With David Garrard suffering a concussion and Trent Edwards hurting his thumb, the Jaguars’ starting quarterback will likely be a player who wasn’t on the team’s roster until this week. That’s not a good situation for a team that was bounced on national television this past week by the Tennessee Titans. The Chiefs’ defense, after its own disappointing loss at Houston, could use an advantage after allowing the Texans to score touchdowns on their final four possessions last Sunday.
Keys for the Chiefs
• The defense must bounce back. Coordinator Romeo Crennel’s unit had been one of the NFL’s most surprising defenses in the first five weeks, but it looked unprepared against the Texans. Players said there was an overall lack of focus, and that was apparent when Kansas City was unable to generate much of a pass rush, and the young and talented secondary struggled to keep tabs on Andre Johnson. If the Chiefs are to continue their unexpected rise, it’ll fall on the defense’s shoulders more often than not.
• The Chiefs have to rely on their rushers. Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles combined for 193 of the Chiefs’ 228 rushing yards against Houston, and that normally is a path toward a victory. Jones and Charles are one of the NFL’s best one-two rushing punches, but their success last week came as a result of quarterback Matt Cassel’s best game with Kansas City. Cassel isn’t always so reliable, so the Chiefs need Jones and Charles to pick up the slack.
Keys for the Jaguars
• Its quarterback has to pick up the offense quickly. Jacksonville is in a bad spot with Garrard and Edwards likely out, and Todd Bouman and Patrick Ramsey probably in. The Jaguars have to hope one of the two veteran passers can absorb the offense, do it quickly, and hope that running back Maurice Jones-Drew has a good enough game that the pressure doesn’t fall on the quarterback’s shoulders.
• The Jaguars defense has to improve. Jacksonville’s defense is ranked 27th in the NFL, and it’s not a good sign that its rush defense is ranked in the bottom half of the league, too. The Jags have to do something to stop the Chiefs’ talented rushers and force Cassel to beat them. That would put Kansas City at a disadvantage, but the Jaguars haven’t proved yet that they’re capable stopping even average offenses.
The Chiefs have several clear advantages, including that they’re returning to Arrowhead Stadium for the first time in a month. But that doesn’t mean they’re a sure thing. Kansas City’s defense raised plenty of questions last week, and its offense has raised questions throughout the first half of the season. Still, the Chiefs should have enough to beat a team without a solid quarterback situation or a reliable defense. Chiefs 27–20