The Jacksonville Jaguars (10-8) look to snap a long losing streak against the Kansas City Chiefs (14-3) when the teams meet in an NFL divisional-round playoff game Saturday in Missouri.
The Chiefs have won six straight over the Jaguars since 2010 and lead the all-time series 8-6.
The game will feature Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, who led the NFL in passing yards during the regular season (5,250) and Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence, who threw for 4,113 yards and just eight interceptions in the regular season, the second-most low among QBs with at least 500 pass attempts.
The last time the Jaguars beat the Chiefs was in 2009, when Lawrence was 10 years old.
Here’s everything you need from a betting perspective on the Jaguars-Chiefs game, from point spread, money line, Over/Under total and expert pick (with odds via from FOX Bet).
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Jacksonville Jaguars (10-8) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-14), 4:30 pm ET Saturday, NBC
Distribution of points: Chiefs -9.5 (Chiefs are favored to win by more than 9.5 points, otherwise Jaguars cover)
Moneyline: Chiefs -500 favorites to win (bet $10 to win $12 total); Jaguars +300 underdogs to win (bet $10 to win $40 total)
Total Over/Under Score: 52.5 points scored by the two teams together
Kansas City Chiefs
Pick through the FOX Sports NFL Analyst Geoff Schwartz:
The Chiefs have been excellent at moving the ball and scoring points in their first playoff games each postseason under coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes. This is a home game for them, and they face an opponent that won’t be good enough to slow down their offense.
The Chiefs scored 31 points against the Colts in the 2018 playoffs, then scored 51 against the Texans in 2019. In 2020, KC only scored 22 points against the Browns, but remember Mahomes was hurt in third quarter and the Chiefs. did not score after leaving the game. Finally, the Chiefs scored 42 against the Steelers last season in the wild-card round.
This season, the Chiefs rank first in offensive DVOA, first in offensive EPA, first in scoring and second in third-down conversion rate. Jacksonville’s defense finished the regular season ranked 26th in defensive DVOA and 29th in third down. Also, the Jaguars defense was 24th in red zone touchdown percentage. These teams met in Week 10, and in that matchup, Kansas City scored just 27 points in a B-less performance. However, I expect the Chiefs to put up a ton of points in this game.
Jaguars coach Doug Pederson said this week that he understands the need to put up points in this game. This means he will have an aggressive game plan. That also means the Chiefs will have to match that aggression by scoring points of their own.
COLLECT: Over 52.5 points scored by both teams combined at FOX Bet
Insights from the FOX Sports Gambling Expert Warren Sharp:
The Kansas City Chiefs have the best offense in the NFL, and it’s not even a close second.
They gain a first down on 31% of their first downs. To give some perspective, the third most efficient offense in this metric is closer to the league average than the Chiefs.
The Chiefs also gain +0.10 EPA/game on first downs, which is also first in the NFL. The NFL average is -0.02. No other team is above +0.04.
It’s also their most efficient offense since 2018.
And to add more context, the Chiefs offense has ranked well despite facing the seventh-toughest schedule of opposing defenses in the NFL. The Chiefs have played 10 above-average defenses on the season.
They have only played four games against teams with ten low defences. They are 4-0 in those games, winning by an average final score of 33-20.
They face the Jaguars’ No. 27 defense.
While the Chiefs’ offense earned its No. 1 the hard way, playing the seventh-toughest schedule, the Jaguars’ 27th-ranked defense was fortunate to play the third-easiest schedule against opposing offenses .
They’ve only played five above-average offenses this year other than Kansas City:
- Lost 29-21 against #3 Philadelphia
- Lost 23-17 against #12 NY Giants
- Lost 40-14 against No. 6 Detroit
- Lost 27-17 against No. 1 Kansas City
- Won 40-34 against #14 Dallas
- Won 28-27 against No. 10 Baltimore
They trailed the Ravens in the fourth quarter 19-10 and then 27-20 before scoring with 14 seconds left and finding a two-point conversion to win the game.
They trailed the Cowboys 27-10 in the third quarter and 34-31 before scoring on the final play of regulation to tie the game at 34-34, then returned an interception for a touchdown in overtime to win 40 -34.
