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Playing down to their level?


If this was one of those cloudless, 70-degree days in January, I could understand it. Those kinds of blissful days, when most of the rest of the country is layered by snow, have a way of making you feel a cut above. So what's the excuse this week?

How is that we have the audacity to be so smug to suggest that the Jaguars have to avoid playing down to the level of their competition this Sunday? It certainly can't be because of the weather, unless, of course, you have an affection for flooded yards, leaky roofs and torrential rains that moved in off the ocean as though the sea was attempting to relocate.

Smug? About what? One win in Denver?

Hey, folks, take a look around. Kansas City is number three in defense. They're coming off a win at San Diego, which had the league's best record last season. The Chiefs are 2-2, on a two-game winning streak and tied for the AFC West lead. They've won seven of their last eight home games, one of which was against the Jaguars, and they are 9-2 at Arrowhead in the month of October since 2002.

"Big challenge on the road," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said. "They have playmakers. They have one of the elite running backs in the league. It's rare that you see such a combination of power and speed," Del Rio said, referring to Larry Johnson, the league's second-leading rusher last season.

Have we forgotten what Johnson did to the Jaguars at Arrowhead Stadium on last New Year's Eve? He rushed for 138 yards and three touchdowns; caught five passes for 22 yards.

The Chiefs have a playmaking linebacker in Derrick Johnson, two high-energy defensive ends in Jared Allen and Tamba Hali, and Ty Law and Patrick Surtain represent one of the league's better cornerback tandems.

They have something on offense now that they didn't have last season: a big-time speed receiver. That's what rookie Dwayne Bowe is. He's caught 18 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns, and his speed opens the field for Johnson to run between the tackles.

So what's with the smugness? Somebody please tell me why the Chiefs represent a level beneath the Jaguars. All I see is a big-time challenge in one of the league's toughest places to play.

Apparently, however, that's not the consensus opinion because the most asked question during media time in the Jaguars locker room on Wednesday was about the Jaguars' penchant for playing down to the level of their competition. Apparently, this one has already been put into the win column.

Forget about it. You don't waltz into Arrowhead Stadium and claim victory without playing your best football. Maybe Damon Huard doesn't make your heart beat faster, but Herman Edwards has the Chiefs playing his kind of football and the one thing that was clearly evident in Del Rio's tone of voice is his regard for Johnson.

The Chiefs are going to pound the ball at the Jaguars on Sunday. They're going to try to do what the Titans did. Then, after a lot of pounding, they're going to put it in, take it out and throw it downfield for Bowe. It's called play-action football and it's what teams do that have a big-time between-the-tackles running back who can make safeties peek, and a big-time speed receiver who can makes safeties that peek pay the price.

Smug? Play down to their level? That's not the attitude that's going to win for the Jaguars on Sunday. This is a Chiefs team on the rise and they have always been a cut above in Arrowhead.

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