To put it mildly, don't be surprised if there's a post-play altercation or two this Sunday. I believe there's some bad blood between the Jaguars and Chiefs right now, boiling under the surface like a river of hot lava, just waiting to erupt. Anything could make it blow – a nasty block carried out a few seconds too long after the whistle, a blatant personal foul penalty, or even a cheap shot on someone's quarterback.
In fact, that's the root cause of all this. Last December the Jaguars were beating the Chiefs with their physical brand of football when defensive end Paul Spicer smacked Trent Green with a late hit. Spicer was penalized, but more importantly, the infraction seemed to wake up a slumbering Chiefs offense.
On the next play, Larry Johnson ripped off a 40-yard run. The Chiefs capped the drive with a fourth-and-goal touchdown, and from there the brutal, in-the-trenches style of NFL warfare continued.
By the end of the game, you could tell these two teams didn't like each other very much. When Kansas City drew Jacksonville's defense offsides with a cheap, pre-snap motion ruse late in the fourth quarter, the game was iced, but you could tell the visitors felt disrespected in some way.
Note to Chiefs players and coaches – the Jaguars haven't forgotten that soggy day.
NFL players have memories like elephants. Last week, KC's own Damion McIntosh told Warpaint Illustrated he was looking forward to playing his old team, the San Diego Chargers, who cut him several years ago. Two years ago former Broncos defensive end Trevor Pryce relished a late-season 2005 re-match with Chiefs' guard John Welbourn, whom he hadn't lined up against in over a year. Pryce's grudge against Welbourn stemmed from a 2004 game.
So yes, the Jaguars haven't forgotten, and you can bet head coach Jack Del Rio will be using last year's visit to Arrowhead Stadium as motivation this week.
Here's where things get a little dicey. Jacksonville wasn't great on the road last season, but under Del Rio the Jaguars have 14 wins in their last 25 away games. They've won in places like Indianapolis and, most recently, Denver. At one point in 2005, the Jaguars won three straight road games, back to back to back.
Del Rio has built a power-running football team with a smart, mobile quarterback, a stingy defense and great special teams. They are fully capable of coming into Arrowhead this weekend and upsetting the Chiefs.
Kansas City needs to get just as tough as the Jaguars this weekend. Be honest – these Chiefs have looked a little soft recently. The Vikings' huge offensive line dominated KC's run defense for a half two weeks ago, and in San Diego LaDainian Tomlinson ran behind his road graders for over 100 yards through 30 minutes of play.
With their big offensive line and the dynamic one-two punch of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jaguars will look to do exactly the same thing early this Sunday.
And with the memory of last season's loss in Kansas City fresh in their minds, the Jags will have plenty of motivation.
Remember the last time the Chiefs faced a power-running team that had reason to be angry at them? It was in San Diego last year, and Tomlinson slapped 199 yards on KC's defense. The Chargers had extra motivation after Tamba Hali called them a finesse team early last season.
The Chiefs had better be ready. Metaphorically, the Chiefs need to grow their beards out and rip their sleeves off. That's the old Gunther Cunningham medication for soft football teams.
Hey, I'm not calling the Chiefs soft. But the Jaguars are about as far away from it as you can get, and they'll remind Kansas City of that fact this weekend. It's time to get tough.
Jags Will Test KC's Toughness
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