The bottom line: They allowed 31 points per game (PPG) in those games, trailed at halftime in five of six by an average of nine PPG, and trailed entering the fourth quarter by five of six by one average of 7 PPG.
Now that we know what the Chiefs have done against bottom 10 defenses (scored 33 PPG, went 4-0, won by 13 PPG) and what the Jaguars have done against top 15 offenses (allowed 31 PPG, should gone). 0-6, but to erase multi-score deficits, including scores with less than 15 seconds to play to win or force overtime), let’s look at the matchup in more detail.
Trevor Lawrence has improved dramatically over the course of the season working with Doug Pederson. This year, Lawrence got off to a slow start under Pederson. Through the first half of the year, he ranked 23rd in YPA, 14th in EPA/att and 13th in hit rate.
But since Week 9, Lawrence is in the top 10 in all three metrics, including second in EPA/att, just ahead of Patrick Mahomes.
But one of the areas where Lawrence has played so well has been in man coverage. In fact, Lawrence is No. 1 in man coverage in the NFL in the second half of the season.
But while the Chiefs play their share of man, they also play two shell highs at the fourth-highest rate in the NFL and the highest rate of any team left in the playoffs. And Lawrence ranks No. 19 against two high-ball defenses. Against high no-twos, he ranks third best in EPA/att, but drops to 19th in the second half of the season.
At their first meeting, their divisions:
- vs. two high: -0.24 EPA/att, 29% success, 4.7 YPA, 65% completions on 20 drop-backs
- vs. not two-high: +0.35 EPA/att, 50% hit, 7.8 YPA, 78% completions on 28 dropbacks
The Chiefs would be wise to reduce their man coverage rate and lean more towards the two-high defense in this game.
Lawrence has big splits when pressured, and the story was similar to that of the Chiefs in Week 10:
- Pressure: -0.52 EPA/att, 39% success, 6.8 YPA, 67% completions, 5 sacks on 13 dropbacks
- Cleanup: +0.33 EPA/att, 42% success, 6.4 YPA, 74% completions, 0 sacks on 35 turnovers
Since that Week 10 game, the Chiefs defense ranks fourth in pressure rate.
And Lawrence still has trouble dealing with the pressure. Last week’s wildcard game:
- Pressure: -1.19 EPA/att, 17% success, 1.7 YPA, 22% completions, 2 sacks and 2 INTs
- Cleanup: +0.27 EPA/att, 55% success, 7.2 YPA, 68% completions, 0 sacks, 4 TDs, 2 INTs
On the other side of the ball, we mentioned the Chiefs offensive efficiency in general. But where they should really try to focus in this game is attacking the Jaguars through the air and substantially increasing their play rate.
The Jaguars are extremely weak against play action, ranking 26th in EPA/att and 31st in hitting percentage against play action this year, and it’s only gotten worse.
Since Week 10, the Jaguars rank last in EPA/att and hit percentage against play action on first downs through the first three quarters of the game:
- vs. play action: +0.44 EPA/att (32nd), 64% hit (32nd), 9.9 YPA (28th)
- No game action: -0.10 EPA/att (eighth), 43% hit (13th), 5.4 YPA (fourth)
The Chiefs don’t use high rates of play action (20th in usage rate) because Mahomes doesn’t need it and ranks 6th in EPA/att without it.
But they should absolutely reduce their use of RB runs and increase their use of play action in this game. In his previous Week 10 meeting, Mahomes went:
- In game action: +0.72 EPA/att, 71% hit, 11.7 YPA, 77% completions, 2:0 TD:INT on 14 attempts
- No game action: +0.42 EPA/att, 57% hit, 8.1 YPA, 73% completions, 2:1 TD:INT on 26 attempts
The reason the Chiefs should slow down the run is that the Jaguars’ run defense ranks 12th, while their pass defense ranks 29th. And in their meeting before Week 10, the Chiefs running backs averaged -0.46 EPA/att and only 33% success, while passes averaged +0.53 EPA/att and 65% success.
I hope the Chiefs have scoring success. This game will come down to how the Jags start and if they can keep pace, but the Chiefs look good in a teaser.
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