The Divisional Round is always bitter sweet. While it is arguably the most enticing weekend of football, it’s also the last weekend of multiple football games until September — in fact there will be more games played this weekend than there will between next week and the start of the 2023 season. Quite a sobering thought isn’t it? Chiefs vs Jaguars kicks off what should be an epic weekend of football featuring two of the top quarterbacks in the conference, possibly the entire league.
Before we get into this year’s matchups lets revisit the beautiful chaos that was last year’s Divisional Round:
The 2022 NFL Divisional Round was EPIC.
Here’s hoping for a repeat…
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 20, 2023
Brings a damn tear to my eye. 2023, your move.
As a football fan it is your duty to savor every last tick of that game clock this weekend, and Chiefs vs Jaguars ain’t a bad way to start the weekend.
Two teams that have never met in the playoffs and have only played a total of 14 times since the Jacksonville Jaguars inaugural season in 1995, will clash as the Jaguars make the 1,143 mile trip to Arrowhead Stadium to take on Patrick Mahomes and the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs. They’ll square off Saturday at 4:30 PM EST on NBC.
Kansas City holds an 8-6 all-time record over the Jaguars, winning six in a row spanning back to 2010, including a 27-17 victory in week 10. Can the Trevor Lawrence and the Jags turn the tides for the DUUUVAL faithful? Walk with me and find out.
Chiefs vs Jaguars Tale of the Tape
Jacksonville is the darlings of the playoffs, turning around an abysmal 2-6 start to their season and winning their final five games to win the AFC South. After storming back from a 27-0 deficit against Justin Herbert’s Los Angeles Chargers in the Wildcard Round it’s fair to wonder how much longer the proverbial house is going to let them play on their dime.
Led by the moxy of their second year signal caller, the Jaguars stormed into the playoffs beating the then division leading Tennessee Titans twice. Lawrence’s resolve may be as important as his talent. After a sluggish start to the season (10tds – 6ints) he went on a heater tossing 15tds and only 2ints in the final nine games of the season.
The former number one overall pick’s mental toughness brought them from the depths of the AFC cellar to the cream of the crop in the AFC South division. There was no greater microcosm of both the Jaguars and Lawrence’s season than their Wildcard victory. After trailing 27-0 on the heels of a four interception performance, Trevor Lawrence pulled himself up by his boot straps and went to work.
Tossing four touchdowns and even going rogue on a two-point conversion and calling his own number to bring Jacksonville within 10 points. The Jaguars defense that were on their heels all game suddenly caught that same momentum and held the high octane Chargers to only three points in the second half giving the offense a chance at doing the unthinkable.
Safe to say Doug Pederson has had his squad in playoff mode for the past two months and it has given flashes of the 2011 Giants run into the playoffs — nobody thought they’d even win a game let alone dismantling the 15-1 Packers in Lambeau. Could this have the same storybook ending?
I would venture to say it wouldn’t exactly be totally crazy to think it’s possible. Shoot, just last year the Bengals were the Cinderella story seemingly playing with house money all the way to the Super Bowl. Their path was very similar, as they had to beat Kansas City in Arrowhead as well.
In reality, that sentiment isn’t being shared by even the most faithful Jags fans. At least not openly. But, often times when the football world is zigging, what’s happening on the field is actually zagging. In other words, you never know!
The new-look Kansas City Chiefs offense has seemingly not missed a single beat. Did a shot of new blood inject a little more juice into the locker room? Was it Mahomes doubling his dad strength? Did Matt Nagy bring back some of his magic? Joking, they (I) don’t call him No Magic Matt for no reason.
Despite the offense clicking on all cylinders the Chiefs have managed to find themselves in ten one score games going 7-3 in such affairs. Best guess for Andy Reid’s guys is they know where they’re going and they know a win is a win — no style points required. If that is the case, sleep walking your way to a 14-3 record and the top seed in a loaded AFC is mighty impressive.
Helps when your quarterback arguably could win MVP every season and nobody would really have a problem with it. Over 5,600 total yards and 45 total touchdowns after the team dumped your best receiver in the offseason? Yeah, that should do it.
Kansas City has been, still is, and likely will continue to be the class of the AFC as long as Andy Reid is still coaching and Patty Mahomes is healthy. Nothing else really seems to matter considering the receiving core consists of Travis Kelce and a bunch of threes and fours. It is just downright impressive, and slightly annoying what they got cookin’ over their on 1 Arrowhead Drive.
The biggest hurdle for the Chiefs this week will be to not overlook the Jaguars and peek into next week. If they do, they could end up sitting at their lockers wondering what the hell happened while Trevor Lawrence and co. are booking their flights to Buffalo or Cincinnati (I know they have a team plane).
By all accounts the Chiefs SHOULD handle business and be prepping to host the championship game next week (Bills/Chiefs rematch anyone?), but playing a team that has been in playoff mode for the last two months of the season has proven to be dangerous time and time again.
The Jaguars have already proven no lead is too big for them to overcome, and Lawrence has proven he is a top five quarterback in the conference. Will it be his time to take the thrown or will Mahomes have to remind the young pup where he stands?
Chiefs vs Jaguars Prediction
I suspect the Chiefs are too talented, have far too much playoff experience, and Arrowhead will prove to be a tad bit more than their formidable foes from Duval County bargained for.
Mahomes will continue his streak of never not making it to the conference championship game while the Jaguars are sent packing with an important learning experience and another offseason to continue building around their franchise QB.
The future has not yet arrived and the Chiefs reign continues. I am taking Kansas City to cover the nine point spread in a shootout despite Lawrence’s best attempt to mount another miracle comeback.
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