When: Sunday, Sept 8
Time: Noon, CT
Where: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.
TV Broadcast: CBS – Spero Dedes and Steve Tasker, commentators; DIRECTV: 708.
Radio Broadcast: Over 60 radio stations on the Chiefs Radio Network; Mitch Holthus, Len Dawson, Kendall Gammon, commentators, Chiefs Spanish Radio: La Gran D (1340 AM); Play-by-Play: Enrique Morales - Color Commentator: Oscar Monterroso - Sideline Reporter: Ricardo Soto
SIRIUS: 138 (KC), 112 (Jax.). XM: 232 (Jax.).
If the Kansas City Chiefs needed a reminder that their 2013 goal of winning the AFC West is going to be difficult, then Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning’s NFL record-tying 7 TD passes Thursday night against the World Champion Baltimore Ravens probably did a good job of keeping Andy Reid’s boys focused. In just one game, Manning almost equaled the Chiefs total passing TD output from last season (8).
(Fun bar or football party trivia question to win beer bets: Which Chiefs QB threw six touchdowns in a single game? Len Dawson, 11/1/1964 versus the … Denver Broncos!!!)
The Chiefs know that with the Broncos in the division, they need to beat teams they’re supposed to beat – like this weeks’ opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars – if they want to be a factor in the playoff race this season. Ironically, the Jags look at the Chiefs in the same way.
Both the Chiefs and Jags are eerily similar this season. Both teams had their worst seasons ever in 2012, both teams have new head coaches and coaching staffs in place, both teams used the first two picks of the NFL Draft to take highly-regarded collegiate left tackles but are playing both on the right side to begin the year, and both teams look at this game as their chance to get the 2013 season off to a good start.
Yet, to hear the talk around the league, the Chiefs are almost universally favored to win this game by four to five points and Chiefs fans would honestly be outraged if KC loses this Sunday. Why? Two reasons ….
- Andy Reid is a 14-year veteran head coach with a track record of success in the NFL and a Super Bowl appearance, while the Jags head man, former Seattle Seahawk defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, will make his head coaching debut.
- Alex Smith is an 8-year NFL veteran who is a 180-degree improvement at QB for Kansas City, while neither Jags QB, Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne, keeps opposing defensive coordinators up at night in a cold sweat.
Chiefs fans truly have high hopes that a competent coach like Reid can do enough things right to make an 8-8 record a realistic goal for 2013, while 10-6 and a possible wild card playoff berth is attainable.
Here are three things Chiefs fans should be watching on Sunday if the Chiefs are going to start 2013 with a 1-0 record:
- Jamaal gets 150 yards of offense. With apologies to the Jags former Pro Bowl running back, Maurice Jones-Drew, KC’s Jamaal Charles will be the best and most explosive player on the field. Now that the preseason is over and the games count, the Chiefs will take the protective bubble wrap off of #25 and let him loose. If Charles can get about 100 yards rushing with another 50 receiving, the Chiefs offense will be balanced enough to control the clock and wear down the Jags still-developing defense.
- Alex Smith plays with a chip on his shoulder. There is no argument that Smith never has lived up to the hype of being the #1 overall pick back in the 2005 draft, but the way he was benched by the 49ers at mid-season last year was still painful. It’s not as if he played poorly for them as he was 19-5-1 in his last 25 starts with 30 TDs, 10 interceptions and a quarterback rating of over 95 and led the 49ers to the brink of the Super Bowl in 2011. It will be virtually impossible for Smith to mess up so badly that fans will wax nostalgically for Matt Cassel or Brady Quinn, so he should play a little more aggressively this week and show the 49ers … er, I mean, Jacksonville … that he is an excellent quarterback that still has upside. Smith should be able to get 270 yards passing with at least two touchdowns this week – at least.
- Unleash the hounds on defense. Fans didn’t see a ton of pressure on the opposing quarterbacks during preseason, but that is easily explained by the Chiefs running a mostly vanilla scheme and every preseason opponent being a Super Bowl participant in the last four seasons. The Jaguars and whoever is behind center (Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne) are about as far away from the Super Bowl as you can get. Whereas preseason opponent QBs like Drew Brees or Ben Roethlisberger can make a defense pay for mistakes in coverage, the Jags QBs might not. Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton needs to pull every trick out of his bag to force turnovers from a bad offensive opponent and this is a good time for the Chiefs defense to reverse the deplorable giveaway/takeaway ratio that has been in the bottom half of the league for six of the last ten seasons. Last season, the Chiefs were 31st in the league.
Prediction: The Chiefs have been in a hazy funk for most of the last 15 years with only three playoff appearances since 1997 and the team being completely irrelevant since Dick Vermeil, Trent Green, and Priest Holmes were on the sidelines. The hope is that Andy Reid will bring the experience and competence of his 14 seasons in Philadelphia to the Midwest and take the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl since Richard Nixon was the POTUS. The bet here is that the Chiefs become relevant again in 2013and playoff trips will start happening like they did under Marty Schottenheimer in the ‘90s. Hand me the Red Kool-Aid … the first step takes place Sunday.
Chiefs – 20, Jaguars – 16.
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