Eavesdropping on the Enemy

It's time again for our spy report. Each week this season I go undercover and spy on the opposing fans of each Chiefs opponent. I believe the fans are the true experts on the strengths and weaknesses of their team. Each week I'll attempt to find out how they view the upcoming game, how their offense will fare against the Chiefs defense and how their defense will fare against the Chiefs offense.

This week the Chiefs finish their regular season by hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars. When the schedule first came out, many fans, prognosticators and experts viewed this game as one that would have huge playoff implications. However, both teams have taken similar paths in December. After winning a huge matchup against a division rival, both teams went on losing streaks to put their playoff hopes on life support.

The Chiefs lost three straight games after beating Denver on Thanksgiving night. The Jaguars have lost two straight after blowing out their archrival, the Indianapolis Colts. Those December meltdowns have turned the playoff implications of this game to minute at best. The playoff hopes of the two teams are almost exactly the same. Both must win this game and hope for losses by the Bengals and the Titans. They both also need heavy underdogs to pull a huge upset on the road against a team that goes to the playoffs with a win. The Chiefs need the 49ers to beat the Broncos. The Jaguars need the Raiders to beat the Jets.

This week I spied on Jaguars fans from one message board: The Jaguars at http://mb.jaguars.com/Forum6-1.aspx. Jaguars fans are frustrated with David Garrard, their backup quarterback, who is starting in place of injured Byron Leftwich. However, they are very confident in their defenses ability to shut down Larry Johnson and the Chiefs offense.

Jaguars Offense vs. Chiefs Defense

"It won't be easy at all and it's going to be a very close game, but if we show up to play on both sides of the field and most importantly, don't turn it over, then we'll be in pretty good shape. It's hopeful thinking, but this is far from the almost-unwinnable game that many have made it out to be." zalomar12 – The Jaguars

"If Garrard can keep it to under 3 turnovers, we can do it." catattack78 – The Jaguars

"The key to this game is turnovers. Protect the ball and limit mistakes and we win. Play like we have been lately and there is no chance. My glass is half full. We can win!!!!!" fargin – The Jaguars

"I watch the Chiefs every week and I can tell you that they are very beatable on Sunday. Run the ball right up the middle and the Jaguars can put 200 plus yards on them on the ground." RP_McMurphy – The Jaguars

The Spy's analysis

The Chiefs defense needs to contain Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor (if he is healthy enough to play). Jones-Drew is an explosive running back who has the ability to take any run to the house. The Chiefs run defense has been very suspect the last four games. The key to the Chiefs ability to win this game is containing the running game. If they can contain the running game, the Chiefs resurgent defensive ends (Jared Allen and Tamba Hali) should be able to get pressure on Garrard and possibly force some turnovers.

Jaguars Defense vs. Chiefs Offense

"I think the Jags will without a doubt shutdown the run this week. I'm actually a little worried that the Chiefs might use the same gamelan the Pats did and throw a bunch of passes underneath. That seems the way to beat our defense, Houston does that to us a lot." TealTime – The Jaguars

"LJ can get all the carries he wants, but sooner or later, they'll have to be passing the ball if they want to win. I would be surprised if they just run it enough, even if they're not running well, just to get him the record." zalomar12 – The Jaguars

"LJ needs 27 carries to break the record for attempts in a season. The current record is 410 and held by Jamal Anderson. Anderson broke James Wilder's record of 407 in 1998.

Too bad for LJ, because no one gets 27 carries against our D." su heroe – The Jaguars

"Offensively take LJ out of the game and force Trent Green to pass. He has medical clearance to play but frankly he isn't the same quarterback since getting jacked up by the Bengals. He plays scared and you can see it in his throws. He was scared against the Ravens and the Jaguars are just as good a defense as the Ravens. Hit him and hit him often and the throws will be off target quickly." RP_McMurphy – The Jaguars

The Spy's Analysis

The Chiefs offense needs to approach this game with an attack mentality and some swagger. This season, when facing a very good defense the Chiefs have been very conservative and passive, seeking to play a field position game. Those opponents were San Diego twice, Denver twice, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Miami. That approach for Kansas City has netted them a 2-5 record in those games.

The Chiefs can and should be a team that relies on running the football. The Jaguars are a team that is stout against the run, especially in the middle. This is a game to set up the power running. Early in the game the approach should be to use a short passing game, screens, runs to the outside, draws and play action passing downfield to loosen up the defense. This approach will also wear on Jacksonville's front four. That will enable Larry Johnson to attack the middle of that defense in the second half.

The Spy's Summary

Playoff hopes are faint, very faint. I put the probability of all four games involved in the Chiefs playoff scenario going the Chiefs way at around five percent. Even with that, five percent is better than zero percent. The Chiefs need to bring the passion they've displayed in their five previous arrowhead wins. The crowd needs to bring a playoff atmosphere to energize the Chiefs and cause problems for the Jaguars. It would be fitting for Chiefs fans to have a reason to stay in their seats, rooting on the 49ers over the Broncos on the JumboTron, after a Chiefs victory on Sunday.

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