Could this really happen as the Jaguars face the Chiefs in the first game of the NFL regular season?
It was 25 years ago that changed the fortunes of the city of Jacksonville. The Jaguars officially played an NFL football game. And as fans will tell you, there has been a love-hate affair with this team over the quarter-century that isn’t unique to the NFL, but it has caused a lot of passion and heartache along the way.
These Jaguars, a roster full of new faces, get ready to face the Kansas City Chiefs today to begin a trek back to the playoffs, to erase demons of last season.
It’s not an easy task. The Chiefs are the NFL’s most explosive offense and have the reigning MVP at quarterback in Patrick Mahomes. If anything, this is a challenge the Jaguars want early in the season, testing how good they can be. Playing the best makes this team better in all areas of football.
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Head coach Doug Marrone and his staff have prepared the team this week through a hurricane and more injuries to the offensive line. No one said this Sunday would be easy.
As I look into the Magic 8-Ball, I see a team looking to make a huge statement this week. What better way than to knock off the team favored to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl? If that is to happen, a few things must play out. Here are a few bold predictions for Sunday’s game.
Chris Conley catches three touchdown passes – The talk early on during OTA’s and training camp was the one deniable chemistry between Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles and his former Kansas City Chiefs teammate Chris Conley. As training camp moved into the preseason, the Jaguars coaching staff saw a noticeable connection between the quarterback and wide receiver Dede Westbrook.
Both wide receivers figure to be prime targets in the passing offense this weekend.
Given that Conley spent last season with the Chiefs and it was not brought back, would it fuel the fire for him to have a huge day for the Jaguars?
I don’t think it’s a stretch to expect one touchdown catch from No. 18, but three on the day would be fantastic.
The defense records eight sacks – Fans got a small sample size or what the first-team defense may do this season in the preseason game against the Miami Dolphins.
If the team is that successful against the Chiefs with edge rusher Josh Allen leading the way, it could be a long afternoon for Mahomes.
Of course, this isn’t the preseason and Kansas City is much better than Miami.
This is also what I believe will be the beginning of a career season and for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. The two young pass rushers could have a field day in the Chiefs backfield.
Under normal circumstances, I would say this is a good thing. But unless they can actually get to Mahomes and force him to make mistakes out of the pocket, the defense could be in for a long afternoon.
I still believe the Jaguars pass rush will be new and improved in the season with different sub-packages to take advantage of this team’s speed.
The offensive line pitches a shutout – Fans will have the opportunity to see if the Jaguars offensive line is much better than it was last season. This means Jawaan Taylor, Jacksonville’s right tackle, and left tackle Will Richardson do a good job of protecting Foles and the offensive line helps create running lanes for the running backs.
I’m curious to see how the Chiefs use Frank Clark against a unit that is still suspect. And somehow, the storyline to follow will be with cash pressure, either Clark or Ngakoue has a better game.
There are also other subplots to follow. The strength of the interior offensive line. Does the right side of the line with Taylor and right guard A.J. Cann, look better? Can Brandon Linder stay healthy? Also, will Andrew Norwell live up to the hefty contract the Jaguars gave him last off-season?
If this unit plays well both Foles and running back Leonard Fournette could have a big day.