WHEN THE CHIEFS PASS
Damon Huard is coming off his best outing of the season, throwing for 284 yards and two touchdowns against the Chargers last week, but this Sunday's game presents a different challenge. The Jaguars field one of the NFL's top cornerback tandems in veteran Brian Williams and Pro-Bowler Rashean Mathis. Eddie Kennison returns for the Chiefs. How much difference will he make?
To be honest, quite a bit. As Warpaint's own Mike Nugent pointed out yesterday, the Chiefs will likely see less than eight men in the box for the first time all season this Sunday. Teams simply can't afford to commit that many men against the run with the likes of Kennison, Dwayne Bowe and Tony Gonzalez roaming the secondary. The chance of the Jaguars' safeties sitting back is even more likely this weekend when you consider the fact that Jacksonville's defensive scheme usually only places seven in the box.
Mathis and Williams play left and right corner exclusively, so we'll likely see Bowe matched up against the smaller Williams a good portion of the day, which is an advantage for Kansas City in the red zone. The Jaguars, even with the return of linebacker Clint Ingram, have no one that matches up with Gonzalez, another plus for the Chiefs. From a pass rush standpoint, the Jaguars have struggled this season when they only rush four, but ends Bobby McCray and Brett Hawkins will give whomever the Chiefs line up at right tackle problems. Kyle Turley was unimpressive last week and is dinged up; Chris Terry was awful this preseason. And Marcus Stroud against KC right guard John Welbourn will be a real problem for Kansas City. The Jaguars rarely blitz, but they may not have to against the Chiefs.
WHEN THE JAGUARS PASS
David Garrard might be one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the league right now. He's playing with an aura of confidence and calmness that's not found in your average quarterback. Jaguars fans can rest assured that Jack Del Rio made the right decision in dumping Byron Leftwich.
What's even more amazing is that Garrard is playing so well without much in the way of targets in the passing game. Reggie Williams and Matt Jones look like first-round busts. Dennis Northcutt is Jacksonville's best receiver, and he's a free agent castoff from Cleveland. The Jaguars don't have a deep threat, but between Williams, Jones and Ernest Wilford, they field a basketball team at wide receiver, and that may give the Chiefs some problems. Tight end Marcedes Lewis, another giant of a player at 6-foot-8, is also playing well right now.
Here's where the Chiefs win big, however. Watching left tackle Khalif Barnes against the Falcons, it's clear why Jared Allen predicted three sacks on his radio show this week. Barnes was absolutely dominated by Atlanta's John Abraham, and would have allowed several sacks had Garrard not scrambled. I'll reinforce Allen's prediction with one of my own – KC's defensive end will dominate Barnes on Sunday. Right tackle Tony Pashos has some of the slowest feet you'll see in an offensive tackle, too, so look for Tamba Hali to have a great day off the other edge.
WHEN THE CHIEFS RUN
A week after their best rushing performance of the season in San Diego, the Chiefs come home to find two mountains standing in their way – John Henderson and Marcus Stroud. Jacksonville's pair of elite defensive tackles won't give the Chiefs as many problems as Pat and Kevin Williams did when Kansas City hosted Minnesota two weeks ago, but running against these guys isn't going to be easy. Chiefs fans are also well aware of strong safety Sammy Knight, an excellent defender against the run who now starts for the Jaguars after Gerald Sensabaugh went down with injury.
Larry Johnson had 138 yards and three touchdowns against this team last year, but don't look for a repeat performance. The Jaguars' low ranking against the run is deceptive right now – they shut down Denver and Atlanta's running games after the Titans gashed them in the opener. The Jaguars fill the gaps consistently and they don't miss tackles. If the Chiefs try the same gameplan on Sunday that they ran against the Vikings, they'll struggle on offense again.
WHEN THE JAGUARS RUN
The Chiefs aren't the only team struggling to run the ball this season. The Jaguars are having a terrible time of it right now after ranking third in the league a year ago. Don't fault Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew – their offensive line simply isn't playing near as well as it did in 2006. The Jaguars actually had great success a week ago in Denver, but the Broncos are allowing every team they face to pile up rushing yards right now.
Part of the problem may be play-calling. The Jaguars show little interest in establishing an outside running game, preferring to pound it between the tackles instead. Even so, the Chiefs better work on their tackling this week. Jones-Drew bounced of Chiefs defenders like a pinball on many plays in last year's meeting. And don't sleep on the quarterback, Garrard, either. He'll run through an arm tackle with just as much ease as either of the running backs. The Chiefs may want to spy him with Derrick Johnson or Donnie Edwards.
43-year old John Carney hasn't disappointed the Jaguars in replacing their regular kicker, Josh Scobee. Carney is nailing his field goals and despite his age, is booming the ball into the end zone on kickoffs. Punter Adam Podlesh, a rookie, has an odd kicking technique (his non-kicking leg doesn't leave the ground after the punt) and isn't particularly impressive at the moment. The Chiefs have the edge in kickers, but Jacksonville has the superior coverage units by far. And look out for Jones-Drew on kickoff returns.
The Jaguars are just 1-3 after bye weeks under Jack Del Rio, and are playing their second straight road game this week in Kansas City. Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards is 2-1 lifetime against Del Rio.
The Jaguars field the superior defense, special teams and quarterback in this game. It's difficult to see any team coming into Arrowhead Stadium and winning, but the Jaguars have the right mix of talent to do it.
Jaguars 16, Chiefs 10
Film Review: Chiefs vs Jaguars
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