NFL Football Betting: Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars

The last two teams to lose to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game will square off on Sunday afternoon when the Jacksonville Jaguars play host to the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City was the favorite to win the Super Bowl for most of the offseason, but the betting odds to win the Super Bowl for the Chiefs are now second on the board to the Patriots. Meanwhile, Jacksonville is considered a fringe contender at best with odds of 50-1 to win Super Bowl LIV.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
LINE: CHIEFS -3.5 +100
TOTAL: 38.5

Jacksonville is one of the sharpest teams on the board in Week 1. While the majority of bets have been on Kansas City, the line has slowly dropped over the last few weeks. Initially, the Chiefs were a 4.5-point favorite in this game according to the NFL betting odds, but that number has since come down to 3.5 points. There’s a chance it could be a flat three by kickoff too.

We’ve seen some movement on the total as well. When the football betting lines were released earlier in the summer for Week 1, the total in this game was tied with the Houston/New Orleans MNF game as the highest over/under on the board. It has now dipped under that highwater mark though, falling from 52.5 to 51.5.

INJURY REPORT

Kansas City will not have WR De’Anthony Thomas for this game as he serves a one-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. LB Breeland Speaks is out for the year with a knee injury and CB Michael Hunter is considered questionable.

The Jaguars placed OT Ben Ijalana on injured reserve last weekend, and LB Jake Ryan is out for the foreseeable future too. TE Josh Oliver is doubtful to play for Jacksonville on Sunday.

WHEN KANSAS CITY IS ON OFFENSE

Patrick Mahomes set the league ablaze in his first year as a starter, setting all sorts of record on his way to being named NFL MVP. Mahomes became the first player in NFL history to throw for over 5,000 yards in his first season as a starter, and he became just the third player ever to toss 50 touchdown passes or more in a season.

Mahomes will have his top two weapons back from last season, and Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are likely to combine for over half of his targets in this game. Hill and Kelce were both named First Team All-Pros last season, and they help make this offense incredibly versatile. Kelce is the most productive tight end in the league, while Hill might be the most elusive player out there. That will lead to a lot of Chiefs games going over the NFL betting total.

Keep an eye on Mecole Hardman in this game. Hardman was Kansas City’s second round pick out of Georgia, and the Chiefs selected him with an eye on having Hardman fill in for Hill if the league decided to suspend the Cheetah for off-field issues. Hardman can be deployed in numerous ways like Hill, so Andy Reid could have some tricks up his sleeve with the rookie.

The Jaguars have one of the most athletic defenses in the NFL, and both the pass rush and secondary are elite. This is one of a handful of teams that has the potential to put the clamps on this offense, so don’t be surprised if it takes Kansas City some time to get going. Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell are great edge rushers that can get to Mahomes, and rookie Josh Allen has impressed in preseason. Jalen Ramsey is one of the best lockdown corners in the league and will shadow Hill for much of the game.

WHEN JACKSONVILLE IS ON OFFENSE

The offense has held the Jaguars back for the last few seasons, but the Blake Bortles era is now mercifully over. Nick Foles slides into the starting quarterback role, and he will aim to make the offense at least average. If Foles can succeed there, Jacksonville has the potential to win double-digit games since the defense is superb.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t have many weapons to work with in the passing game. Marqise Lee and Dede Westbrook are the Jags’ top two wideouts, and neither player elicits much excitement. Second-year player DJ Chark was expected to provide a spark when he was selected in the second-round last year, but he has yet to make any real impact.

That means Leonard Fournette is going to need to be a workhorse back once again. Fournette had a solid rookie season, but injuries plagued him last year. He averaged just 3.3 YPC in eight games.

This will be the first chance to see Kansas City’s revamped defense. The Chiefs doled out nearly $200 million to improve that side of the ball this offseason after losing a shootout to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. It was one of many as Chiefs’ games went over the football betting total in 12 of their 18 games in 2018.

Kansas City paid a king’s ransom for Frank Clark and then signed him to a massive deal, giving the Chiefs the standout pass rusher that they have needed for some time. Tyrann Mathieu and Alex Okafor signed big deals too, so this defense is expected to improve after giving up the second-most yards in the NFL last season.

PREDICTION

Early season games typically favor defenses, and I think Jacksonville’s defense will give Kansas City some real problems. Ramsey is the most talented cornerback in the league, and Mahomes had some trouble moving the ball against this defense last year. He tossed two interceptions and didn’t throw a touchdown in one of his worst performances in 2018.
The Chiefs defense should be much better too, so the ‘Under’ is the play here.

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