Jaguars @ Chiefs Game Preview

The Jaguars visit Kansas City this weekend, looking to better their record to 3-1, which would have them controlling their own destinies in the AFC playoff race.

With the Jaguars facing a very difficult October which includes games with division rivals such as improved Houston and currently undefeated Indianapolis, as well as a trip across the state to play the surprising Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Jaguars really need to notch another conference victory this Sunday.

Chiefs offense- 27th overall (19th passing, 30th rushing); T27th scoring- 14.0 ppg. Vs. Jaguars defense- 4th overall (4th passing, 26th rushing); 2nd scoring- 11.3 ppg.

    Offensively, the Chiefs are built on running the football with one of the very best running backs in the NFL, in Larry Johnson. Johnson is off to a slow start in 2007, but had a nice 123 yard effort at San Diego last week. Johnson has averaged over 1700 yards rushing, and over 2000 total yards from scrimmage in the past two seasons, and it is likely that he'll achieve similar numbers by the end of this season.

    The Chiefs offensive line doesn't have as much continuity for the 2007 season as it did in years past, as they only return two starters, in center Casey Wiegmann, and guard Brian Waters, that started 14 or more games in 2006. Rounding out the Chiefs line are tackles Kyle Turley and Damien McIntosh, and guard John Welbourn. This unit has struggled somewhat this year, but is expected to get better the more they play with each other.

    Despite trailing for much of the season and being forced to throw the football, the Chiefs passing game was among the worst in the league before breaking out against the Chargers last week. Starting quarterback Damon Huard had previously been a career backup prior to this season, and he has been known to take chances with the football. Huard currently has four touchdown passes and five interceptions, and has a quarterback rating of 79.6, ranking him 21st in the NFL. The Chiefs most proven pass catching threat is tight end Tony Gonzalez, who is among the best at his position, and will likely end up in the Hall of Fame when his career ends. Kansas City's best outside threats are veteran receiver Eddie Kennison, Sammie Parker, and rookie first-round pick, Dwayne Bowe, who broke out with eight receptions for 164 yards and a touchdown at San Diego. Bowe has a touchdown reception in each of the Chiefs last three games.

    For the Chiefs to have success against the tough Jacksonville defense, they must be able to get Larry Johnson going early and often. The Jaguars secondary matches up well against the Chiefs receivers, and it is doubtful that Kansas City will have much going on through the air if they don't first establish the run.

Jaguars offense- 21st overall (22nd passing, 13th rushing); 25th scoring- 15.3 ppg. Vs. Chiefs defense- 3rd overall (5th passing, 19th rushing); T9th scoring- 16.5 ppg.

    The Jaguars seemed to find their identity in their 23-14 victory in Denver on September 30th. The Jaguars stuck to their run the ball, stop the run script to the tune of an 186-46 rushing advantage, and 17 more minutes of time of possession than the Broncos. The Jaguars will likely try to beat up on the Chiefs smallish defensive line with their power running game featuring running backs Fred Taylor, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Greg Jones. The Chiefs starting defensive line of Tamba Hali, Ron Edwards, Alfonso Boone, and Jared Allen are better pass rushers than they are run stoppers.

    When forced to go to the air, David Garrard and the Jaguars have been utilizing tight ends Marcedes Lewis, George Wrighster, and Greg Estandia, and they would appear to have a height advantage over the smaller Chiefs line backing corps of Donnie Edwards, Napoleon Harris, and Derrick Johnson.

    On the outside, the Jaguars targets are Dennis Northcutt, Ernest Wilford, Reggie Williams, John Broussard, and Matt Jones. The Chiefs counter with veteran corners, Ty Law and Patrick Surtain, along with safeties Bernard Pollard and Jarrad Page. The Jaguars receivers have a considerable height advantage over the Chiefs secondary, but they are probably not as talented.

    Players on Kansas City's defense to watch out for are defensive end Jared Allen, who had 10 tackles, four passes defensed, two sacks, and a forced fumble in just two games, and linebacker Derrick Johnson, who has 26 tackles, three sacks, and one interception already this season.

    The Jaguars will likely try to "do what they do," which is run the football, use a short, conservative passing game, and let David Garrard audible to some designed quarterback draws to pick up key first downs. Garrard is playing the best football of his career, and he finished his last game as the seventh ranked passer in the NFL, with a rating of 103.8.

    Defensively, the Chiefs will try and stop the Jaguars rushing attack, which accounted for 186 yards last time out in Denver. The key for opponents against the Jaguars is to put the game in Jaguars quarterback David Garrard's hands, and force an underachieving passing game to beat them.

Special Teams

    Rankings:
    Chiefs kickoff return: 27th- 21.9 ypr; punt return: 16th- 8.4 ypr; punting: 3rd- 46.6 ypp gross;

    Jaguars kickoff return: 2nd- 32.0 yrp; punt return: 23rd- 6.5; punting: 28th- 38.6 ypp gross;


    Chiefs: PK Dave Rayner, P Dustin Colquitt, LS Jean-Philippe Darche, KOR/PR Eddie Drummond. Rayner has hit 6/7 on field goals with a long of 49 yards. Drummond is averaging 21.5 yards per kickoff return, 8.4 yards per punt return.

    Jaguars: PK John Carney, P Adam Podlesh, LS Joe Zelenka, KOR Maurice Jones-Drew, PR Dennis Northcutt. Carney is a perfect 5/5 on field goals with a long of 35 yards. Jones-Drew is averaging 32 yards per kickoff return. Northcutt is averaging 6.5 yards per punt return on just two chances.

    The Chiefs seem to have a slight advantage with their kicker's range, and punter. The Jaguars have the more explosive return men, and the better coverage teams.


Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer.

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