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Jacksonville Jaguars vs Kansas City Chiefs preview: 3 matchups to watch, game info, prediction

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs were at opposite ends of the NFL standings one year ago. Now, fans are excited for a must-see matchup between Trevor Lawrence and Patrick Mahomes in the Jaguars vs Chiefs AFC Divisional Round game.

While both teams have franchise quarterbacks and Super Bowl-winning coaches, their paths to get here were very different. Jacksonville went a combined 4-29 from 2020-’21, earning the No. 1 overall pick in consecutive years before earning their stripes this season.

Related: NFL playoff predictions

As for Kansas City, it won a Super Bowl in 2020 with Mahomes and Andy Reid leading this team to a 26-7 record in the regular season in the next two years. The Chiefs have made the playoffs in eight consecutive years, whereas this is Jacksonville’s second postseason appearance since 2008.

With the pre-game storylines out of the way, let’s dive into the matchup itself.

Jaguars vs Chiefs game info

Here’s all the game info you need to know for Saturday’s matchup between the Jaguars and Chiefs.

Jaguars vs Chiefs odds

Here are the latest odds for the Cheifs vs Jaguars matchup, via BetMGM.

  • Spread: -8.5, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Point Total: 51.5 points
  • Moneyline: Jacksonville Jaguars (+333), Kansas City Chiefs (-350)

Related: Top NFL free agents 2023

Jaguars vs Chiefs matchups to watch

Our statistics used to analyze these matchups are courtesy of Pro Football Focus, ESPN and Football Outsiders.

Chris Jones vs Jaguars’ interior offensive line

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Lawrence certainly didn’t enjoy facing Kansas City in Week 10. He suffered a season-high five sacks, five QB hurries and was pressured on nine of his dropbacks. Keep in mind, this was before rookie pass rusher George Karlaftis really started to settle in and Frank Clark was inactive.

Chris Jones is why the Chiefs’ pass rush was so effective. He accounted for 50% of Kansas City’s pressure in Week 10, tacking on two sacks of his own. Jacksonville never had an answer, with guard Brandon Scherff allowing three pressures and two sacks. Of greater concern for the Jaguars, left tackle Jawaan Taylor is out and that means Walker Little (59.9 PFF pass block grade) starts.

  • Chris Jones stats vs Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 10): 4 pressures, 2 sacks, 2 hurries

All of this matters because Lawrence is a very different quarterback under pressure. As his performance against the Los Angeles Chargers demonstrated – a 22.2% completion rate, 2 INTs – defenders in his face can rattle him.

Trevor Lawrence splitsQB RatingPFF gradeCompletion Rate
vs Pressure55.235.149.7%
vs Clean Pocket105.991.471.8%
Statistics among 40 NFL quarterbacks with at least 200 dropbacks

In order for the Jaguars to pull off the upset, they either need a season-best performance from their offensive line or Lawrence needs to pull a Joe Burrow with quick, accurate throws before the pressure gets home.

Patrick Mahomes vs Jacksonville Jaguars defense

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Mahomes made light work of the Jaguars’ defense in their last meeting. While he threw one interception, the NFL MVP also posted his third-highest passer rating (129.6) of the year with four touchdowns, 331 passing yards and a 74.3% completion rate.

  • Jacksonville Jaguars defense (Week 16-WC): 72.3 QB rating allowed, 2-2 TD-INT, 12 sacks, 5.2 yards per attempt, 59.7% completion rate, 193 pass ypg allowed, 91 rush ypg allowed

We’ve seen improvements in this unit since then. The pass-rushing trio of Josh Allen, Arden Key and Travon Walker is becoming far more effective. Meanwhile, second-year cornerback Tyson Campbell is emerging as a shutdown defensive back. Since Week 14, Campbell has allowed just 74 receiving yards on 22 targets in his direction.

The problem for Jacksonville is pressuring Mahomes. Blitzing isn’t the answer, he is one of the most efficient passers in NFL history against the blitz. When operating from a clean pocket, though, Mahomes led the NFL in quarterback rating (118.2), PFF grade (94.2), completion rate (75.6%) and passing touchdowns (29).

Christian Kirk vs Trent McDuffie

NFL: AFC Wild Card Round-Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Months after Jacksonville was blasted for the Christian Kirk contract, its front office now looks brilliant. The 5-foot-11 receiver set career-highs in targets (133), receptions (84), receiving yards (1,108) and touchdowns (eight). Far more importantly, he provided Lawrence with a go-to receiver and it led to a 104.7 QB rating when Kirk was targeted this season.

Kirk played approximately 66.3% of his snaps in the slot during the regular season, averaging around 20 snaps per game out wide. It means we’ll likely see him lined up against Chiefs’ rookie cornerback Trent McDuffie.

McDuffie, the 21st overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, enjoyed an excellent rookie season in pass coverage. Kanas City became more comfortable lining him up in the slot down the stretch, aligning him on the inside for 120 snaps after playing just 18 in his previous seven games.

If McDuffie contains Kirk, the entire Jaguars’ offense suffers. Lawrence only posted an 84.9 QB rating when he targeted Marvin Jones from Weeks 10-18 and Zay Jones’ inconsistency means there is added volatility for this passing attack. Of course, the challenge for Kansas City is Jaguars’ head coach Doug Pederson is one of the most creative minds in the NFL and he will find explosive plays.

Jaguars vs Chiefs prediction

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville is an ascending team, so this likely won’t be the last Jaguars vs Cheifs playoff matchup. However, inexperience and key weaknesses put them at a significant disadvantage on the road in a hostile environment. Lawrence will make some jaw-dropping throws and Travis Etienne might find a few running lanes against Kansas City’s defense.

Ultimately, the Chiefs have the best player in the NFL and their advantages in the trenches strengthen their chances of winning even further. Coming off a bye week, Reid’s team should roll to a decisive victory thus earning its fifth consecutive AFC Championship Game appearance.

  • Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 34, Jacksonville Jaguars 21