KC Chiefs: Four keys to beating the Jacksonville Jaguars
The Kansas City Chiefs now know for sure who their first playoff opponent will be, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Here are four early keys to winning the game.
The Kansas City Chiefs will play the first of what will hopefully be three postseason games this weekend when they begin their playoff run against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Chiefs earned the AFC’s lone first-round bye this season, which meant that they got to sit back and watch the games this weekend like the rest of us. That included viewing the Jaguars remarkable comeback from a 27-point deficit against K.C.’s division rivas, thel Los Angeles Chargers. That victory, combined with close wins by the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals, locked in the Jaguars as K.C.’s opponent in the Divisional Round.
While it was incredibly satisfying to watch the Chargers “Charger” away another game, the Chiefs find themselves facing an opponent with absolutely zero pressure on them. The Jaguars have already exceeded expectations this season and are playing with house money. While the Chiefs are the superior team in this matchup, they also have all the pressure on them to make their one and only goal of a Super Bowl win happen while the Jaguars’ season is already taken as a success.
If the Chiefs are going to overcome that pressure and come away with a win there are four major keys to do so. A couple of the keys to this game are focused on the Chiefs and avoiding certain pitfalls. The other two keys are specific to this matchup with the Jaguars. Let’s start with one that has been an issue for the Chiefs throughout the season.
Keep The Turnover Margin Close
The Chiefs are undeniably one of the best teams in the NFL and a clear Super Bowl favorite. However, when you look at all the numbers that indicate the best teams in the league, there is really only one stat where the Chiefs fall terribly short: turnover differential. The Chiefs finished the regular season with a -3 turnover differential, tied for 22nd in the league.
That mark was worse than teams like the Chicago Bears and Houston Texans who were literally the two worst teams in the NFL this season. To make matters worse, the Chiefs were pretty much equally poor at turning the ball over on offense while not forcing turnovers on defense. K.C. finished tied for 17th in offensive turnovers and tied for 20th in defensive takeaways. Simply put, the turnover battle has been an issue for the Chiefs this season.
As K.C. starts its playoff run, it is vital for the team to not put itself in a situation where it has to overcome a negative turnover differential. Winning in the playoffs is hard enough without having to dig yourself out of a hole like that. The Jags may have inexplicably survived a -5 turnover differential against the Chargers, but that is definitely the exception, not the norm. Plus, if the Jaguars can win a playoff game where they are -5 in turnovers, imagine what they could do if they were on the plus side of the equation in Kansas City.
The Chiefs’ offense is potent enough that they don’t have to be +2 or more in turnovers to win a game. Hence the reason why I didn’t phrase this key to the game as “Winning The Turnover Margin”. The Chiefs just need to keep the differential within one and they should be okay.
Before we get to the final two points that are matchup specific, let’s address the one other weakness for the Chiefs that K.C. needs to make sure doesn’t hurt them in this game.