In what may be the best game on the NFL schedule for Week 5, the Jacksonville Jaguars will take on the challenge of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense.
For three quarters of last Monday night’s game against the Denver Broncos, the Patrick Mahomes hype train slowed down greatly in a tough road environment. But a fourth quarter comeback, highlighted by a crazy left-handed pass as he went 13-for-16 in the final period, sent the Kansas City Chiefs home with an important divisional win and an undefeated record intact.
After a disappointing and dismal 9-6 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 3, the Jacksonville Jaguars got back on track with a 31-12 win over the New York Jets in Week 4. Blake Bortles was the barometer of those two games, with 155 yards against the Titans and 388 against the Jets. Without running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) again, likely for multiple games again, the Jaguars will have to lean on the passing game and a solid (if underrated) group of wide receivers.
Jacksonville has the No.1 pass defense in the league (164.3 yards per game), and while they humbled Tom Brady in Week 2 they have not faced another quarterback nearly on the level Mahomes is playing at right now. The Chiefs limited Case Keenum in Week 4 (245 yards, zero touchdowns, one interception), but they are still 31st in the league against the pass (328.5 yards per game). The Jaguars are also the top scoring defense in the league through four weeks (14 points per game), while the Chiefs are 25th in points allowed (28.8 points per game).
With mobility and athleticism to spare, Mahomes has been pretty effective against pressure and outside the pocket so far this season. The Jaguars are sure to turn things up against him on Sunday, but the game against the Brooncos last Monday night proved keeping the him and the Chiefs’ offense in check all game is a big challenge. As the left-handed improvisation on the game-winning drive against Denver showed, when Mahomes is put in a spot he seemingly can’t get out of he can still pull something out of his hat and move the chains.
Apart from their defensive performance, a look at Bortles’ stat line will say a lot about where the Jaguars are throughout Sunday’s game. Kansas City’s defense is simply very bad and somewhat undermanned. So Bortles has to take advantage, while avoiding inexplicable mistakes that will give Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense extra opportunities.
Sunday’s game stands to be looked back on as an important one within the AFC playoff picture as the season goes on. The Chiefs and Jaguars should both be right there toward the top of the conference, and a head-to-head win could shift home field for a potential playoff rematch at minimum. It will come down to quarterback play, but there’s potential for a fun back-and-forth shootout at Arrowhead Stadium.