KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: CBS, Gus Johnson, Steve Tasker
SERIES: 7th meeting. The Jaguars have a 4-2 edge in the six game series. The last game was the season finale last year when the Chiefs won, 35-30, to clinch a playoff berth. Del Rio pulled quarterback David Garrard in the second half of that game for Quinn Gray and then named Byron Leftwich the starter in February. But when Garrard outplayed Leftwich in training camp, Garrard was handed the starting job and Leftwich, who is now in Atlanta, was cut.
PREDICTION: Chiefs 20-16
KEYS TO THE GAME: If Jaguars RBs Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew struggle like they did in K.C. last New Year's Eve (46 yards on 12 carries), the Jaguars will likely fly home losers again. As solid as QB David Garrard has played (103.8 passer rating), the Jaguars spent a good chunk of their bye week trying to figure out their sputtering running game. The Chiefs' main concern is keeping Garrard in the pocket and preventing big gainers off broken plays. ... The Chiefs would love to stop digging holes for themselves, and that starts with QB Damon Huard, who is 12-for-23 with 133 yards and no touchdowns in the first halves of games this season and 25-for-35 with 347 yards and four touchdowns in the second. Huard's quick-developing chemistry with Bowe should begin opening more holes for RB Larry Johnson, and the Jaguars' typically solid run defense was inconsistent in September.
KEY INJURIES: Jaguars: K Josh Scobee (quad) will be replaced by John Carney again; LT Khalif Barnes (ankle) would be replaced by Mo Williams if he can't play. Chiefs: WR Eddie Kennison (hamstring) could return after missing two games; RT Kyle Turley (ankle) would be replaced by Chris Terry; CBs Bennie Sapp (ankle) and Dimitri Patterson (hamstring) are expected to be out, hurting depth in the secondary.
KEY INJURIES: Jaguars RB Fred Taylor has five 100-yard rushing games in games following a bye week. ... Chiefs TE Tony Gonzalez needs one touchdown to break his tie with Shannon Sharpe (62) for the most ever by a tight end.
--DT John Henderson (neck) returned to full practice Thursday after being limited Wednesday.
--G Vince Manuwai (hip) returned to full practice Thursday after being limited Wednesday.
--LB Daryl Smith (thigh) returned to full practice Thursday after being limited Wednesday.
--LT Khalif Barnes (ankle) remained limited for the second consecutive day. If he can't go, Mo Williams will replace him.
--LB Clint Ingram, who missed the final three preseason games and the first three regular season games with a high ankle sprain, is back working with the first team and is likely to replace Pat Thomas in the starting lineup. His return may help their run defense.
--RB Larry Johnson remains frustrated that he's yet to find the end zone in four games this year after scoring 21 touchdowns -- including three against Jacksonville, this week's opponent -- in 2006. "Even DBs are scoring before I've scored," he said of rookie Tyron Brackenridge's fumble-return for a score. "I'm thinking, 'Man, what's going on here?'"
--SS Bernard Pollard blocked a Jacksonville punt that he recovered for a touchdown in last year's Chiefs victory on New Year's Eve.
--WR Eddie Kennison did a full workout for a second straight day Thursday without any apparent aggravation of his injured hamstring. Kennison caught six passes for 144 yards and a TD in the Chiefs home victory over Jacksonville last year.
--LB Johnny Baldwin will suit up for the first time as a Chief against Jacksonville. He'll play mainly on special teams as a replacement for injured LB Keyaron Fox.
--QB Damon Huard replaced injured starter Trent Green for one series against Jacksonville last year and engineered a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive in which Eddie Kennison bailed him out with a juggling catch.
Coach Jack Del Rio may be trying to mend the fences with wide receiver Matt Jones. Two weeks ago, Del Rio publicly questioned Jones' body language and then had him inactive as the team's third quarterback in Denver.
Jones' agent, Alan Herman, then criticized Del Rio for his comments and said that if the Jaguars don't start playing him, he'll ask for a trade. Del Rio declined to say this week if Jones will be active, but he's talking as if he will be.
Describing his comments about Jones as "probably overblown' and a "real non-issue," Del Rio said, "I love my players. I love all my players. I really feel like the players that I coach are in some respects much like my own son, and I just want what's best for them. I think Matt is going to be a real good playmaker for us.
"I made probably a 10-second comment, but it's kind of grown into a story. His job is to play and understand what the coach is looking for and do it to the best of his ability. My job is to coach and get all I can out of the players, push them, prod them, get them to play their very best. He's working hard. I'm working hard. He's going to be a good football player for us," he said.
Jones was not in the locker room during the media session Thursday, but he said last week that he wants to remain with the Jaguars.
Jones has three catches this season, all in the second game, and his longest catch was for 16 yards. All this may be a motivational ploy because Reggie William was inactive for the opener and then caught touchdown passes in the next two games.
But whether Jones, noted for his laidback attitude, will be motivated remains to be seen.
The Chiefs offense, which has been productive only in the second half of Kansas City's two consecutive wins, could be getting closer to full-game readiness.
The anticipated return of veteran wide receiver Eddie Kennison, sidelined since pulling his hamstring on the first offensive play of the season opener in Houston, gives the Chiefs a potential stretch-the-field option they haven't had when facing stack-the-box defenses designed to limit RB Larry Johnson.
"It'll be great having Eddie back," Johnson said Thursday. "In past years he'd caught those deep routes to the 5, the 10 (which meant) I didn't have to do all the running to get down there. Maybe now with him back and the young receiver (Dwayne Bowe) breaking out, we can get the safeties and even the corner blitzers out of the box."
Johnson was feeling good enough to practice Thursday, something he didn't do last week before running for 123 yards in the win over San Diego. He's got a sore hamstring that he says has held him down over the first four games when he's averaged only 3.5 yards a carry.
"It's tough trying to run and cut and explode on a strained hamstring," he said. "That last run of the game in San Diego (a 37-yard on a key kill-the-clock third-down conversion) was more like me. Breaking off long runs like that is one way to vent some frustration.
"The more confident Damon (quarterback Huard) gets throwing the ball down the field, and the more we do that with Eddie back and Bowe, the more we'll get a certain swagger back to our offense."