Have the Jaguars a chance for an upset today?

I looked the predictions in every major (and minor) NFL related site; yet I didn’t saw anywhere that somebody is picked the Jaguars for this game. And I don’t blame them. They played embarrassingly on Monday Night; they will most likely play without neither David Garrard nor Trent Edwards; and the starting QB for today will be most likely Todd Bouman; a guy who not thrown a pass in a regular game since 2005; and his record as a starter is 1-5. The one and only game where he was the starter and won was in 2001. Just for the record; back then the Jaguars was coached by Tom Coughlin and the starting QB was Mark Brunell. David Garrard was still the QB of East Carolina and only Brad Meester was with the team from the current roster…And they playing against Kansas who all of sudden looking like the best team in the AFC West; and 2 bad 4th quarter showing (and a very bad decision by the referees on the Texans game) separating them from being 5-0. Not to mention they were the last team with a perfect record; and still unbeaten at the newly renovated Arrowhead Stadium. So the odds are clearly against the Jaguars; but can they pull an upset?

 In my opinion; they can do it; even with Todd Bouman at QB; but they must play the way they performed against the Broncos or the Colts. The Jaguars have a bit luck with the Kansas offense. They are just like the Titans a running first team (currently leading the NFL in that category). The way the Jaguars D-line is playing this year; I’m confident that Knighton and co. can limit the ground attack. Plus 2 of the “3 headed beast” is not unfamiliar for them The Jaguars saw Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones (then as a Jet) last year in action. The only back (?) the Jaguars never played against is one of the rookie contributors of the Chiefs; WR/RB Dexter McCluster.  A very strong part of the Chiefs offense is their O-line. GM Scott Pioli once again showed everyone; that he can build a franchise; and one of the example what he built there in the last 2 years. That offensive line gave up the least sacks so far (4); and playing very good at pass protection and run support. The only weakpoint is still Brandon Albert in my opinion (You know him; his reputation is “the guy Eugene Monroe kept in guard at Virginia”). Aaron Kampman (with 10 quarterback hits and 4 sacks, no player has hit the quarterback as much as him) can handle the young LT in my opinion… Kansas got some impressive pass catchers including WR duo Dwayne Bowe and Chris Chambers; plus another Chief rookie sensation TE Tony Moeaki. Sounds like a threat? Yeah; but let’s not forget the biggest weakpoint of the whole Chiefs team: Matt Cassel. He is playing like a game manager at best; and he is pretty much a David Garrard caliber QB. Now I know the Jaguars secondary can make every QB look like a Pro Bowler (To illustrate this here is a fact: Don Carey as a new starter will be the 11th starting safety since ’07…); but I hope Mathis and the now healthy Cox can limit the Chargers passing game.

 If we turn our attention to the Jaguars offense versus the Chiefs defense; I can see not so many great things. The Chiefs biggest weakness is defending the pass, but who knows what we can expect from Todd Bouman? The only positive (kind of) hint is Mike Sims Walker’s (in some degree disturbing-but that’s another story for another day) comments about Bouman’s passes:  

 ”With Todd, he’s going to throw a certain ball that you don’t normally get thrown your way. There’s ain’t no such thing as just a dummy route with Todd or a give-up route. You’ve got to be on high alert every time you run a route because there’s a possibility it’s coming to you.”

I guess it means (at least for me) that Bouman is good throwing the deep ball. Yeah it was a long-long time ago; but back in 2001; he had a 80-yard TD pass to then Vikings RB Michael Bennett; and a 74 yard TD pass to randy Moss. In his only victory as a starter; Todd had a very good game: 21/31; 348 yards and 4 TDs. I don’t know how rusty he is; but if he can do just the half of that without turning the ball over; the Jaguars might have a pretty good chance to win. Another fact that can boost the chances is that lately no matter who was the back up QB who must step in for the injured Nr. 1 signal caller (David Garrard or Quinn Gray) the Jaguars always won their 1st game under the new starter – in tough looking games (’06 Garrard in Philadelphia; ’07 Gray against Tampa Bay).Maybe history will once again rereat itself for the favor of the Jags….

By the way; if I mentioned turnover; let’s stop here a bit. The Jaguars are now having a -7 overall TO ratio. That is not going to win too many games. In every loss the Jaguars lost the turnover battle; meanwhile 2 out of the 3 victories; they protected the ball; and had 2 turnovers (The only exception of the rule is the Bills game; when the Jaguars lost the ball 3 times.) Another trend which must be stopped; that the Jaguars lost the ball 7 times in the last 2 games; and not forced a turnover in any of those. To have a chance to win game; the defense must get the ball-maybe multiple times; and the offense can’t turn it over. The problem is; the Chiefs turned the ball over only 4 times this season.

 The other disadvantage for the Jags in this game is the Chiefs run defense. Romeo Crennel made a huge impact as defensive coordinator; and the best to observe it is clearly the Chiefs front 7. Ron Edwards; Glenn Dorsey; Mike Vrabel(don’t let him make a play on offense- so far every time if he caught a pass; it was a TD….); and Derrick Johnson are all playing on a high level. But the real deal is Tamba Hali. He is the playmaker of the Chiefs defense; so far he recorded 4.5 sacks. He can play in both sides; which is bad news for the Jaguars. Even for Eugene Monroe Hali would mean a huge challenge. But maybe Eben Briton will see the most out of him; which is a concern. Because in the last 2 games; especially vs. the Titans Eben once again struggled. I think another key for the Jaguars is not letting Bouman being sacked! And I’m not sure Eben can handle the challenge what Tamba Hali is representing. Another contributer of the Chiefs run D is 7th overall pick Eric Berry. He is so far having issues in the pass coverage; but he is fantastic against the run. Unless Maurice Jones Drew (and/or the 2 other backs) not having a career day; I don’t think the Jaguars can win this game just on the ground….

 The battle of the ST units will bean interesting one. Here are some stunning statistics. In every major ST category (except average net of punting) the Chiefs are in the Top 4! The Chiefs lead in opposing field position (25.8); Opposing kickoff return average (16.2) and 20+ yards punt returns (4). Jaguars fans consider that Jacksonville has the best ST unit in the NFL. After seeing these statistics I would disagree with that…KC has two fantastic rookie returners (McCluster and CB Javier Arenas) so the Jags ST unit is better be aware about both of them. (By the way-I wrote down “fantastic rookie” around the 4th time in this article. Kansas City have a blockbuster draft this year with Berry; McCluster; Moeaki, Arenas…) Today we will see how good Osgood; Owens; Karim and Scobee (he is along with Seahawks K Orlindo Mare he remained the only perfect kicker this season) are…

And why I think the Jaguars have a chance to win? Kansas City is reminding me of the Jets game last year. Both teams (Chiefs and Jets) have multiple things in common: a very strong defense; Nr. 1 running game; and both team are coming from a tough loss. In both games Jacksonville is/was the clear underdog.  But the biggest reason the Jaguars might win this game is they have to win this one!  They were on the crossroads before that Jets game; and in my opinion; they are already there again. If the Jaguars lose this game; they most likely out of the race for the division title; maybe from the playoffs as well. So clearly the stakes are high; and Jack Del Rio and his team must find a way to win this ball game. If not; then next week it will be the start of the “or else” period in Jacksonville.

Prediction: Jaguars 24- Chiefs 23

Zoltan Paksa

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