Well folks, we can finally say it, football is back! KC Kindgom wants to help you get to know the Chiefs up coming opponent. With college football kicking off last week, the NFL is set to kick off this week, and the Kansas City Chiefs will square off with the Jacksonville Jaguars this Sunday at EvanBank Field.
The Chiefs are 3 1/2 point favorites in the game, and are trying to usher in a new era in the franchises history. New quarterback Alex Smith, will be making his first start for the Chiefs, hoping to get the offense going early.
The game will be a battle of new head coaches as well. Andy Reid and Gus Bradley are both making their debuts for their respective teams, and both want to get off to a great start.
A key spot to keep an eye on will be the blocking duel of number one overall pick, Eric Fisher, and the player who immediately followed him at number two, Luke Joeckel.
Fisher is playing right tackle in his first season, and Joeckel is set to start at left, protecting quarterback Blaine Gabbert‘s blind side. Joeckel has had a good preseason and the Jags view him as an area of strength on their roster already. He will be tested early and often in the first start of his career. Chiefs linebacker, Justin Houston, is poised to have a career year, and Tamba Hali is still a premier pass rusher in the league. Could be a long day for the rookie.
Jags QB, Blaine Gabbert has missed most of the preseason with a hairline fracture on his right thumb, which is on his throwing hand. Setting whatever pain aside, Gabbert is listed to start at quarterback and may come out a bit rusty. Chad Henne is his backup and could possibly see time if Gabbert is still having issues with his thumb.
The Jags wide receiving group won’t be at full strength this Sunday either. Former Oklahoma State wide reciever Justin Blackmon, has been suspended the first 4 games of the regular season for violating the leagues substance abuse policy. Blackmon was the Jags leading receiver in receptions last season with 64 for 865 yards and 5 touchdowns. Wide receiver Cecil Shorts, and tight end Marcedes Lewis are the other two receiving threats for the Jags. The Chiefs, on paper, match up well against the Jags receivers, especially without Blackmon. His presence will certainly be missed for Jacksonville.
Nicknamed pocket Hercules, Maurice Jones-Drew (MJD) is coming off Lisfranc surgery in his foot and hasn’t been satisfied with how his health has been progressing. MJD is entering the final year of his contract, and the lack of satisfaction may be stemming from his worries about how productive he can be while trying to recover from his surgery. Lack of production could equal the lack of dollars for MJD.
The Jags other running backs are Justin Forsett and Jordan Todman. Forsett has been limited with a toe and Todman has played well when given the opportunity this preseason. MJD is expected to make the start Sunday, but it’s hard to say how effective he will be. Either way, the Chiefs need to be prepared for him. He is a dynamic player when healthy, and the Chiefs need to make sure he doesn’t take control of the game.
The Jaguars drafted former Michigan quarterback, Denard Robinson, this past April and Gus Bradley seems to have many plans for him in their offense. Robinson has lined up at receiver, running back and quarterback in wildcat-type formations. With the suspension of Blackmon, Robinson will likely be on the field quite a bit this Sunday, and the Jags will find ways to get the ball in his hands. It will be interesting to see how the Jags do use him, and how the Chiefs plan to match up against him.
The Chiefs offensive line will be dealing with an average front seven in Jacksonville. Tyson Alualu and Jason Babin anchor down the defensive front, and the Chiefs should have opportunities to drive them off the ball and protect Alex Smith. Alalu has been a solid starter the last few years, but hasn’t had much success with getting after the passer. He had a team best 3.5 sacks last season, which is great news for tackles, Branden Albert and Eric Fisher. Jacksonville really struggled to get after the passer as an entire defense, only finishing with 20 sacks last season. It’s important for the Chiefs to give Alex Smith a clean pocket to throw from and they shouldn’t have much trouble.
One player who will make an impact for the Jaguars is linebacker Paul Posluszny. Posluszny has been a tackling machine his entire career, making at least 100 tackles six out of his seven years in the league. Last season he finished with 139 tackles, 3 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles. He will be all over the field on Sunday, and it will be important for the Chiefs to keep a body on him. If Posluszny is able to run free, it could be a tough day for Jamaal Charles and the rest of the rushing attack.
The future might be bright for the Jaguars, but they are likely facing another tough season. Jacksonville is set to lean on a recovering MJD and an underachieving first round quarterback. Unless a switch can go off for Gabbert and the rest of their offense, defenses will stack eight in the box and force Gabbert to beat them over the top. Without Blackmon, the Chiefs shouldn’t have much trouble defending Gabbert’s deep ball. That is a match up that should favor the Chiefs.
Andy Reid and the Chiefs need to get off to a fast start and Jacksonville should be the perfect opponent for them to do just that. The Chiefs, on paper, outmatch the Jags in talent and coaching. If they want to have a shot at the playoffs this year, games like this need to be won.
The game kicks off at Noon on CBS.