After a breakout season in 2018, the Kansas City Chiefs will begin their 2019 season with a road game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kickoff will commence at 1:00 EST on Sunday, September 8 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. Fans in large areas of the country will be able to watch the game on CBS.
At the moment, oddsmakers list the Chiefs as 3.5-point favorites at home. The over/under for the game is set at 52 points. Click here to check out a full list of this week’s NFL odds.
As mentioned, the Chiefs are coming off an incredible season in 2018. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes emerged as the NFL’s next great star, leading Kansas City to a 12-4 record and the top overall seed in the AFC. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, they lost to the Patriots in overtime of the AFC Championship Game, falling one game short of reaching the Super Bowl. However, most believe the Chiefs are set up for long-term success with Mahomes and will be one of the favorites to reach the Super Bowl this season.
The Jaguars can actually relate to Kansas City’s 2018 season. Jacksonville was the biggest surprise team of the 2017 season and ultimately reached the AFC Championship Game before losing to the Patriots. However, they failed to sustain that success in 2018. After a promising 3-1 start, the Jaguars finished the year 5-11. Despite the poor record, head coach Doug Marrone was retained but the team parted ways with quarterback Blake Bortles. The Jags have brought in Nick Foles with the hope that he can work his magic in Jacksonville two seasons after winning Super Bowl MVP honors.
When these two teams met in Week 5 of last season it was seen as a matchup between an elite offense facing an elite defense. But that is not how things played out. The Jaguars actually out-gained the Chiefs by racking up over 500 yards of offense. However, it was the Kansas City defense that forced five turnovers, including a pick-six to sprint to a 20-0 halftime lead, ultimately winning 30-14. Naturally, the Jaguars are hoping for a better result on their home field this time around.
To be honest, this is a tricky game to predict. There’s a lot we don’t know about the Jaguars, not to mention a lot of uncertainty about the Kansas City defense. That being said, the safest bet is that the Kansas City offense will be the best unit on the field. That should be enough for the Chiefs to cover the 3.5-point spread, even on the road.
It seems almost impossible to fathom Mahomes and the Kansas City offense becoming a one-season wonder. The Chiefs have so much talent around him with incredible speed at wide receiver complemented by the league’s best tight end Travis Kelce. Even if there’s some question about Damien Williams remaining productive as the primary running back all season, the Chiefs have added LeSean McCoy as their backup late in the preseason to help solidify the Kansas City backfield.
Of course, we can’t forget that the Jaguars should have one of the best defenses in the NFL this year. Even when the Jags went 5-11 last year, they were still near the top of the league in yards allowed and points conceded. Defensive ends Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue have a chance to push through a questionable Kansas City offensive line and apply pressure on Mahomes. Plus, cornerback Jalen Ramsey will relish the opportunity to keep Tyreek Hill contained. If the Jags can succeed in those two areas, they may have a chance to keep the Chiefs somewhat contained.
On the other side of the ball, the Kansas City defense could be the ultimate X-factor in this game. The Chiefs parted ways with Justin Houston and Dee Ford, the two bright spots on last year’s defense, and exchanged them for players like Frank Clark and Alex Okafor who are better fits for the new 4-3 scheme. The Chiefs are also hopeful that Tyrann Mathieu and Bashaud Breeland and help turnaround a secondary that was one of the worst in the NFL last year. On paper, the talent has certainly improved, but it remains to be seen how quickly the Chiefs will get all of those new pieces on the same page.
To be fair, there is just as much uncertainty about the Jacksonville offense. The Jaguars hope that Leonard Fournette can get back on track and carry the offense the way he did in 2017. Meanwhile, the assumption is that Foles will be an upgrade over Bortles. But Jacksonville is still lacking top-flight receivers, even if Marqise Lee is healthy enough to play. The likes of Dede Westbrook and DJ Chark offer promise but few guarantees, especially with a new quarterback.
In the end, this game might be the biggest mystery of Week 1. Outside of the Kansas City offense, I’m not sure what to expect. But I do feel certain that the Chiefs will be able to score points. For me, that’s enough to lean toward Kansas City to cover a 3.5-point spread.