The Jacksonville Jaguars, coming off a bye week in which they no doubt rested some key personnel, are hoping to add to their current two-game winning streak when they face the suddenly revived Kansas City Chiefs in what could be considered a key game for both teams; a Jaguars win would help them keep pace with the AFC North-leading Indianapolis Colts while a win by the Chiefs would let them at the very least keep a share of the volatile AFC West.
The Jaguars got to their current 2-1 record with a stout pass defense (ranked #3 overall) and a consistent, if unspectacular, offense. It is led by unheralded quarterback David Garrard (48-of-75, 630 yards, 3 touchdowns, zero interceptions), who has for the most part played mistake-free football. But it is the defense that is the Jaguars’ calling card, the leaders being defensive tackle Marcus Stroud (2.5 sacks) and linebacker Mike Peterson (2 sacks).
The Chiefs’ offense is in the lower half of the league, stats-wise (ranked #27 in points scored – 56 and yards per game – 285.3); however, they have an emerging star in wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (18-299-3 TD’s) and their constant safety net, tight end Tony Gonzalez (21-238-1 TD). They could use some improvement from their starting quarterback Damon Huard (78-of-119, 833 yards, 4 TD’s, 5 INT’s) as the constant rumor of rookie QB Brodie Croyle taking over hangs over him. Running back Larry Johnson (75-263) is slowly hitting his stride, evidenced by his 123 yard effort last week against the San Diego Chargers.
But the defense has kept the Chiefs in and has also won some games for the team. They have several leaders on defense, most prominently LB’s Napoleon Harris (35 tackles, 25 solo; 1 sack, 1 INT) and Donnie Edwards (29 tackles, 23 solo; 1 sack, 1 INT); also providing a solid effort is LB Derrick Johnson (27 tackles, 23 solo; 3 sacks, 1 INT). From my observation, it appears based on certain stats by the aforementioned 3 LB’s, blitz packages are utilized on occasion.
For the Jaguars to win, they will need to play mistake-free football and a much better effort running the ball from both RB’s Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor. Some blitz packages from the LB’s will assist towards that end, as well. The Chiefs will need Johnson to pick up where he left off last week and for their LB’s to continue doing what they seem to do best, which is to blitz the QB when the situation dictates it. Also keep in mind that the Chiefs almost never lose at home. The Chiefs should prevail in this matchup due to their defense causing turnovers either by interceptions or making the RB’s fumble the ball.