The Jacksonville Jaguars (10-8) look to snap a long losing streak against the Kansas City Chiefs (14-3) in their NFL Divisional playoff game Saturday in Missouri.
The Chiefs have won six straight wins over the Jaguars since 2010 and lead the all-time series 8-6.
The game will feature Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, who leads the NFL with 5,250 yards in the regular season, and Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence, who has 4,113 passing yards in the regular season. Only eight interceptions, the second-lowest rate among quarterbacks with at least 500 pass attempts.
The last time the Jaguars beat the Chiefs was in 2009 when Lawrence was 10 years old.
From a Jaguars-Chiefs match betting standpoint, there’s everything you need here, from point spread, moneyline, totals and expert picks (odds via FOX Bet).
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jacksonville jaguars (10-8) in kansas city chiefs (14-3), 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday, NBC
Spread: Chiefs -9.5 (Chiefs win over 9.5 points, otherwise Jaguars win)
Money line: Chiefs – 500 favorites ($10 bet, total win $12); Jaguars +333 loser wins ($10 bet, total win $43.30)
Total Score Over/Under: The two teams combined for 52.5 points
kansas city chiefs
Picked by FOX Sports NFL Analysts jeff schwartz:
Led by coach Andy Reed and quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs have excelled in both passing and scoring in Game 1 of each postseason. This is their home game, and they don’t face enough opponents to slow down their attack.
The Chiefs scored 31 points against the Colts in the 2018 playoffs and then 51 against the Texans in 2019. In 2020, KC scored just 22 points against the Browns, but remember, Mahomes was injured in the third quarter, and the Chiefs did after he left the game without scoring. Finally, the Chiefs scored 42 points against the Steelers in the wild-card game last season.
This season, the Chiefs are No. 1 in offensive DVOA, No. 1 in offensive EPA, No. 1 in scoring and No. 2 in third-down conversion rate. Jacksonville’s defense finished the regular season 26th in defensive DVOA and 29th in third. Also, the Jaguars’ defense ranks 24th in red zone touchdown percentage. The two teams met in Week 10, a game in which Kansas City scored a mere 27 points and finished poorly with a B-grade. However, I expect the Chiefs to score a lot of points in this game.
Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson said this week that he understands the need for scoring in this game. That means he’ll have an aggressive game plan. It also means the Chiefs will have to match that aggression by scoring themselves.
Pick: Two teams combined to score over 52.5 points on FOX Bet
Insights from FOX Sports Betting Experts warren sharp:
The Kansas City Chiefs have the best offense in the NFL, not even a distant No. 2.
They get first down 31% of early down games. For some perspective, the third most efficient offense in this metric is closer to league average than to the Chiefs.
The Chiefs also had a +0.10 EPA/play in an early slump, also a first in the NFL. The NFL average is -0.02. No other team is higher than +0.04.
It’s also their most effective offense since 2018.
And to illustrate further, the Chiefs’ offense ranks high despite facing the seventh-toughest opponent defensive schedule in the NFL. The Chiefs have had 10 defensive rankings above average this season.
They’ve only played four games against teams in the bottom 10 defensively. They are 4-0 in those games, with an average final score of 33-20.
They faced the 27th-ranked defensive Jaguars.
While the Chiefs’ offense earned their No. 1 the hard way, playing the seventh-toughest schedule, the Jaguars’ No. 27 defense was lucky to play the third-easiest schedule relative to the offense.
Outside of Kansas City, they have only five offenses ranked above average this year:
- Lost to third-ranked Philadelphia 29-21
- lost 23-17 to the 12th-ranked New York Giants
- Lost to sixth-ranked Detroit 40-14
- lost to No. 1 Kansas City 27-17
- 40-34 over No. 14 Dallas
- 28-27 over No. 10 Baltimore
They trailed the Ravens 19-10 and then 27-20 in the fourth quarter before scoring with 14 seconds left and winning the game with a two-point conversion.
They trailed the Cowboys 27-10, 34-31 in the third quarter, then scored in the final quarter to tie the game 34-34 before intercepting a touchdown in overtime to win 40-34.
