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Kansas City Chiefs vs Jacksonville Jaguars: Week One Keys to Game

What are the keys to a victory for the Chiefs in Week One?

Photo courtesy of AP

Last season, the Chiefs and Jaguars had very dissimilar seasons. After making the AFC Championship Game in 2017, the Jaguars took a major step back, finishing 5-11 last season. Meanwhile, Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs to a historic offensive season, as they were a few plays shy of a Super Bowl appearance. 

Last season when the two teams met, the Jaguars held Mahomes in check. He rushed for a touchdown but failed to have a single passing touchdown. However, the Jaguars inept offense struggled, and the Chiefs went on to win 30-14. 

But with two completely different teams in 2019, what are some of the keys for the Chiefs to pick up where they left off last season?

Rushing Attack

Although the Jaguars struggled last season, their defense should still be one of the best in the league. They were the only team last season to hold Mahomes to no passing touchdowns in a game. Last year, the Chiefs had Kareem Hunt to carry them offensively against the Jaguars. This year, the task will be up to a committee of Damien Williams, LeSean McCoy and perhaps Darwin Thompson. 

The Jaguars’ secondary is a formidable group, led by cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. If the Chiefs can establish the run and keep the Jaguars’ defense on its heels, Mahomes will have a much better chance to be effective in the passing game. 

Covering the Slot

The Jaguars not only added Nick Foles at quarterback, but Sunday will also be the Jacksonville debut of new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo. Last season, DeFilippo was the offensive coordinator for the Vikings, and his slot receiver was Adam Thielen, who was targeted 153 times (second-most in NFL for slot receiver). Dede Westbrook may not be Thielen, but he certainly is the Jaguars’ most dangerous weapon, as well as a great route-runner. I expect DeFilippo to throw his way a lot this year.

Chiefs cornerback Kendall Fuller will likely draw Westbrook on most snaps. According to Pro Football Focus, he was the 29th-best cornerback in the NFL in 2018. He had bright spots last season, but the Chiefs will look for him to take the next step, starting Week One against Westbrook. This could be the matchup of the game (Yes, a game in which Ramsey is shadowing Tyreek Hill).  

Pass Rush

This one is simple. Adding Frank Clark helps the Chiefs but losing both Justin Houston and Dee Ford, who combined for 22 sacks last season, doesn’t. Chris Jones was third in the NFL with 15.5 sacks, so the combination of Jones and Clark should suffice for the Chiefs. I’m interested to see what this new-look pass rush for the Chiefs looks like. 

Prediction: Chiefs 27 Jaguars 20

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