons’ Dan Reeves, who lost to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 33.
12. Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts posted his 15th rushing TD of the season Sunday, setting a new record for quarterbacks in one season (including playoffs). Cam Newton held the previous mark (14 in 2011, all regular season).
13. Philadelphia’s Miles Sanders became the first running back to rush for multiple TDs in a game against the San Francisco 49ers’ top-ranked defense this season.
14. Since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, the Eagles are the fifth team to go into the Super Bowl after winning their previous two games by 21+ points. Their four predecessors all hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.
15. “Burrowhead?” What’s that now?
16. Sunday was Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow’s first playoff loss on the road after a 3-0 start, his only other postseason setback coming at what was technically a neutral site (SoFi Stadium) in Super Bowl 56.
17. Burrow’s five playoff wins represent half of Cincinnati’s total in the franchise’s 55-season history.
18. Mahomes is now 10-3 in his postseason career. He’s been the victorious quarterback in more than half of Kansas City’s 19 playoff wins in the organization’s 63 seasons.
19. The first fumble of 49ers rookie QB Brock Purdy’s career was quite the eventful play as he also injured his throwing elbow while being strip-sacked by Eagles LB Haason Reddick. With Purdy and backup Josh Johnson (concussion) injured, San Francisco finished with 69 net passing yards.
20. The Eagles’ leading rusher in both playoff games this season? Not Hurts. Not Sanders. Try Kenneth Gainwell, who ran for 48 yards Sunday after a 112-yard effort in the divisional round.
21. San Francisco did not allow a 100-yard rusher all season, though Philadelphia’s 148 yards on the ground Sunday were the second most allowed by the Niners during the 2022 campaign.
22. For the second time in the past three seasons, the league’s No. 1 offensive team reached the Super Bowl. In both instances, that was Kansas City, which lost Super Bowl 55 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
23. Reid will become the ninth man in NFL history to serve as head coach in four Super Bowls.
24. Reid’s 21st postseason win gave him sole possession of second place in league annals as he broke a tie with Hall of Famer Tom Landry. Only Bill Belichick (31) has more.
25. However, Reid is the only NFL coach ever with at least 10 playoff wins with two different franchises.
26. Reid’s 37 playoff appearances now trail only Belichick (44).
27. Sunday marked Chiefs All-Pro DT Chris Jones’ 14th playoff appearance. His two sacks of Burrow were the first of his postseason career. Jones has 56½ regular-season sacks over the past five seasons, including 15½ in 2022.
28. Before there were “GOATs”, a la Mahomes, there were goats, a la Earnest Byner, whose infamous fumble in the 1987 AFC championship game cost the Cleveland Browns their (still-awaited) first Super Bowl trip. Will Bengals DE Joseph Ossai be forever regarded in the latter goat category after his late hit on Mahomes set up K.C.’s game-winning field goal Sunday? Time will tell, but let’s hope, for Ossai’s sake, that his career is as long and prosperous as Byner’s.
29. As many times as Burrow has been sacked in his three-year career, 153 when including playoffs, Sunday was the first time he’d ever been taken down on three consecutive dropbacks.
30. Sunday’s four starting quarterbacks (Burrow, Hurts, Mahomes and Purdy) represented the youngest quartet in the conference championship round since the merger, averaging 25 years and 98 days old.
31. Super Bowl 57 will be the fourth played in Arizona and third in the Cardinals’ State Farm Stadium. The past two games in the venue – New England’s Super Bowl 49 win over Seattle and the New York Giants’ upset of the previously unbeaten Patriots in Super Bowl 42 – are among Super Sunday’s all-time classics. Let’s hope the Chiefs and Eagles provide another in what’s felt, by and large, like a rather dull NFL postseason overall.
32. Last, but most certainly not least heading into Black History Month, Super Bowl 57 will also hail the first matchup of two Black quarterbacks – Mahomes, Super Bowl 54’s MVP, set to face Hurts. Obviously, it’s a noteworthy achievement – especially so as it will occur 35 years after Washington’s Doug Williams became the first Black quarterback to win the Super Bowl and be named the game’s MVP. Maybe, just maybe, we’ve now reached a point when we can discuss quarterbacks simply on their merits – and good luck finding one with a better start to his career than Mahomes – without having to note the color of their skin.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.