The Jacksonville Jaguars are scheduled to face the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday afternoon to kick off the Divisional Round of the 2023 NFL Playoffs.
It will be a rematch of their Week 10 meeting when KC prevailed, 27-17, at Arrowhead Stadium as a 9.5-point choice.
NFL Playoff Odds: Jaguars vs. Chiefs Point Spread, Total, Moneyline
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Where the Jaguars and Chiefs Stand Heading Into Divisional Round
While KC was enjoying its bye last week thanks to being the conference’s top seed, fourth-seeded Jacksonville was overcoming a 27-0 deficit on Saturday in the first round against the visiting LA Chargers in earning a 31-30 triumph. It was the third-biggest comeback in playoff history.
Coincidentally, the second-biggest comeback came at the expense of the Chiefs in 2013 (head coach Andy Reid’s first year with Kansas City), when host Indianapolis rallied from a 38-10 hole to win, 45-44.
Making that Jaguars comeback even more astonishing is that they became the first team in 10 years to win despite a minus-5 turnover differential. Until then, only one team this season was victorious with a negative-3 margin or worse: Kansas City (minus-3) in that Week 10 win over Jax. Also, the Chargers’ average starting field position was at their 41. Dating to last season, other teams that had a launch-point norm of 40 or better went 34-3.
This season, Kansas City is 14-3 but only 6-10-1 against the spread (ATS), its worst mark since 2012. Jacksonville, which is on a six-game winning streak, is 10-8 straight up (SU)/9-9 ATS.
As for postseason experience, the Chiefs hold a big edge.
Jacksonville is in the playoffs for the first time since the 2017 season when it reached the conference title game. That was the year current Jags head coach Doug Pederson led Philadelphia to the Super Bowl title.
Kansas City, meanwhile, has been a first or second seed the past five seasons and has an 8-3 playoff record in that span. Included was a Super Bowl victory over San Francisco three years ago.
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, the favorite to win league MVP honors this year, has been KC’s catalyst with a league-high 5,250 passing yards. No one else was within 500 of that. He threw for 331 yards and four TDs (plus an INT) in that win versus Jacksonville, a game in which the Jaguars gave up 486 yards of total offense, which is the most they yielded in a game this season.
KC’s defense held up its end, too, sacking Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence on five occasions, the most times he was dragged down in a game this year. What makes that more impressive is that Jacksonville is tied for the league-high with six games without allowing a sack this season.
As for Lawrence, until last week’s game when he threw four INTs — all in the first half — he was one of the league’s hottest passers down the stretch. But he came through with four TD throws in the second half in the big comeback.
Contributing in a big way was RB Travis Etienne with 109 rushing yards.
As for the weather, the temperature at kickoff is forecast to be 36 degrees. There’s a 10 to 20% chance of precipitation as the game progresses.
Jaguars vs. Chiefs Analysis & Prediction
A key to this game will be whether Lawrence can get enough time to throw in the face of KC’s pass rush, which ranked second in the NFL with 55 sacks this year.
That’s especially important because of his tendency to fumble. He’s got 12 this season and has lost a league-high nine, which is three more than the next guy. And against the team that had the most sacks this year (NFC top seed Philadelphia), Lawrence lost four fumbles, the most by anyone in a game in the past three decades.
As for Mahomes, he should thrive going against the Jags’ 24th-rated defense. In nine games this season against teams ranked 20th or worse on that chart, he has 24 TD throws and one interception. TE Travis Kelce with 110 catches and 12 TDs (second-most in the NFL) should be able to add to those totals.
In summary, if the Jags lost to the Chiefs by 10 points earlier this season despite a plus-3 turnover advantage, what chance do they have here?
Forecast: Chiefs 34, Jaguars 14