Moeller: Sunday’s Game Beginning to Smell Like an Upset

By Jeff Moeller, Florida Sports Wire

JACKSONVILLE –  It’s Prime Time Game One for the Jaguars Sunday at EverBank Stadium Sunday, and you couldn’t have asked for a better team to begin it than the Chiefs. It should be an electric atmosphere, as the Jags’ faithful has been anxiously waiting for their first home game.

The defending Super Bowl champions will step onto the turf with an uncharacteristic 0-1 record after a hard-fought, home 21-20 loss to the Lions nine days ago. The Jags started slow in Indianapolis last Sunday and turned it in the second half for a 31-21 victory.

Do you smell an upset? Hmm?

Remember last year’s AFC divisional in which the Jags overcame a sluggish start and nearly knocked off the Chiefs in a 27-20 defeat. KC’s Patrick Mahomes hobbled through the game in a storybook heroic effort after Jags’ fans thought they had one of those late -arriving Christmas presents with Mahomes likely being forced to leave the game.

KC did get some good news this week when All-Pro defensive end Chris Jones ended his holdout and inked a one-year deal. Even with very limited practice time, Jones’ presence in the lineup should make a difference to a defense that didn’t look Super Bowl caliber against the Lions.

Mahomes did what everyone expected him to do with his 226 yards passing and two  touchdown passes, but a costly pick in the mix. Mahomes accounted for half the team’s rushing yards with his 45 on the ground.

On the surface, the Chiefs looked like they dropped a few notches down from last season against the Lions, and the Lions are a good football team that should surprise some teams. The Chiefs’ faithful will point out that tight end Travis Kelce didn’t play, and that did make a difference.

Kelce will be back in the lineup Sunday afternoon, yet this appears to be a Chiefs’ offense that is still trying to find its identity. Some of the names have changed on the offensive line and in the backfield and on the outside, but it’s still too early to totally doubt a unit that led the league in total yards (7,032), touchdowns (61), first downs (408) and points (496).

Like an upset, here? Starting to.

The Jags’ Trevor Lawrence, who is expected to be on the same plane with Mahomes this season had similar numbers with 242 yards passing with a pair of touchdowns and a bad interception against the Colts. Travis Etienne ran for 77 yards and newcomer Calvin Ridley caught eight balls for 101 yards with a touchdown.

Tackles Walter Little and top pick Aaron Harrison did a good job in helping keep the Colts pass rush in check, allowing two sacks. The Jag’s O-line as some bumps and bruises, and Chiefs’ defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is sure to give them some different looks.

But this will come down to the Jags’ defense, mainly their pass rush. Josh Allen had three sacks and Travon Walker added one last week, and the unit will need to keep a steady stream of pressure on Mahomes.

If the Jags’ offense can avoid any untimely turnovers and their defense can keep it close, the difference could be veteran kicker Brandon McManus, who booted his first field goal last week.

The Chiefs will be a desperate team, as they want to avoid an 0-2 start even though the rest of their divisional opponents all seem to land in the eight or nine-win total for the season. Kc could suffer a few losses and still wrap up the division.

Will there be an upset? I got a feeling there will be in a 31-28 Jags victory with McManus kicking a game-winner.

Any way you look at it, there should be a playoff atmosphere Sunday afternoon.

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