Bottom line — they’ve scored 31 points per game (PPG) in these games, trailed by an average of 9 points in five of their six games at halftime, and trailed by an average of five of six games entering the fourth quarter 7 points.
Now we know what the Chiefs did against the bottom 10 defense (scored 33 points, 4-0, won by 13 points) and what the Jaguars did against the top 15 offense (allowed 31 points, would have been 0-6, but in order to close the multi-score gap, including the score with less than 15 seconds left in the game, either win or force overtime), let’s look at this game in more detail .
Trevor Lawrence has made notable strides this season working with Doug Pedersen. This year, Lawrence is getting off to a slow start under Pedersen. In the first half, he ranked 23rd in YPA, 14th in EPA/att and 13th in success rate.
But since Week 9, Lawrence has been in the top 10 in all three metrics, with EPA/att coming in second behind Patrick Mahomes.
But one of the areas where Lawrence has excelled is against man defense. In fact, Lawrence is No. 1 in NFL vs. man coverage for the second half of the season.
But while the Chiefs did play their part, they also played at the fourth-highest rate in the NFL and the highest of any team remaining in the playoffs. Lawrence ranks 19th against two-story shell defense. Against non-double highs, he ranked third in EPA/att, but dropped to 19th in the second half of the season.
At their first meeting, he splits:
- Comparing the two highs: -0.24 EPA/att, 29% success, 4.7 YPA, 65% completed 20 fallbacks
- Comparing non-double highs: +0.35 EPA/att, 50% successful, 7.8 YPA, 78% completed 28 fallbacks
The Chiefs would be wise to lower their defensive coverage and lean more toward double-high defense in this game.
Lawrence was very divided when he was under pressure, and the story was similar to the Week 10 game against the Chiefs:
- Pressure: -0.52 EPA/att, 39% success rate, 6.8 YPA, 67% completion rate, 13 fumbles, 5 sacks
- Clean: +0.33 EPA/att, 42% success, 6.4 YPA, 74% completion, 0 sacks in 35 pullbacks
Since the Week 10 game, the Chiefs’ defense ranks fourth in pressure rate.
Lawrence still has issues handling the pressure. Last week’s wild card games:
- Pressure: -1.19 EPA/att, 17% success rate, 1.7 YPA, 22% completion rate, 2 sacks and 2 INTs
- Clean: +0.27 EPA/att, 55% successes, 7.2 YPA, 68% completions, 0 sacks, 4 TDs, 2 INTs
On the other side of the ball, we already mentioned the overall effectiveness of the Chiefs’ offense. But where they should really try to focus on this game is attacking the Jaguars through the air and dramatically increasing their play rate.
The Jaguars are very weak in vs. play action, ranking 26th in EPA/att and 31st in vs. play action this year, and it’s only getting worse.
Since Week 10, the Jaguars are dead last in EPA/att and success rate. Take action in the early game over the first three quarters of the game:
- Compare. Playback operations: +0.44 EPA/att (32nd), 64% success rate (32nd), 9.9 YPA (28th)
- No action: -0.10 EPA/att (8th), 43% success (13th), 5.4 YPA (4th)
The Chiefs don’t use high-frequency play action (20th in usage) because Mahomes doesn’t need it and ranks sixth in EPA/att without it.
But they should definitely reduce their use of RB runs in this game and increase their use of play moves. In their previous Week 10 meeting, the Mahomes went:
- Play Action: +0.72 EPA/att, 71% success, 11.7 YPA, 77% completion, 2:0 TD:INT 14 attempts
- No action: +0.42 EPA/att, 57% success, 8.1 YPA, 73% completion, 2:1 TD:INT 26 attempts
The reason the Chiefs should cut back on the run is that the Jaguars rank 12th in run defense, while they rank 29th in pass defense. In the previous meeting in Week 10, Chiefs running backs averaged a -0.46 EPA/att on runs and completed just 33 percent of their passes, while passing an average of +0.53 EPA/att on 65 percent of their passes.
I hope the Chiefs can score successfully. The game will depend on how the Jaguars get off to a good start and whether they can keep up, but the Chiefs do look good in the trailer.
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