Chiefs (0-1) at Jaguars (1-0)
Spread: Jaguars +3
Weather: Potential for hot temperatures
There hasn’t been much line movement for this contest. The spread opened at Jaguars +3 and has since held at that number. The game total has fluctuated from 51.5 to 50.5 points.
Jaguars Offense vs. Chiefs Defense
The Kansas City Chiefs’ defense played well on opening night, only allowing 14 offensive points to the Detroit Lions. The Chiefs now get difference-making DT Chris Jones back, which boosts their run defense and, more importantly, their pass rush.
On that front, Jacksonville Jaguars rookie RT Anton Harrison struggled against Indianapolis Colts edge Kwity Paye on a number of reps in Week 1, so second-year edge George Karlaftis could make an impact in this contest.
We saw last week that Calvin Ridley is the centerpiece of Trevor Lawrence’s passing attack. Ridley had eight receptions on 11 targets for 101 receiving yards and a score against the Colts. Zay Jones was second on the team in targets (seven) while actually leading Jaguars wide receivers in snaps.
Christian Kirk only saw three targets in his slot-heavy role. Last season, the Chiefs allowed the seventh-most points per game to slot receivers. In his two games against Kansas City last year, Kirk had 16 receptions on 24 targets for 157 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Evan Engram saw 10 total targets against the Chiefs last year with just mild production. Keep in mind Kansas City gave up the seventh-most PPR points per game to tight ends lined up in the slot last year.
Travis Etienne was the Jaguars’ lead running back on opening day, finishing with 18 carries and five targets. The Chiefs were a solid run defense last season, but they gave up the fourth-most receiving yards to running backs. Etienne is a dynamic athlete with game-breaking speed.
Chiefs Offense vs. Jaguars Defense
This is a classic correction spot for Patrick Mahomes’ passing attack. Chiefs receivers dropped eight passes on opening night, with one of them resulting in a defensive touchdown for Detroit. Kansas City has one of the weaker wide receiver rooms in the league, but we saw Mahomes win the 2022 MVP with a similar group.
Jacksonville has a beatable secondary that allowed the sixth-most fantasy points per game to slot receivers last season. Last week, Skyy Moore didn’t have a catch on three targets, but he led the Chiefs in slot snaps with 19. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and rookie Rashee Rice each saw 15 snaps from the slot.
If Travis Kelce returns to action, it goes without saying he’s the centerpiece of this passing attack. Kelce is listed as a tight end, but he actually plays more of his snaps in the slot or on the boundary. In his two matchups against the Jaguars last year, Kelce had at least 80 receiving yards with three total touchdowns and 20 receptions.
One area of concern for the Chiefs’ passing attack is the matchup between their new offensive tackles and Jacksonville’s blue-chip edge duo. Travon Walker and Josh Allen are both top-10 edge prospects who have plus speed and athleticism. Mahomes is one of the best pressure managers in the history of the sport, but that edge matchup is the only real advantage the Jaguars’ defense has.
Isiah Pacheco led Chiefs running backs with eight carries and four targets on opening night. Clyde Edwards-Helaire had six carries and one target. Jerick McKinnon had no carries and just two targets. Last season, the Jaguars had a solid run defense, but they allowed the third-most receiving yards to running backs. Pacheco’s passing game volume on opening night was greater than it was last season.
What You’re Betting On
The Chiefs faced the Jaguars twice last season, beating them 27-17 in the regular season and 27-20 in the playoffs.
Any bet on the Chiefs begins as a bet on Mahomes in Andy Reid’s offense. The ceiling and stability of this offense greatly increases if Kelce returns to action. Even if he doesn’t, the Chiefs’ offense is in a traditional bounce-back spot against a beatable Jaguars secondary.
That said, you still have to be concerned with Kansas City’s wide receiver group after its opening night showing. Even if the Chiefs’ offense returns to its standard level of performance, the Jaguars offense has the raw materials to push Kansas City.
Lawrence is an ascending quarterback with a better supporting cast than Mahomes. If you’re betting on the Jaguars, you are primarily betting on Lawrence.
September road games in Florida can be a tough environment for opponents given the heat and humidity. Defensively, Jacksonville’s edge duo is the only true advantage they have. You don’t want to build your bets around Florida weather or the Jaguars’ pass rush, but those are two positives you can add to this stance.
Score Prediction: Chiefs 27, Jaguars 24
Ryan’s Recent Betting Record
ATS 2021: 49-31
ATS 2022: 48-32
ATS 2023: 2-3
Props 2022: 60-40
Props 2023: 2-1
Ryan Reynolds is the associate director of fantasy and betting at The 33rd Team. He has been covering NFL betting markets for five years. Follow him @RyanReynoldsNFL on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.