Chiefs-Jaguars News & Predictions: Kelce returns; Ridley presents big problem

In a rematch of the 2022 AFC Divisional Round matchup, the Jacksonville Jaguars will look to show the Kansas City Chiefs they are a legit rival for the AFC crown.  As the Chiefs get two of their big stars back in Travis Kelce and Chris Jones, Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley presents a new dynamic for KC’s defense.

Coming off a Week 1 loss at the hands of the Detroit Lions, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will look to bounce back against a up-and-coming Jags team out for blood.  The return of Kelce should spark the offense as Mahomes had problems connecting with wide receiver Kadarious Toney on some key failed connections.

While the return of Kelce won’t fix dropped passes and key mistakes on offense, the Mahomes-Kelce connection will challenge a Jaguars defense looking to make a statement that they can slow down Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense.

Chiefs vs Jaguars: Week 2 NFL matchup will com down to defense

It will start upfront with outside linebackers Travon Walker and Josh Allen who must get pressure on Mahomes to help a secondary that struggled against the Indianapolis Colts find their footing and limit Kelce and the rest of the Chiefs playmakers on offense.

Defensively for the Chiefs, the return of Chris Jones should help against an explosive Jaguars’ offense as far as rushing defense goes, but how will the Chiefs’ secondary limit Ridley, who presents a new dynamic for the Jaguars offense as he gives Trevor Lawrence the ultimate weapon.

As displayed in Jacksonville’s win over the Colts, Ridley is still the game breaker he was before leaving the game for personal reasons and then serving an 11-game suspension handed down by the NFL.  Ridley torched the Colts’ secondary with eight receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown.

Not too shabby for a player who hasn’t seen NFL action for almost two complete seasons.  How will Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo defend the explosive connection of Lawrence and Ridley?

How will the Chiefs limit the dynamic playmaking ability of Calvin Ridley?

Greg Cosell draws up what he believes will be key for the Chiefs during this week’s “X’s and Os with Greg Cosell.”  In summary, he says the Chiefs may have to change their coverage scheme to confuse Lawrence, which may be the best way to defend a player like Ridley from exploding.

“Keep in mind that last year, the Chiefs played a lot of man coverage against the Jaguars,” Cosell said.  “The question is, will they do that again, or will they feel that, hey, maybe Ridley changes that equation?  We don’t know that – that’s why we love watching these games – but they conceptually played similarly in both games.  They played a high percentage of man coverage, especially on third downs.  They play a lot of Cover-1 robber, which will be very interesting to see.  And with a lot of these teams that plays 2-Man, the line between 2-Man and Cover 1 robber can be blurred, and sometimes, that can fool a quarterback.”

If there is any defensive coordinator who can come up with a scheme to limit Ridley, it is Spagnuolo, but the big thing to watch in Sunday’s matchup is how?  Will he go man and have safety help over the top or will the plan be to rattle Lawrence, which the return of Chris Jones will help.

Prediction: Chiefs find a way to win this one in an early defensive battle.  Jaguars will get a 100-yard rushing performance and TD from Travis Etienne Jr on the ground., but the passing game will struggle early against Spagnuolo’s defense.  The Jaguars will battle and eventually take the lead late in the game on a Christian Kirk touchdown, but that Mahomes and Kelce connection will strike once again as a late touchdown seals the deal for KC.

Chiefs 17, Jaguars 14.