JACKSONVILLE – Each Saturday during the 2019 season, nine Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton, J.P. Shadrick and Ashlyn Sullivan – will break down the following day’s Jaguars matchup.
Up this week:
The Kansas City Chiefs at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They can score in the red zone. The Jaguars had no trouble moving the ball last season in Kansas City; turnovers and problems in the red zone were their undoing. New quarterback Nick Foles was signed for many reasons, including turning around a Jaguars scoring offense that dropped off last season by 10.8 points a game from 2017.
The Chiefs will win if: They can make the Jaguars one-dimensional. The Chiefs were one of the NFL’s worst teams last season against the run. They led the NFL in sacks with 53. Kansas City will do its best to stop Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette and make Foles and the passing offense beat them.
As Ballou sees it: Jaguars, 24-23. This game will be as tight as can be for four quarters. The Jaguars will have success running the ball and wear down Kansas City in the heat late for a game-winning touchdown.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if: They start fast on both sides of the ball. The Chiefs were No. 1 in the NFL last season in first-quarter points. The Jaguars can’t afford to play catch-up all day Sunday. Having the lead or having it be a one-possession game is critical. It will allow new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo to call a game that has a good balance of run and pass.
The Chiefs will win if: They get an early lead and force the Jaguars to try and win a shootout. No team in the NFL is built better for a high-scoring contest than the Chiefs. They probably are the NFL’s fastest offense and will test a good, fast Jaguars defense.
As Boselli sees it: The Jaguars will come out fast on both sides of the ball and take an early lead. It will be a back-and-forth affair with the Jaguars’ defense making a big play late in the game that will set up Foles’ first game-winning drive with the Jaguars. Prediction: Jaguars, 24-21.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if: Their offense can stay on the field. They must sustain long drives and finish those drives. It not only keeps quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs off the field but increases their sense of urgency when they are on it. Obviously, harassing Mahomes and getting him off his spot is critical as well.
The Chiefs will win if: They shut down the Jaguars’ offense early. The Chiefs are a confident team, so getting three and outs and scoring early will add to that confidence. A big part of all of that is stopping Fournette on early downs, making the Jaguars throw off schedule.
As Frangie sees it: This is a tough matchup for Jacksonville. The Jaguars are playing one of the best teams in the league in Week 1, and Foles and his receivers haven't worked together much in game situations. The Jaguars must play their best game.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: They are efficient with their "new" offense and move the sticks to win time of possession. The Chiefs have changed their defense with new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and some new players as well. Call it a fair fight since both teams have a lot of new in this matchup that must be won by the Jaguars.
The Chiefs will win if: If Mahomes is allowed to play at an MVP level Sunday. A marquee matchup Sunday will be the Chiefs’ skill players – tight end Travis Kelce and wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins – against a Jaguars defense again expected to be one of the NFL’s best. The Jaguars’ defensive front must affect Mahomes and prevent him from finding any comfort.
As Lageman sees it: There is nothing more exciting in the NFL than playing in an opener. Every player and coach in the league has visions of greatness; the Jaguars are no different. This game is a great team matchup with great individual matchups such as Hill versus Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey. My popcorn is ready as I believe it will be a down-to-the-wire that the Jags will find a way to win with a strong defensive effort.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if: They make two big scoring plays in the passing game. The focus is on Kansas City’s passing attack and vertical game. The Jaguars could have an advantage when on offense throwing against two unproven corners for the Chiefs. If the Jaguars can hit two big scoring plays, that will lead to a productive offensive day, and enough points to win in the season opener.
The Chiefs will win if: This new-look defense stops the run. Kansas City was not good a year ago on defense, but the Chiefs made significant changes in coaching, scheme and talent on that side of the ball. The formula for beating the Jaguars is simply stopping the run and Fournette. If that happens, the Chiefs will be in business.
