Chiefs vs. Jaguars, Week 5: Key matchups to watch
By David Thomas
Top dog versus top dog, the unstoppable force versus the immovable object. The battle for the top of the AFC happens this Sunday between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Jacksonville Jaguars in Kansas City.
We’ve all heard the excuses by now: “The Chiefs haven’t taken on a real defense yet, and someone is going to figure them out.” Well if there was ever a week to see the Chiefs to take on a “real” defense, this would be it.
The Jacksonville Jaguars currently rank 1st in both total yards and points allowed through 4 weeks of the season. They’ve got two of the best young corners in the NFL in Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Their front 4 isn’t anything to laugh at either being led by all-pros Calais Campbell and Marcell Dareus.
On the opposite side of the field, the Jaguars defense has been far less impressive. They’ve fallen to just 22nd in points per game, and depending on who you ask may be the worst offense the Chiefs have faced yet this season. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable. They’ve already score 30+ points twice this season, and Blake Bortles is already on pace to have a career year in completion percentage and passer rating.
Chiefs fans have had this matchup circled since before the season, and it’s almost time to go. So let’s get going and dive into this week’s top matchups.
Tyreek Hill vs. Jalen Ramsey
Top dog vs top dog in a battle for the alpha spot is going down this week. With Hill saying Ramsey is “…all right, I guess.” after Ramsey said he was eager to face him. Hill is currently 4th in the NFL in yards per route run, and 2nd in passer rating when targeted. Meanwhile Ramsey is 22nd in yards per coverage snap, and 28th in NFL passer rating allowed.
Overall the Jaguars currently rank 1st in fewest passing yards allowed, but curiously rank 23rd in yards per game allowed to No. 1 receivers allowing 80.6 ypg. Something must be going on. Well, the 23rd ranking may have something with Ramsey struggling slightly his third season, at least when compared to his norm. He’s allowing nearly 10% more catches into his coverage, and has three missed tackles already on this season.
Ramsey mentioned in an interview with NFL Network that he expects to press Hill at the line, and that might just be his downfall. The Jaguars have left Ramsey on an island with receivers before as he last lined up against Odell Beckham back in Week 1. Beckham was targeted 7 times against Ramsey and caught 5 of those targets for 75 yards. Unless Ramsey is finally able to find his groove in Week 5 this matchup should favor Hill.
My prediction: 5 targets for 3 catches, 60 yards, 1TD for Hill against Ramsey.
Dee Ford vs. Josh Wells
Can I just take a second to mention how well Dee Ford has been playing this season? I understand it’s a contract year for him and all, but boy have I been impressed. The man has been on fire this season being ranked as the 10th best pass rusher among edge defenders with 3 sacks and 22 total pressures (2nd in NFL). Only Khalil Mack has more pressures from the edge position in the entire NFL.
He doesn’t rank quite as well against the run, as he’s only ranked T-7th in run stop percentage at 6.3% (tied with Von Miller). He’s missed 0 tackles in run support so overall still not too shabby for the 5th year pro.
His main opponent this weekend will be left tackle Josh Wells who took over the left tackle position from 2017 2nd round pick Cam Robinson. Wells originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2014, and has played absolutely far beyond expectations. So far in 3 games as the starter he’s pitched 2 shutouts, and earned a near perfect pass blocking grade against the Jets.
Ford will be key in securing a 5-0 record for the Chiefs, and he may be facing his toughest opponent of the season so far in this matchup.
My prediction: .5 sack and 5 total pressures for Dee Ford against Josh Wells.
T.J. Yeldon vs. Chiefs run defense
It’s no secret that the Chiefs have had a hard time stopping the pass allowing 328.5 pass yards per game (2nd worst in the NFL). They’re also the 5th worst rushing defense allowing 123.3 rush yards per game (5th worst), and that’s while also facing the 6 fewest attempts in the league.
The Jaguars offense is 15th in rushing attempts, and 13th in rushing yards averaging 113.5 yards per game. Typical starter Leonard Fournette has been battling injuries this season, and will be out for this upcoming weekend. So 4th year pro Yeldon will be the focus of the Jaguars rushing attack.
What has made the Chiefs run defense so porous is not necessarily on the defensive line, but on the backend of the defense. They rank 17th and 18th against power runs (70% failure) and in stuffed percentage (18%) respectively, but rank 32nd and 29th in 2nd level (1.82) and open field (1.16) yards per carry by Football Outsiders.
The culprits are linebacker Anthony Hitchens and safety Eric Murray who rank 37th and 39th respectively in run stoppage for their position. They rank lowest among their teammates at their respective positions.
Should the Jaguars defense be able to slow down the juggernaut Chiefs offense the run game will be key in keeping the Chiefs off the field.
My prediction: 24 carries for 108 yards and 1 TD on the ground for T.J. Yeldon
Week 4 prediction recap:
Mitchell Schwartz vs. Von Miller
My prediction: 2 pressures 1 sack given up by Schwartz to Miller
Reality: 1 hurry given to Miller
Orlando Scandrick vs. Broncos receivers
My prediction: 2 receptions for 21 yards allowed, 0 TDs allowed, and 1 INT on Scandrick
Reality: 4 receptions on 7 targets for 33 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 1 pass block on Scandrick
Justin Houston vs. Jared Veldheer
My prediction: 1.5 sacks and 5 defensive stops for Justin Houston
Reality: 1 sack, 1 defensive stop for Houston
Thanks for reading! I really hope you enjoy this. If you have any suggestions for future matchups or other topics you’d like me to tackle. Hit me up over at dt.sports.now(at)gmail.com or over on twitter @DavidThomasAA. And in case you noticed, yes I did change my twitter handle.