Strengths collide as Kansas City Chiefs meet Jacksonville Jaguars

Jay Asser 21:45 06/10/2018
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Something will have to give when the Kansas City Chiefs’ hyper-efficient offence tangles with the Jacksonville Jaguars’ tenacious defence on Sunday.

The match-up pits two units that have been utterly dominant this season, with the Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs attack getting their toughest test yet against a team that hasn’t allowed more than 20 points in a game.

Kansas City lead the league in scoring with an average of 36.3 points, while ranking eighth in total yards with 410.3 and fifth in first downs with 24. Jacksonville, on the other hand, are the top of the league in several defensive categories: scoring with 14.0, total yards with 259.3, pass yards with 164.3 and first downs with 14.5.

The Chiefs have weapons all over the field, but the Jaguars have the means to neutralise Mahomes’ favourite targets. Tight end Travis Kelce is expected to go head-to-head with safety Tashaun Gipson, who helped limit Rob Gronkowski to two catches for 15 yards in Week 2, while wide receiver Tyreek Hill should have his hands full getting open against All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

True to form, Ramsey has trash-talked Hill in the lead-up, saying the speedster is more of a return specialist than a wideout, based on his Pro Bowl appearance as the former. Hill responded by saying he hopes Ramsey plays press coverage against him.

Ramsey’s size and ability to press at the line could be utilised on Sunday, but the Jaguars have actually allowed the fourth-lowest passer rating in the league (86.5) when playing off-ball coverage, according to Pro Football Focus.

Whatever happens between the teams, the pecking order at the top of the AFC will become a little clearer.

Here are more talking points from Week 5.

RAM-ROD

Speaking of slowing down potent offences, the Seattle Seahawks have their work cut out against a Los Angeles Rams attack that has been as good, if not better, than the Chiefs this season.

Seattle’s task was always going to be monumental, but the level of difficulty will be even more severe now that star safety Earl Thomas is recovering from a broken leg suffered last week.

With Thomas no longer around to patrol the field, Jared Goff could once again have a field day as he leads all quarterback with 23 completions of at least 20 yards.

The one thing the Seahawks have working in their favour is that they’re at home, where the crowd noise could help throw off the Rams’ rhythm. However, the comforts of home did nothing for them in the Week 15 encounter last year, when they were steamrolled 42-7.

REBOUND BOWL

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Before the start of the season, this week’s match-up between the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles looked like a potential preview for the NFC Championship Game.

Sunday’s meeting still features two of the most talented rosters in the league, but both sides have had their struggles through the first four weeks and are coming off losses.

For Minnesota, a defence that was expected to be stingy has instead leaked points, while the Eagles have their own litany of issues, including a stalled-out offence.

It’s a little too early to panic over either team, but both need to show something on Sunday if this billing has chance for a rematch in January.

PUNTERS NEED NOT APPLY

Defence should be at a premium when the Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons collide on Sunday.

Neither Pittsburgh nor Atlanta have been able to coax any kind of consistency from their defences this season, with the Steelers looking incapable without linebacker Ryan Shazier, and the Falcons decimated by injuries to their own key players.

As a result, the units led by Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan have been under pressure to put points on the board, but the offences haven’t managed to negate their team’s current one-dimensional nature.

It would be a surprise if their meeting is anything less than a shootout, with offensive stars on both sides expected to feast in a game that should feature few punts.

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