One of the highlights of the Week 5 NFL schedule is a showdown between the Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 EST on Sunday, October 7, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. Large portions of the country will be able to watch this game on CBS.
The Chiefs are listed as 3-point favorites at home. The over/under for this game is set at 49 points. Be sure to check out a full list of this week’s NFL betting odds.
The Chiefs are one of only two teams that survived the month of September undefeated. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes has become an instant star and is leading one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL. The Chiefs have scored no less than 27 points in all four games this season, as they have been nearly impossible to stop.
Perhaps the most impressive part of their fast start is that three of their four wins have come on the road. Road wins against the Chargers, Steelers, and Broncos have left no doubt that Mahomes and the Chiefs are for real and perhaps the team to beat in the AFC this season.
Of course, the Jaguars would like to dispute the Chiefs being the team to beat in the AFC. Following their run to the AFC Championship Game last season, the Jags are proving that they are once again one of the top teams in football. Jacksonville’s win over Tom Brady and the Patriots in Week 2 is proof of that.
It hasn’t always been pretty for the Jaguars, who continue to be inconsistent offensively behind Blake Bortles. If not for a frustrating 9-6 loss to the Titans a couple weeks ago, the Jags would still be among the NFL’s undefeated teams. However, Jacksonville owns the best defense in football after four games, which makes them just as dangerous as the Chiefs but in a different way.
This is a classic battle between an elite offense and an elite defense. Typically, I like to side with the better defensive team in these situations, and I’ll stick with that philosophy for this game. If there’s one team in football that may be able to stop the Chiefs, it’s probably the Jaguars. With three extra points, I’ll lean toward Jacksonville to at least beat the spread.
It’s tough to find any flaws in Kansas City’s offense, but the Broncos did a nice job of keeping them contained for a little over three quarters last week. The Chiefs had just 13 points until their incredible 4th quarter comeback. Granted, the Broncos had the home crowd behind them in that game, but they may have provided the Jaguars with a blueprint for slowing down the Chiefs. Jacksonville’s defense probably has more talent than the Broncos, so they should be able to find ways to get Mahomes and the Chiefs out of rhythm.
If there’s one thing that concerns me a little about Kansas City’s offense it could be a lack of diversity. Running back Kareem Hunt has not been utilized that much in the passing game. With Sammy Watkins banged up and questionable to play this week, the Chiefs are limited to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce in the passing game. That’s not a bad duo to have, but given the depth of Jacksonville’s secondary, they may have the personnel to keep those two under wraps. Specifically, if the Jags can limit Hill’s big-play ability and work to limit Kelce in the red zone, they will have won a huge battle against the Chiefs.
Of course, no one’s expecting the Jaguars to pitch a shutout against the Chiefs, so the Jacksonville offense will have to play an important role in keeping the game close. Unfortunately, Bortles and company aren’t always reliable, as was evidenced by the team’s six-point output in their loss to Tennessee. Another huge concern for the Jaguars is the absence of running back Leonard Fournette. When the Jags are at their best offensively, they’re usually leaning heavily on Fournette to carry the load, a luxury they won’t have this week.
If there’s a silver lining it’s that Kansas City’s defense has been terrible this season. The Chiefs are giving up nearly 29 points per game. The question is whether the Jaguars are good enough to take advantage of such a porous defense. The key could be backup running back T.J. Yeldon. He’s not quite the power back that Fournette is, but he’ll face a defense that’s yielding 5.7 yards per carry this season. If Yeldon can have that kind of success, it’ll put Bortles in a good position to make plays against a vulnerable Chiefs secondary.
Obviously, winning at Arrowhead is no easy task, especially when the Chiefs are this good. However, between their top-ranked defense and their ability to run the ball, the Jaguars have the tools to give Kansas City trouble. I expect this to be a close game, so I’ll take my chances with Jacksonville being able to beat the 3-point spread.