As Martineau sees it: This is a tough one. The Jaguars might be good enough to beat the Chiefs, but they must prove it. It is a lot of blind faith in this offense right now. A new coordinator, quarterback and a line that hasn’t played together much could mean a slow start on that side of the ball. The Jaguars’ young safeties will be challenged. Prediction: 30-24, Chiefs.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: The defense creates chaos and the offense converts opportunities. The defense has enough playmakers for the Jaguars to win, and they likely will create at least a few short fields or point-blank opportunities. If the offense turns those opportunities into touchdowns, this is winnable.
The Chiefs will win if: The Jaguars’ offense is ineffective. The Chiefs enter the season with a largely new defense, having converted from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3. The Jaguars have just as many unknowns offensively. But if Foles and the Jaguars’ offense are effective to the tune of three or more touchdowns, the defense can create opportunities and give Jacksonville a real chance.
As Oehser sees it: This game could come down to turnovers. The Jaguars must create them defensively and keep them to a minimum offensively. The projection here is the Jaguars create 17 points off turnovers with one defensive touchdown and surprise the Chiefs on a steamy Northeast Florida afternoon.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if: Their defense is as good as advertised. The Chiefs will score. They opened 2018 with a new quarterback and scored 38, 42, 38, 27 and 30 in their first five games. They have All-Pro talent at quarterback, tight end and wide receiver – plus the one of the game's best offensive minds calling the shots. The Jaguars’ defense has the look of a unit that could be better than in 2017; it could be special. The Jaguars must show it on Sunday.
The Chiefs will win if: They can match the 30 points they scored against the Jaguars last October. I don't doubt the Jaguars offense will be better this season with Foles than they were a year ago when they averaged a paltry 15 points per game. I just don't expect they'll come out of the gate as fast as those Chiefs did last season, especially considering how few snaps they got together in the preseason. If the Jags’ defense can't slow the Chiefs, the offense will be hard-pressed to keep pace.
As Sexton sees it: The stifling heat will help the Jaguars. I recall the defending AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers falling like flies in Week 1 of 1996 when the stadium felt like the surface of the sun. It's supposed to be very, very warm on Sunday post-Hurricane Dorian. The Chiefs offense is the class of the AFC – and maybe the NFL – but the intense heat and humidity will help the defense keep them somewhat in check and allow the offense and maybe special teams to give the Jaguars a few plays and an upset victory.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if: They can win the turnover battle. Last year, the Jaguars’ defense had two takeaways and one of the best performances against the Chiefs’ offense of any defense in the league all year. The Jaguars’ offense negated all that by giving it away five times in that game.
The Chiefs will win if: They score more than 28 points. Who on the Jaguars’ offense do you count on that’s scored time and time again? Fournette is just about the only familiar name that has significant experience in the end zone for this team.
As Shadrick sees it: After four preseason drives, no one really has a clear idea of what this new Jaguars offense is going to look like. New coordinator, new quarterback, new receiver, new tight end, new right tackle … what does this team look like moving the ball and how do they score? You know who else doesn’t know? The Chiefs. Lean on the defense to make a few plays and steal some possessions and find a way to cash them in. If you get in a track meet against the Chiefs, then you are probably in for a long day.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Digital reporter and host
The Jaguars will win if: They can slow Kansas City’s offense. The Jaguars were the only team in 2018 to hold Mahomes to no touchdown passes, and they held him to a career-low 62.7 passer rating. They will have to do that again and more to create a speed bump against the league’s most explosive offense.
The Chiefs will win if: The linebackers don’t do their part. The league doesn’t know much about the Jaguars’ linebacker group with Myles Jack, Quincy Williams and Leon Jacobs. Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is one of the best up the middle in the league; the Jaguars’ linebackers are going to have to play well and limit Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce’s productivity for the Jaguars to be successful.
As Sullivan sees it: This no doubt is an incredibly tough game to start the Jaguars season on a short week. I don’t think we know enough about the Jaguars’ offense to determine if they can score enough points to keep up with the Chiefs. The Jaguars’ defense is going to have to make big plays with some turnovers, giving the offense as many chances as they can to get into the endzone. It’s going to have to be a high-scoring game for the Jaguars for them to win.