Game Snapshot: Chiefs/Jaguars

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET GAMEDATE: 1/21/06 SURFACE: Grass TV: CBS, Gus Johnson, Steve Tasker

2006 RANKINGS: Jaguars: offense 10th (2nd rush, 26th pass); defense 2nd (3rd rush, 11th pass). Chiefs: offense 16th (8th rush, 21st pass); defense 15th (18th rush, 14th pass)

PREDICTION:
Chiefs, 20-13

KEYS TO THE GAME:
The loser is done for the season. Even the winner needs significant help to reach the postseason. The offense that best takes advantage of its strong ground game is most likely to hold onto its slim playoff aspirations.

It will be interesting to see how Chiefs RB Larry Johnson fares against the league's No. 3-ranked run defense anchored by the interior duo of DTs John Henderson and Marcus Stroud. The Chiefs could help Johnson by presenting the threat of the pass, but QB Trent Green continues to look a bit off with his timing since returning from a concussion.

The Jaguars are also heavily reliant upon their ground game, and expect to have RB Fred Taylor back in the lineup for a 1-2 punch with rookie Maurice Jones-Drew. The difference could be the play of QB David Garrard, who has more big-play ability at his fingertips than Green, but he's also far more prone to game-changing turnovers.

FAST FACTS:
Jaguars: Are 22-5 (.815) under coach Jack Del Rio when scoring first. Garrard has a 91.3 passer rating in his past six road starts. Chiefs: Johnson already has a single-season Chiefs record 383 carries, breaking Christian Okoye's record of 370. Johnson's 44 career rushing touchdowns is tied with Marcus Allen for second-most in franchise history behind Priest Holmes' 76.

PERSONNEL NEWS:


Jaguars:


--RB Fred Taylor practiced for the second consecutive day Thursday and says he'll be ready to play against the Chiefs. He's probable with a hamstring injury that limited him to two carries the past 2 1/2 games.

--RB Maurice Jones-Drew, who's probable with a knee injury, practiced Thursday and should be ready to play. He needs 105 yards to reach 1,000 yards.

--CB Ahmad Carroll was put on the injury list as probable with an undisclosed illness. He didn't practice Thursday.

--CB Rashean Mathis was taken off the injury list after he recovered from an undisclosed illness. He practiced Thursday.

--DT Marcus Stroud, who's probable with an ankle injury, didn't practice Thursday, but he's been taking a day off every week.

Chiefs:


--G Will Shields might well be playing the final game of his prospective Hall of Fame career Sunday, though he certainly isn't saying that. After starting a club-record 223 consecutive games since his rookie season in 1993, the 35-year-old Shields shed no light on his plans Thursday. "I'm just preparing to play Jacksonville. Whatever happens after that remains to be seen."

--TE Tony Gonzalez, whose contract is up after this season, also might be playing his final game as a Chief. Though Chiefs president Carl Peterson has indicated that he will not let Gonzalez go, he'll either have to ante up big or consider using the franchise-player protection he doesn't want to invoke to keep Gonzalez, who has said repeatedly that contending for a championship is the most important thing to him at this point of his career.

--TE Jason Dunn, a key component of Kansas City's blocking unit, did not work Thursday while nursing a sore back. The Chiefs continue to list him as probable.

--RB Michael Bennett, the backup to Larry Johnson, remains questionable for Sunday with an ankle injury. Bennett also missed last week's win in Oakland and had no carries the previous week in San Diego, meaning Johnson had to do almost all the running work himself. Third-team RB Dee Brown has had five carries in the two games in which Bennett did not play.

--T Kyle Turley, who is battling a shoulder injury, has been ruled out of Sunday's regular-season finale and may have played his last game as a Chief. Turley has not played in eight of 15 games this year in his attempted comeback from a back injury that kept him out of football for two years.

INSIDE THE CAMPS:


Jaguars:


Fred Taylor is right back to where he was last season. He wants a new contract. Last year, the Jaguars wouldn't give him one when he had two years left on his old deal. Now he has one year left, and he thinks he's earned an extension.

Taylor, who is under contract for the 2007 season at a $2.55 million base salary, said Thursday he wants a contract extension in the $5 million range. Although $5 million is the average salary for the 10 highest-paid running backs, the Jaguars haven't indicated if they plan to negotiate with Taylor.

His injury history may make them leery of making a big investment in him. Taylor, 30, feels his comeback from knee and ankle injuries that limited him to 11 games last year to becoming a Pro Bowl alternate this year should earn him a new deal.

But Taylor was limited to two carries the last 2 1/2 games with a hamstring injury, although he said it wasn't a major injury and added that he's set to play against the Chiefs.

"My thing is to finish strong so there won't be any question marks out there," he said.

Noting the Jaguars have given new deals to other players with a year left on their contracts, he said, "Why not me? I think I'm a high enough caliber player so I should be treated the same way."

Taylor said he wouldn't be happy if the Jaguars want him to play out the final season of his contract.

As a last resort if he doesn't get a new deal, he said, "I'd ask to be traded or something. I don't think I want to try and play that out."

Chiefs:


If Chiefs running back Larry Johnson gets 28 carries in Sunday's regular-season finale against Jacksonville, a figure he's equaled or bettered on seven occasions already this season, he would pass the NFL single-season record for rushing attempts. Atlanta's Jamal Anderson set the mark of 410 in 1998.

It is, Johnson says, a record an NFL back hardly cherishes. It means, among other things, that he's been pounded a lot, which can translate into a diminished career in terms of longevity. It remains to be seen whether Johnson, the Chiefs' offensive workhorse of the past 1 1/2 seasons, can stand the test of time, but the early returns are positive.

Since replacing Priest Holmes and becoming Kansas City's starter on Nov. 6, 2005, Johnson has carried 27 or more times in 15 of his 24 starts. He insists that he still feels good after 383 rushes (for 1,651 yards) this year.

"That's because you dish out the punishment, you don't take it," he said. "I'm not a small back, so I don't get guys like Shawne Merriman trying to tee off on me on every snap. Being the size that I am (6-foot-1, 230 pounds), a lot of times you get tacklers that shy away from you because they know it will hurt them more than it hurts me."

Beyond that, Johnson has yet to take years of pounding. He wasn't a full-time starter at Penn State until his senior year. He spent the first 2 1/2 seasons of his four-year NFL career as a little-used backup to Priest Holmes.

"When you're a kid, 19 or 20 years old, you want it all," he said. "Looking back on it now, you kind of appreciate the fact that you're coming in to the league a lot fresher than most backs. Most backs right out of college already have three or four nagging injuries. I was blessed to come out of college and into the NFL with a clean slate."

How long he can continue to take that kind of pounding remains to be seen, but coach Herm Edwards notes that Johnson already has earned the badge of courage that nearly 400 carries has earned him.

"You have to be available as a running back every game," Edwards said. "It's quite a task in this league, especially when you're carrying the ball as much as he's carrying it. When you're a very good runner, people key on you every week. To carry the ball that many times shows his mental toughness and his resilience coming back when he's nicked."

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