How the Kansas City Chiefs can beat the Jacksonville Jaguars

Previewing the Kansas City Chiefs Week 2 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Jan 21, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) meets
Jan 21, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) meets / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs aim to bounce back in Week 2 in Jacksonville against the Jaguars. The vibes are much better this weekend as both tight end Travis Kelce and defensive lineman Chris Jones are expected to play today after missing Week 1.

Kansas City is in an unfamiliar position as they're 0-1 for the first time since 2014, including the first time in the Patrick Mahomes era. Improving to 1-1 won't be easy as the Jaguars are one of the better teams in the NFL. They have one of the better head coach-quarterback combinations in the NFL. Trevor Lawrence is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, while Doug Pederson, a former offensive coordinator for the Chiefs from 2013 through 2015, is one of the most underrated coaches in the NFL.

On defense, Steve Spagnuolo needs to focus on limiting Jacksonville's passing attack. In Week 1 against the Colts, Lawrence was 3-of-3 for 68 yards, 1 touchdown, and a perfect 158.3 passer rating on deep throws (20+ yards past the LOS). All three completions went to three different pass catchers (Calvin Ridley, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram). Ridley was a monster in training camp and had a strong opening game after being suspended for the 2022 season.

After a rough 1.5 years to begin his career, Lawrence has been nothing short of elite since. Since Week 8 of last year, he has a passer rating of 98.0 and an adjusted completion % of 78.5%. After Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow, Lawrence could be the third-best quarterback in the NFL, though that may be a little rich for many people.

Where the Jaguars can be exploited is their offensive line. Their starting left tackle Cam Robinson is suspended for the first six games of the season. Starting right guard Brandon Scherff left last Sunday's game early due to an ankle injury. Scherff and starting center Luke Fortner both did not practice on Wednesday but did in a limited capacity on Thursday and Friday. Both players were officially listed as questionable.

Against Indianapolis, the Jacksonville offense line was abused all game long in the run game. The interior of their line was also not great in pass protection. Since the Chiefs struggle to generate pressure from the interior, this needs to be a Chris Jones game. Although he may be a little rusty and may not see a heavy workload due to his extended holdout.

What is your score prediction for Chiefs vs. Jaguars?

The Chiefs have a solid secondary and it needs to have a strong game against a great Jaguars receiving core. If not, Kansas City will likely need to score at least 30 points to win this game.

On the other side of the ball, the game plan is pretty simple: The wide receivers need to catch the football. Depending on the source and one's definition of a drop, the Kansas City receivers had anywhere from three to nine drops against the Lions. That's unacceptable. Besides catching the football, the Chiefs need to protect Mahomes from Jacksonville's edge rushers. Although it's not the most intimidating group, the Jaguars have talent at defensive end in Josh Allen and Travon Walker, both former Top 10 picks. Even so, the Jaguars don't have a very strong or deep overall pass rush.

Jacksonville's interior defensive line is nothing special, so Kansas City's interior offensive line shouldn't have much trouble. If Donovan Smith and Jawaan Taylor can keep Mahomes clean, the Chiefs should have no issue moving the ball.

Jacksonville has a good but not great secondary that can be exploited. In the two games against the Jaguars last season, Travis Kelce racked up 20 catches, 179 receiving yards, and three touchdowns. Although he's not 100% healthy, Kelce needs to be a significant factor since the Kansas City wide receiver core cannot be trusted yet.

The Chiefs should also try to get Isiah Pacheco going in this game. After recovering from offseason surgery, he didn't get a full training camp and only saw eight carries for 23 yards in the opening game. Last year, the Jaguars were solid against the run but were one of the worst tackling teams in the NFL. In 2022, Pacheco was 17th out of 62 qualified running backs in yards after contact per attempt. Kansas City needs to take advantage of that.

Overall, this will not be an easy game for Kansas City. Jacksonville is one of the best teams in the AFC. A loss today would be a massive dent in the Chiefs' hope of obtaining home-field advantage for the playoffs. As good as Jacksonville is, I have difficulty picturing the Chiefs falling to 0-2. Having both Travis Kelce and Chris Jones returning will be a considerable boost. Coming off a mini-bye and a tough loss, the Chiefs will bounce back in Duval.

Prediction: Chiefs 31, Jaguars 26