The Kansas City Chiefs’ chances of coming away from Jacksonville with a win in Week 1 may seem pretty good, but in the NFL, there’s no such thing as a guaranteed win.
Remember, even the worst players on the field are still better than any of us could ever hope to be. They’re still professionals, and they still have pride.
Jacksonville may not be the best team in the NFL (understatement),but don’t expect the Jags to roll over for the Chiefs come Sunday.
This will be a game, and Kansas City is still going to have to execute at a high level to win this matchup.
There has been much talk about the Chiefs’ offense this offseason, and the hype surrounding that unit has been warranted. New head coach Andy Reid is an offensive-minded guy, and new signal-caller Alex Smith is a huge step up at the quarterback position.
While the focus of the weeks and days leading up to opening kickoff has been on the offense, it’s my belief that Kansas City’s X-factor will be on defense.
In fact, he’ll be right in the middle of everything.
Looking at what the Jaguars have to offer—keeping in mind that Justin Blackmon is suspended and Marcedes Lewis will be out with an injury—the biggest threat Jacksonville has is at running back. When healthy, Maurice Jones-Drew is one of the best in the league, and all indications are that he’s ready to go.
If the Jaguars were to win on Sunday, it would be because MJD put the team on his shoulders and carried them to a victory.
While the defense as a whole will have to step up and stop him from doing so, nose tackle Donatri Poe may be able to have the biggest impact in that regard.
Unlike in a traditional 3-4 defense, Bob Sutton isn’t asking Poe to simply be a big body and take up space in an effort to free up the linebackers. While fundamentally, the 3-4 still allows that to happen, Sutton has implemented a much more aggressive scheme which asks the three down-linemen to shoot the gap and get into the backfield.
Poe, at 6’3”, 340-something is the perfect athlete to shine in that role.
He’s big enough to blow back the line of scrimmage and break through double teams, but he’s also slimmed down and has some good quickness and agility to him.
Stopping Jones-Drew is going to start by moving back that line of scrimmage and getting into the backfield, and if there’s a player on this Chiefs team who can do just that, it’s Poe. If Poe can get to Jones-Drew before he’s able to pick up some steam and get through the hole, it’s going to be a long day for Jacksonville.
The Jags’ passing game shouldn’t have much to work with, and Kansas City looks to have the advantage on both offense and special teams.
The only place Jacksonville could claim equality is at running back, and Poe has the ability to shut that down.