The Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6) have a daunting task ahead as the team hits the road to take on Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and the Kansas City Chiefs (6-2).
The Jaguars have some renewed confidence after coming off of a massive comeback victory over the Las Vegas Raiders, however the Chiefs pose an entirely different challenge. To learn more about Kansas City, we spoke with Tom Childs of Arrowhead Pride — SB Nation’s excellent source for the Chiefs.
Tom answers questions about what the Chiefs need to improve upon, how the Jaguars can attempt to neutralize Mahomes and Kelce, who is most responsible for the Chiefs’ sustained success and more.
1. So far in the 2022 season, the Chiefs are 6-2 and coming off of an overtime win versus the Tennessee Titans. What has gone well for Kansas City thus far? What does the team need to improve upon?
Tom: Running the football. They’re just not very good at it.
Despite having an offensive line that many class as one of the league’s best, the Chiefs simply cannot move the ball on the ground — well unless Patrick Mahomes is running it.
Against the Titans, the Chiefs had to abandon the run because it wasn’t working. And as much as I love watching Mahomes throw the ball, asking him to sling it 68 times isn’t a sustainable way to win football games.
The hope is that the Chiefs will figure this problem out before January. If they don’t, then the playoffs could be very short-lived.
2. What can the Jaguars do to stop quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce? Are there any other offensive players you expect to make an impact on Sunday?
Tom: The million-dollar question. I’ve had to answer this a few times this season and so I’ll give the answer I always do: I don’t think you can. The smart teams seemed to have worked out that perhaps it is better to blanket the other guys and therefore make the Chiefs as one-dimensional as possible. But even in those instances, it is hard to stop the Chiefs’ offense because Kelce and Mahomes are just that good.
Another guy that the Jags would be wise to key on is JuJu Smith-Schuster. Surprisingly JuJu didn’t have many suitors in the offseason despite his relatively low asking price. Well, he fooled them because he looks like a player revitalized by a change in surroundings. I mean, it must be kind of a relief to go from Big Ben’s (Roethlisberger) corpse throwing you a football to the best quarterback in the league slinging you the rock. But even still, JuJu has surpassed all expectations and now looks like a player that will be getting himself a nice little payday next offseason.
3. Defensively, the Chiefs seem to be strong against the run (102 yards rushing allowed per game, fifth in the NFL), but struggle somewhat against the pass (249.5 passing yards allowed per game, 24th). Why do you think there has been such a stark difference? Are there any under-the-radar players on the defensive unit who Jaguars fans should pay attention to on Sunday?
Tom: I think this says more about the situations the Kansas City offense puts the Kansas City defense in, more than anything. We know that teams feel like they have to put up as many points as possible, hence the passing. That’s not to say that the defense hasn’t struggled — they absolutely have. At times the pass rush has been blunter than a 1,000-year-old sword. There was a report that the Chiefs were looking at your very own Josh Allen as a potential trade candidate. What might have been, eh?
4. What are your expectations for Kansas City by the end of the year? Is it Super Bowl or bust for Andy Reid’s team, or not necessarily?
Tom: With this coach and this quarterback, it is always Super Bowl or bust. The last thing we want as Chiefs fans is for Patrick Mahomes’ career to end up like Aaron Rodgers’ or Peyton Manning’s in Indianapolis. Winning a Super Bowl is nice, but one would not be enough for Mahomes. While he is under center, every single season has to be considered a failure if it doesn’t end in a Lombardi Trophy.
5. In your opinion, who has been most responsible for Kansas City’s sustained success over the past few years and why: head coach Andy Reid, general manager Brett Veach, quarterback Patrick Mahomes or all of the above (or somebody else)?
Tom: It’s got to be Andy Reid, right? The days before him were so dark, so very dark. Since he came to town, everything has changed for this football team. We haven’t had a losing season since 2012. We have made the playoffs every year since 2015. That’s crazy in and of itself for Chiefs fans.
Now don’t get me wrong, Patrick Mahomes has certainly elevated everything, but without Reid, it wouldn’t be possible. We are in the golden age of Chiefs football right now — and it is so much fun.
6. According to the DraftKings Sportsbook, the Chiefs are currently favored by nine points. Will Kansas City cover and what is your final score prediction?
Tom: Once again, I think Vegas has nailed the line selection here as my prediction is right around that mark. The Chiefs rarely cover, but I am going to say they do this weekend. The offense will be looking to jolt into life this weekend after a lifeless performance against the Titans. On the other side, I do think the Jags will be fine moving the ball but the (defensive coordinator Steve) Spagnuolo Special is bend don’t break — a tactic that I hope will limit the Jags’ scoring output.
Chiefs 34, Jags 16.
A big thank you to Tom for previewing the matchup with us and providing his expertise. For more on the Chiefs, head to Twitter to follow Tom and Arrowhead Pride.