Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs
Time: NOON (CT), CBS
Spread: KC -9
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The Jacksonville Jaguars have had a rough 2016 season thus far at 2-5. The team is coming off consecutive losses to the Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans, and it finds itself 9-point underdogs as it travels to Kansas City to face the Chiefs at NOON (Central) on CBS. The over/under for the game is set at 44 points.
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Last week, Blake Bortles went to work, launching 54 passes and completing 33 while reaching the end zone three times. He was sacked twice (for a total loss of 15 yards), but the third-year QB had a strong game. The UCF product has been fairly solid, but as he goes, so go the Jaguars. He has thrown eight interceptions in their five losses, while having thrown just one in the two victories combined. He is averaging 60 percent completions this year and nearing in on 2,000 yards, but the Jaguars have struggled despite his progression.
That is largely because Jacksonville is the third-worst rushing team in the NFL at just 72.6 yards per game. It results in just 19.9 points per contest (No. 23) and No. 1 back T.J. Weldon has struggled. He has rushed for just 220 yards this season wit ha 3.5 yard per carry average, and Bortles is the leading rusher in yards-per-carry at 5.4.
But Bortles has attempted just 27 rushes, and his one TD ties Yeldon and Chris Ivory for the team lead. That is correct: Jacksonville has scored just three rushing TDs through its first seven games, and there does not seem to be much in place to stop the slide.
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The receivers, however, have done work. Allen Hurns, Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee all have over 350 receiving yards on the season and the Jaguars trio averages 11 yards or better pre reception. Hurns is good of 14.3 per catch and has nine plays over 20-yards on the season, as well as 20 first downs. Robinson leads the team in TDs (three) and first downs (23), and Bortles has got the job done.
It is just that such is about the only thing to have gone right for Jacksonville, and Kansas City’s defense is smart and strong enough to react to that and stifle the Jags.
The Chiefs rank No. 8 in the NFL in points allowed per game (19.6) and are 3-0 at home. The team is mediocre at best offensively, but against the Jaguars it might look far better.
KC has won three straight games over Oakland, New Orleans and Indianapolis, and the Chiefs are in third place in the AFC West. Alex Smith has been very good this season with 1,638 yards and a 66.1 percent completion rate. He has eight TD passes and two INTs, with an interception ratio of just 0.9 percent. The one problem has been that he has suffered 15 sacks for a total loss of 81 yards, but Smith is not the speediest, also attested to b y his 1.6 yard per carry average on his 19 rush attempts.
Spencer Ware has been the workhorse in the backfield for the Chiefs. The third-year back out of LSU had a huge game against the Raiders last week with 131 yards and a TD on 24 carries. It was his first 100-plus yard rushing game of the season, but he is listed as out this week. The Chiefs may be able to get by without his dominance, given the fact that Charandrick West has had his successes this season.
Though the third-year back from Abilene Christian has attempted just 33 carries on the season, he is averaging 4.2 yards per and has four rushes for first down. He can catch fairly well, too, so perhaps this week the Chiefs vary their approach some with some play action and try to get West a little more involved. Last week he did not play, so presumably he is fresh and able to usurp Ware’s usual role.
No matter what the case, Smith’s arm and KC’s defense should be enough to prevail over the struggling Jaguars.