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View from the O-Zone: Let the hype begin


JACKSONVILLE – Tashaun Gipson offered a succinct preview.

"You've got good on good," the Jaguars' free safety called the matchup of the Jaguars' defense against the Kansas City Chiefs' offense.

Gipson perhaps missed by a touch because this one feels more like "great against great," and while we're at it:

Let the hype begin.

That's how it feels, right? Like Jaguars-Chiefs can't get here soon enough? Like this one's going to be memorable – and important? Maybe really important?

All are true, and all are why Jaguars-Chiefs Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City Sunday at 1 p.m. ranks as one of the biggest games of the 2018 NFL season – and another one of the most important games in recent Jaguars history.

"Obviously, this is a very big game – a high-powered game," Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack said.

The Jaguars' defense may be the NFL's best: No. 1 in the NFL in yards allowed, No. 1 in points allowed, No. 1 in passing yards allowed.

That's a lot of No. 1s, and the Jaguars aren't bad against the run, either. They're 10th, after limiting the New York Jets to 34 yards rushing while allowing 178 total yards in a 31-12 Jaguars victory at TIAA Bank Field Sunday.

The Chiefs' offense rankings aren't as impressive – No. 8 overall, No. 14 rushing and No. 9 passing – but those statistics don't match a glistening reputation that has many considering them one of the NFL's best two offenses along with the Los Angeles Rams.

"They're one of the higher-powered offenses in the league," Jack said, adding with a smile: "I use them in Madden sometimes, so they're pretty good."

Chiefs hype was a major storyline in Weeks 1-3 as quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw 13 touchdowns with no interceptions. It reached new heights in a 27-23, nationally-televised, come-from-behind victory at Denver Monday that had Twitter in a frenzy that only the freshest, most-exciting faces can produce.

One of those faces: Mahomes, a second-year veteran and one of a slew of reasons Sunday's matchup is so compelling. The NFL is about matchups – and stars.

Jaguars-Chiefs is overflowing with both.

Mahomes is excitement personified. He's young. His arm is powerful. He scrambles. He adlibs. He reminds Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid enough of Brett Favre that Reid has said as much publicly. It's a valid comparison in terms of style if not yet of accomplishment.

The Chiefs' offense? Excitement personified, too. Mahomes isn't the only reason they lead the league in scoring. Second-year running back Kareem Hunt led the NFL in rushing last season. Tyreek Hill is one of the NFL's fastest players, dangerous as a running back, wide receiver and returner. Travis Kelce is one of the league's best tight ends, and wide receiver Sammy Watkins has developed from one of the league's fastest deep threats into a versatile receiver in his first season in Kansas City. This is a fast, frenzied dangerous bunch.

That describes the Jaguars' defense, too.

For every offensive Chiefs star, there is a Jaguars defensive star. All-Pro cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. All-Pro defensive end Calais Campbell, All-Pro linebacker Telvin Smith, Pro Bowl defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. A middle linebacker, Jack, with the feel of a Pro Bowler in waiting. A Pro Bowl defensive tackle, Malik Jackson, and another former Pro Bowl player – Marcell Dareus – who has played at a Pro Bowl level since joining the Jaguars last season.

That's star power – and like the Chiefs, the Jaguars are really fast. The guess here is that's where this matchup will jump off the screen. Jack and Smith versus Hill and Hunt? Ramsey and Bouye versus Watkins and Hill?

There's a reason CBS' No. 1 broadcast crew is assigned to this one. This is must-see stuff.

The Jaguars' young, cocky defense loves these stages, relatively new to them though it may be. The energy at Arrowhead will be real.

It is the nature of such games that the other matchup – the Jaguars' offense against the Chiefs' defense – gets overlooked. That could be the key matchup – i.e., how a Jaguars offense that has been inconsistent this season fares against the Chiefs' 32nd-ranked defense. The thought here is that's where the game could tilt in the Jaguars' favor.

However the game tilts, it could decide much about this 2018 NFL season. If these teams are as good as each believe, this game will have playoff implications. A victory would guarantee either team nothing and a loss wouldn't ruin either team's season, but a loss would leave the Jaguars a steep climb in the ultimate big-picture quest for homefield advantage for the playoffs.

But the time for that talk is in the future. What's in the present is Sunday's matchup – a big matchup that promises to be epically fast, epically star-driven, epically memorable and epically fun.

"Good on good?" Was that how Gipson described it?

Nah. This is better than that.

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