The Chiefs and Jaguars will share a field Sunday for the third time in 308 days, so naturally we’re left to wonder if there’s any reason to expect a different result than the last two.
Well, the betting market says not really.
The Chiefs are favored either 3 or 3 1/2 points, depending on your preferred sportsbook. (Which, given that can be a key half-point in the betting world, find the book that helps your cause.)
The big-picture outlook for Sunday is that we tend to make too much of season openers when tracking Week 2 lines, and that might be especially the case for the Chiefs. They didn’t look great against the Lions, no doubt, but they played without tight end Travis Kelce and defensive tackle Chris Jones, both of whom are ready to play in Jacksonville, barring setbacks.
It’s too early to expect a full workload from Jones, but he couldn’t have picked a much better time to conclude his holdout. The Jaguars’ most glaring weakness is the offensive line. Even after last week’s victory, PFF ranked them as the worst-run blocking unit in Week 1 and the 20th-best pass blocking unit.
The Jags are without left tackle Cam Robinson, who is serving a four-game suspension to open the season for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. The Jaguars are also already dealing with some injuries along the interior of the offensive line, though Doug Pederson said center Luke Fortner and right guard Brandon Scherff will play Sunday.
So, yeah, it sets up nicely for Jones’ return.
Sets up nicely for Mahomes, too.
The Jaguars ranked 28th against the pass last season, and they didn’t do a whole lot to address the weakness. The pass rush did get to Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson six times last week, but the strength of the Chiefs’ line is their pass blocking.
The Jaguars are a playoff team — especially in that division and with that schedule — but if Kelce and Jones are truly ready to contribute, even if not fully, it should be a bounce-back opportunity for the Chiefs.
The pick: Chiefs 33, Jaguars 26
Last week: 0-1
1. Patrick Mahomes over 293.5 passing yards
The Chiefs’ passing game, wide receiver drops notwithstanding, is miles ahead of their running game — which has been a true statement since Mahomes took over, but it’s even more accurate now given the strengths of the KC offensive line. The game in Jacksonville should be close, which would keep Mahomes and the passing game involved late. And I mentioned the Jaguars’ secondary already. While this seems to be a really high number, and it is, Mahomes topped 320 yards in 10 of 17 games last season.
2. Nick Bolton, over 8.5 tackles (solo and assisted combined)
The Jaguars ran the ball more last week than they threw it. Even when they did throw, they kept their running backs and tight ends involved. Those are all opportunities for Bolton to be a significant presence Sunday. Bolton reached this number in 13 out of 17 games last year.
3. Kadarius Toney, over 27.5 yards
This might be the only time all season I opt for three over picks. But if you know anything about Andy Reid, he likes to feed guys on the heels of a bad snap or a bad week, trying to flush the mistake from memory as quickly as possible. Toney had about as bad of a game for a Chiefs receiver as we’ve seen in some time, but I’d still expect him to be a focal point for the long haul. And that means Reid should feed him in the short term.