Chiefs vs. Jaguars Preview and Prediction

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Chiefs vs. Jaguars Preview and Prediction: Does Jacksonville’s Magic Run Out at Arrowhead?

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The Jacksonville Jaguars have been one of the most fun stories to unfold down the stretch. Unfortunately, their magic will run out against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

We tend to sleep on the No. 1 seeds coming into the divisional round. They get the bye, we watch a weekend of exciting football without them, narratives build, and we forget how good they are. Don’t make that mistake this week.

Jacksonville is good. They’ve been fun to watch and easy to root for. But the Chiefs are a perennial Super Bowl contender, and they’re the Goliath to Jacksonville’s David. Except in this story, Goliath crushes David and advances to their fifth straight AFC title game.

What Time is the Chiefs vs. Jaguars Game?

  • Date: Saturday, January 22, 2023
  • Time: 3:30 PM CT
  • Location: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.

Who is Favored to Win the Chiefs vs. Jaguars Game?

  • DraftKings Betting Line: Chiefs -8.5
  • Over-Under: 53

How to Watch the Chiefs vs. Jaguars Game

  • TV: NBC (Mike Tirico, Chris Collinsworth, Melissa Stark)
  • Streaming: Peacock (Mike Tirico, Chris Collinsworth, Melissa Stark)
  • National Radio: Westwood One (Kevin Harlan, Trent Green, Olivia Dekker)

Jaguars Path to Victory

If the Jaguars hope to slow down Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense on Saturday, they’ll have to do it with a four-man rush. When these two teams played each other in Week 10, Jacksonville did a poor job at getting to Mahomes with a four-man rush.

Mahomes scrambled on 12.5 percent of his dropbacks in Week 10 — his highest mark of the season — and Mahomes ran for 40 yards on the ground. The scrambling also led to additional time outside of the pocket which translated into big plays down the field.

On this play on the Chiefs’ second drive of the game, Jacksonville rushes four, and no one comes close to getting home. Mahomes has all day and finds Travis Kelce on a deep over for 46 yards.

That play put Kansas City on the doorsteps of the Jags red zone and resulted in a touchdown three plays later.

Here’s another one. We’ve got the Chiefs in 11 personnel with Kelce in the slot on the left. Jacksonville again rushes four, and Mahomes steps up and hits Marquez Valdes-Scantling for an 18-yard touchdown.

At that point, it was 14-0, which was pretty much all she wrote. You can’t spot Patrick Mahomes 14 points, especially not in the postseason. If Jacksonville has a prayer in this game, they’ll need an effective four-man pass rush to get home.

If Doug Pederson is looking for some tape to figure out how to slow Mahomes down, he can look at the Seahawks-Broncos game from Week 1. Then, the Seahawks used a three-man rush to one side, flushing Wilson to the other, where a spy was waiting for him.

It’ll look something like this. Seattle shows a four-man front, rushes three, and Uchenna Nwosu drops back and acts as a spy.

Chiefs Path to Victory

The fact that the Jaguars defense struggles to cover tight ends will be a significant problem for them in this one. Travis Kelce is among the best in the league, and Patrick Mahomes knows how to find him.

Jacksonville ranked 32nd in pass defense DVOA vs. tight ends this season. The Jaguars allowed 58 first down or touchdown catches to tight ends this season, a league-worst. They also allowed 13.1 yards per reception on tight end targets, 30th in the NFL.

You saw the deep connection to Kelce earlier, and Jacksonville just lost him on that play. So here again, Jacksonville loses Kelce. You’ve got Kelce bunched up on the left, and you can see the linebacker, safety, can corner communicating coverage pre-snap.

A simple crosser by Justin Watson in front of Kelce to the middle, and it’s over. Easy touchdown for Kelce. Not even sure what the defense was communicating, but it apparently wasn’t “cover that dude; he’s pretty good.”

If Jacksonville can’t figure out how to match up with Kelce, he will have a big game, just like he did in Week 10 when he caught six passes for 81 yards and a touchdown.

Prediction

While I would love to see the Jaguars continue their exciting playoff run, it likely ends on Saturday in Kansas City. For all the magic that the upstart Jags have, Mahomes and the Chiefs are too much.

Final Score: Chiefs 24, Jaguars 14



Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.