Jags' defense to test high-flying Chiefs

By Steve Sell
October 05, 2018

For the Kansas City Chiefs’ eclectic offense, Sunday’s home game with Jacksonville will be its biggest challenge yet.

The Jaguars, who had been doormats for years until making some serious upgrades before the 2017 season, rode their aggressive, sacking defense to the AFC championship game last year, where it had New England on the ropes before the Pats scored 14 fourth-quarter points for a 24-20 victory.

Many thought the Jags would be a one-hit wonder and return to the depths of mediocrity, much of the reasoning being that quarterback Blake Bortles has been maddeningly inconsistent.

In his four games this year, Bortles has thrown for 176, 376, 155 and 388 yards as he has lived up to his roller-coaster monicker.

But he’s facing a Chiefs defense that has been generous. So don’t be surprised if we see yet another shootout because that’s about all Kansas City is going to play this year.

It doesn’t hurt the Chiefs that bruising Jags running back and potential All-Pro Leonard Fournette is out with an injury. Given KC’s slipshod tackling, Fournette was probably licking his chops at a potential 150- or 200-yard day.

But it really doesn’t matter who’s back there. Against Denver, unheralded rookies Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman gashed the Chiefs time and again for chunks of big plays.

I think that’s the way it’s going to be for the Chiefs this year. The defense is what it is. It’s a unit that will get shredded and just hope the offense scores more than it allows.

It makes for wildly entertaining games. In their 4-0 start, the Chiefs are winning by just 7.5 points a game, scoring 36.3 points and giving up 28.8. Yet when the defense needed the big stop last week, it came up with it, thanks to Denver’s Case Keenum missing a wide-open receiver on the Broncos’ last drive that would have won the game.

The Chiefs, though, are the most must-see team in the NFL right now along with the Los Angeles Rams. Forget the boring Dallas Cowboys, who some still call “America’s Team.” And except for Aaron Rodgers, there’s nothing really to watch when it comes to Green Bay. Pittsburgh is team turmoil and the New England Patriots are Tom Brady and a bunch of spare parts, with apologies to Rob Gronkowski.

Kansas City, though, captures our fancy. Andy Reid has designed exotic plays to take advantage of the wondrous creativity of Patrick Mahomes. Tyreek Hill the most exciting receiver in football. Travis Kelce is among the best three tight ends in the NFL. Sammy Watkins and Chris Conley are big, physical receivers and Kareem Hunt provides the balance the offense needs and probably should be featured more.

Some believe this is an AFC championship game preview, though I still don’t buy into the Jags unless Fournette returns. Bortles is still too shaky for my liking, but they’ll be in every game because of their defense.

And for the Chiefs, they’ll be in every game because of their offense.