How Can The Jaguars Upset The Chiefs In The 2023 NFL Playoff Divisional Round

In this week’s edition of David v. Goliath, the Jacksonville Jaguars are headed to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the mighty Kansas City Chiefs. It’s safe to say if Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars commit 5 turnovers in the first half again and spot the Chiefs a 27-0 lead, they will not be advancing to the AFC Championship Game. After starting the season 4-8, it’s already impressive the Jaguars won the AFC South and a playoff game. But now they face the Andy Reid Chiefs coming off a bye with Patrick Mahomes maybe putting in his best season as the favorite for MVP. It would seem they have no hope in beating the 14-3 and #1 seed Chiefs, but this article’s about finding out how they can make the impossible possible.

The Chiefs beat the Jaguars 27-17 back in week 10. The Jaguars initially spotted the Chiefs a 20-0 lead before making the game closer. Unlike the Chargers, the Chiefs are not prone to collapsing, so the Jaguars will need a better game plan this week than waiting for their opponent to self destruct.

Keys For the Jaguars Offense

Jacksonville JaguarsThe Jaguars will need to match up with the Chiefs offensively to have a shot in this game. While the Jaguars defense has some great young pieces, they still rank bottom 5 in pass yards allowed which does not bode well for them facing the league’s best passer in Patrick Mahomes. If anything, the Jaguars need to entrust in their offense to either keep up or win a shoot out against the Chiefs.

The good news for the Jaguars is their offense has improved tremendously since that first matchup and they go up against a young, inexperienced Chiefs secondary. Since their first matchup versus the Chiefs, Trevor Lawrence has improved significantly and so have the weapons around him. The Jaguars have utilized TE Evan Engram much more in the passing game and he was the team’s leading receiver versus the Chargers last week with 93 yards and a touchdown. Lawrence will need to look for Engram, WR Zay Jones, WR Marvin Jones, and WR Christian Kirk to break free in the Chiefs secondary. The Chiefs are not a great tackling team and missed the 6th most tackles throughout the season. They also were top 10 in allowing yards after the catch. Both of these statistics favor the Jaguars and their playmakers.

Another positive for the Jaguars is the improvement of the offensive line. The Chiefs sacked the Jaguars 5 times in their first matchup, but the Jaguars offensive line has not given up more than 2 sacks in a game since their winning streak began. Chris Jones wrecked havoc through that offensive line, so the Jaguars must have a good plan to keep him contained or get the ball out of Lawrence’s hand quickly to avoid negative plays like these.

Finally, the Jaguars must score points off of turnovers. Though the Jaguars defense isn’t dominant, they did a great job forcing a muffed punt, fumble, and interception in the first matchup. Yet the Jaguars did not score any points off the muffed punt or fumble which kept them from staying close to the Chiefs. When going up against one of the best teams in the league, the Jaguars must take everything given to them.

Keys For the Jaguars Defense

On defense realistically the Jaguars need to hang in there and force some turnovers like last time. The Jaguars forced 0 sacks against Mahomes in the last game and he had all day to throw. It’s no secret that Mahomes is a magician and will certainly make some plays against a developing Jaguars defense.

Jacksonville needs one of the young players on their front 7 to step up and make a crucial play. Between Josh Allen, Trayvon Walker, and Roy Robertson Harris, there’s no better time to break out than in the biggest game of their young career.

What’s also important for the Jaguars is to limit the effect of the Chiefs key playmakers. TE Travis Kelce is easily Mahomes favorite weapon and was also the Chiefs leading receiver when these teams faced off previously recording 81 yards and a touchdown. Mahomes has a slew of weapons, but they aren’t consistent like Kelce and it’s important to take away Mahomes fallback option.

Other Keys for the Jaguars:

One other things pointing in the favor of the Jaguars is the fact that Trevor Lawrence has never lost on a Saturday. Even in his college football days Lawrence was undefeated and kept this streak alive by overcoming a 27 point deficit versus the Chargers. The Chiefs may be the better team, but for the sake of Lawrence’s Saturday record, the Jaguars cannot afford to lose this game.

Additionally, the Chiefs are certainly a powerhouse, but in most games they do not play to their full potential. Whether it’s sloppiness, turnovers, or missing big plays, the Chiefs tend to let lesser opponents stay in the game longer than they should. We’ve seen this countless times throughout the past few seasons, but even when they play sloppy they are never out of the game. The Jaguars need to jump on opportunities when the Chiefs slow down and be ready for a full 60 minute competition.

Finally, Doug Pederson needs to pull some tricks out his sleeve. In the first matchup he started the game with a successful onside kick. The Jaguars are already heavy underdogs in this game and do not really have much to lose. This is the perfect game for Pederson to go for it on 4th down and pull out his top trick plays, fake punts, and reverses to give his young team any edge they can get.

It’s not going to be easy, but the Jaguars have a chance and it’s up to Pederson and his young team to prove everyone wrong.

A UCLA graduate, Eva is an experienced football writer who specializes in NFL game analysis and weekly storylines. In her free time you can usually find her cheering on the 49ers or watching the latest Josh Allen highlight clip.

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