The wait is over. The Kansas City Chiefs will begin what fans hope will be a Super Bowl run on Sunday afternoon against the Jacksonville Jaguars. According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Chiefs enter the game as 3.5-point road favorites.
For the Jaguars, there is plenty to keep an eye on. Nick Foles is the new quarterback in Jacksonville and it is giving the team some hope heading into 2019. For the Chiefs, they finished one game away from the Super Bowl last season, and have improved their team. There will be plenty to keep an eye on when the Chiefs take the field for the first time this season.
5. Second Year Slump for the MVP?
Patrick Mahomes is entering his third year as a member of the Chiefs, but his second year as their starting quarterback. Is he in for a modified sophomore slump? No one expects that from a guy who finished with over 5,000 passing yards and 50 touchdown passes.
Mahomes will be tested immediately in game one against a tough Jacksonville defense. After winning the league’s MVP award, Mahomes will have eyes on him all season long. While a slump is not expected, there are crazier things that have happened. Mahomes will have the chance to go out and stop any thoughts of that.
4. Chiefs’ Rookies
The Chiefs’ added two offensive weapons in this past April’s draft. Mecole Hardman and Darwin Thompson have been talked about much throughout training camp and the preseason. Both were expected to make an impact, but that might be put on hold for one of them. The Chiefs signed LeSean McCoy which will impact Thompson’s usage significantly.
Hardman scored two touchdowns in the preseason while Thompson finished with one. They both showed tremendous speed and explosiveness in the four preseason games. The Chiefs’ offense is full of offensive firepower so it will be interesting to see how they decide to use their two newcomers this season.
3. Spagnuolo’s New Defense
The Chiefs allowed 405.5 yards per game last season which was 31st in the NFL. They allowed 26.3 points per game as well. Their defense let them down in the AFC Championship Game when they allowed the New England Patriots to drive down the field for a touchdown on the first possession of overtime.
Kansas City knew that the vibe on defense had to change. They hired Steve Spagnuolo to become the new defensive coordinator. He will implement his 4-3 scheme and use multiple blitz packages to try and get to the quarterback. The Chiefs added Tyrann Mathieu and Frank Clark to the defensive side of the ball.
If the Chiefs want to get where they want to go, their defense will have to get to the elite level that their defense is.
2. Tyreek Hill vs. Jalen Ramsey
The big storyline of this game might be the All-Pro wide receiver vs. the All-Pro cornerback. The Jaguars announced that Jalen Ramsey will shadow Tyreek Hill wherever he goes on the field. This is something to keep an eye on given what Ramsey said about Hill.
A year ago, Ramsey made it clear that Hill was nothing but a return specialist. They went head-to-head and Hill was held to four catches for 61 yards. Hill finished 2018 with 1,479 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has come a long way from his days as a return specialist.
Ramsey is known for his trash talk and that will not change when he takes the field in week one against Hill. This match up will be a big factor in the game. If Ramsey can shut down the Chiefs’ No. 1 receiver, it would go a long way in the Jaguars pulling off an upset. If Hill can get going, the Chiefs offense could go off immediately.
1. Running Game for KC
The Chiefs’ running game has always been solid. Andy Reid is a genius when it comes to running the football and finding ways to get his backs involved. Heading into 2019, they will not have a steady running back. Damien Williams was set to get the bulk of the carries until the team signed McCoy. Darrel Williams and Thompson were expected to get some time as well.
It is hard to predict what will happen. The Chiefs said that they view both Williams and McCoy as their starting backs. Let’s not forget the history that Reid and McCoy have from their time in Philadelphia. If there is one coach that can figure out a backfield of four strong options, it is Reid.
The Chiefs are a passing team. That is fairly obvious with the weapons they have on the outside and under center. Their run game can go a long way in opening up the passing game even more. If the Chiefs can become a true multi-dimensional team, they will be even more dangerous.