As the emotions of week one finally settle, Jacksonville Jaguars fans are ready to turn their attention to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Before looking at what to expect from the Jags matchup with the defending champs, here's a look back at what happened in Week 1.
The Jaguars won in Week 1 while not playing their best game
Although some Jaguars fans were disappointed by the performance of the team's offense, it still must be noted that even on an off day, the team was able to score 31 points. No one is going to confuse the 2023 Colts with a playoff team, but they are a professional squad, and the Jaguars were able to handle their business on an off day.
It's been a long time since the Jacksonville franchise has been able to do that. One year ago, fans were jubilant whenever their team was able to scratch out a victory, by any means necessary. It often felt like any mistake would lead to a loss. Now, the team can endure the oddest of plays and still overcome. That represents tremendous growth over the past year.
The Offensive line was a bit shaky. But, the Colts' defensive line is legit, and the OL did enough to allow Trevor Lawrence and his cast of playmakers to score points. Lawrence, in particular, made some jaw-dropping throws:
Improved offensive Line play will be required for the team to reach its goals. But the offensive line started a bit shaky in 2022 before rounding into form. So, there's reason to hope the same will happen in 2023.
The Jaguars defense played very well vs. the Colts
While watching the game real-time, fans may not have realized how well the defense played. Again, nobody thinks dominating a rookie quarterback making his first start for a less-than-super-talented Colts squad means the Jags are going to be the '85 Bears. But, they were still able to hold the Colts to only 14 points, and 280 yards, while forcing three turnovers.
The pass rush seemed to show up, but it's to be determined if Josh Allen, who was credited with three sacks, and Travon Walker will be able to sustain pressure throughout the season. Cornerback Tyson Campbell continues to excel and may be playing himself into a superstar role.
Main takeaway from the Jaguars' first win of the 2023 season
Fans are probably sick of hearing "a win is a win" this week. However, it's true and is worth repeating. The Jags are already alone on top of the AFC South, and were able to get there without their best offensive effort - which is actually a good thing. Teams are not going to play their best every week, and winning under those circumstances is a plus.
Turning toward Week 2 and the Kansas City Chiefs
A wounded bear is a dangerous bear, and that's what the Kansas City Chiefs are this weekend at the Bank. Historically, less than ten percent of teams that start 0-2 in the NFL are able to make the playoffs. The Chiefs are assuredly aware of that stat, and are undoubtedly determined to avoid it. Patrick Mahomes remains arguably the best player in the NFL, and he's likely none too happy coming off the team's performance last week.
In addition to living with the sting of a Week 1 loss to Detroit since last Thursday, the Chiefs are expected to get professional game-wrecker Chris Jones back on their D-Line, and the prospects for getting professional Jaguars-wrecker Travis Kelce seem greater than perhaps expected.
"“I did run yesterday and it feels like I might be able to play this week. We’ll see how practice goes.”"- Travis Kelce, New Heights Podcast
Perhaps it would be a bit easier to take on the defending Super Bowl Champs if a few more intangibles were in Jacksonville's favor. However, the Jags do get the Chiefs at home, in their home-opener, in September when the weather is still potentially brutal.
The Jags were able to give the Chiefs all they wanted in the playoffs last February, so they should have confidence that they can go toe to toe with the defending champs. But, the Chiefs will remember that as well, and be ready. The Jaguars are no longer the plucky newcomers of the NFL.
One of the main storylines from the playoff game was Travis Kelce. The tight end roasted the Jaguars secondary for 14 catches and two touchdowns. The Jags have had an entire off-season to examine their defense of Kelce and the Chiefs' passing attack as a whole.
Even if the Jaguars do improve their defensive effort against an angry Chiefs squad, they will almost certainly need to score more than the 20 points they scored in February to win. With the addition of wide receiver Calvin Ridley, the Jags' offense may have made the jump from good to elite.
Ridley showed signs in Week 1 of being a true "No. 1" receiver many observers expected. Even in a bit of a clunky performance, the Jags' offense didn't have enough balls to go around for all of their playmakers, as last year's leading receiver Christian Kirk had only a single catch.
If the Jags' offense can continue to fine-tune itself, they could become the type of offense that can answer score-for-score even with an elite offense like the Chiefs.
Finally, the Jags have a low-key advantage lurking beneath the radar. Last week, the Chiefs were upended by the Detroit Lions on Thursday night football. The Lions are a good team that also beat the Jaguars in the regular season last year.
But, the Jags also shared a couple of training camp practices with the Lions before their preseason game this year, and proved without a doubt that they are at least as good at Detroit, if not better. It's unlikely the Jaguars players needed any additional confidence going into Sunday, but if they do, they need look no further than their preseason sessions with the Lions.