The most hyped matchup of the young season will happen in Kansas City on Sunday, when the Kansas City Chiefs’ top-scoring offense will take on Jacksonville’s No. 1 scoring defense.
With Patrick Mahomes already playing like a wunderkind quarterback, the Chiefs are averaging 36.2 points a game and the Jaguars are giving just 14 points a game.
It will be the biggest test yet for Mahomes and the Chiefs’ high-flying offense.
Ditto for a Jaguars defense that has yet to face an offense as potent as that of the Chiefs.
Still, despite all the hype, this matchup may not decide the game.
The matchup of the Jaguars’ 22nd-ranked scoring offense averaging 22 points a game vs. the Chiefs 25th scoring defense allowing 28.8 points a game may be more critical in deciding the game.
The Jaguars don’t have a great offense and the Chiefs dont’t have a great defense, so it is kind of a tossup.
It’s also important to note that the Jaguars aren’t going to allow just three field goals the way they did against Tennessee. They might allow only 17 points or so, but it is difficult to imagine the Chiefs being held under that point total.
Remember last year, the Jaguars gave up 44 to San Francisco, 37 to Tennessee and 42 to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a playoff victory.
And they couldn’t hold a 10-point lead against the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter of the AFC title game. Tom Brady beat their defense on a 3rd-and-18 play to keep the New England comeback alive.
The sport at the NFL level is so skewed to the quarterbacks these days that even a good defense can be burned.
So the real question may be how well the Jaguars can play against the Chiefs’ suspect defense.
That may come down to how inconsistent quarterback Blake Bortles plays. The Jaguars never know which Bortles will show up. Tennessee held him to two field goals a week ago and then he threw for 388 yards against the Jets last week.
The Jaguars were supposed to be a power running team built around Leonard Fournette, but he has hamstring issues and will miss his third game against the Chiefs.
That puts more pressure on Bortles.
He will have opportunities because the Chiefs don’t have a top tier defense. But can he take advantage of them? Even Bortles has said he is not a natural thrower of the football.
So while all the attention will go to Mahomes taking on the Jaguars defense, the matchup that will likely determine the game will be Bortles vs. the Jaguars defense.
It is unlikely the Jaguars defense can win this game on its own. It will need help from Bortles. He doesn’t have to outplay Mahomes. But he has to put at least one more point on the board than the defense allows if they are to hand the Chiefs their first loss of the season.