Saturday’s Divisional live blog: Jaguars looking to upset Chiefs

Saturday’s Divisional live blog: Jaguars looking to upset Chiefs

Saturday’s Divisional live blog: Jaguars looking to upset Chiefs

NFL Division – The suitors are out and the contenders are in. Welcome to the Divisional Playoffs!

After a Wild Card round full of twists and turns and surprisingly close games, all eight remaining teams have proven that they belong at this stage. We have eight of the top nine teams in weighted offensive DVOA still playing (sorry, Detroit), and none with an overall negative weighted DVOA. That’s not to say there aren’t quality gradients here, but every team still standing has at least a 1.9% chance of winning the Super Bowl, according to our playoff odds. Would it be surprising if the Jaguars or Giants ended up holding the Lombardi Trophy at the end of it all? Right. But at this point, nothing would truly be shocking.

To get there, though, both Jacksonville and New York need to go through the top seeds today. Both the Chiefs and Eagles are rested and ready to go. to have playoffs started; the top seeds in both conferences looking to prove they deserved it. Can any of the underdogs overcome the triple threat of home advantage, a bye week, and generally being less successful than their higher-ranked opponents? The favorites are favorites for a reason, but it was only last year that the top two fell in the divisional round. Will Jalen Hurts’ broken wing and Kansas City’s penchant for playing with their food come back to haunt them? We’ll find out soon.

And we’ll be covering today’s matches live in a special Saturday edition of the Football Outsiders live blog. Because we’re live, you can join the discussion too! Join the conversation — in the comments section of this article, on Twitter, by tagging @FBOutsiders or @BryKnoor on our new Discord server, where some of your favorite writers will be participating and reacting live.

That must be good.

Kickoff Game Preview: Jaguars at Chiefs

Andy Reid has never lost to any of his former assistants in the postseason. He defeated Brad Childress in 2008 and then eliminated Sean McDermott in 2020 and 2021. Now it’s Doug Pederson’s turn to try to stop Reid, capitalizing on the momentum of his incredible comeback victory over the Chargers for a comeback at Arrowhead Stadium.

It’s a tall order, for sure. The Chiefs are the cream of the NFL today; the most regular of contenders. They’ve reached the AFC Championship each of the past four seasons, winning one Super Bowl and competing in another along the way. Meanwhile, this is just the Jaguars’ second playoff berth since 2008; there may be a small gap in experience here. And, of course, the Chiefs beat the Jaguars earlier this season; Patrick Mahomes threw four touchdown passes en route to a 27-17 victory. But, as Rivers McCown points out in our stat preview, the Jaguars managed a 20-0 mini-recovery in that one; an unsuccessful precursor to the Chargers’ comeback?

With the threat of snow falling in Arrowhead and the always raucous Chiefs fans ready to surprise trevor lawrence, the underdogs have a big task ahead of them as 9.5-point underdogs. But hey, we all learned not to count last week, right?

Late Game Preview: Giants v Eagles

How healthy is Jalen Hurts, really?

Hurts suffered a sprained shoulder in Week 15 against Chicago. He returned late in the season, but turned in his worst passing DVOA of the year, -35.5%, against a Giants team that was resting most of its starters. Oh, the Eagles still won, mind you, but the Eagles team that won first place; the best Eagles team at DVOA in the first 15 weeks of the season? That requires Hurts to play like he did in the first three months of the season. The extra week off should have helped, but we saw almost none of the RPO and projected run game we were used to seeing in Philadelphia during Hurts last game, as the Eagles played so well with him. We’re going to find out very quickly what form Hurts is in this week.

What if the eagles are in top form? Well, as Vince Verhei puts it in our game preview, “Overcoming seasons often end brutally in the postseason.” The Eagles were the best team throughout the season in almost every way those things can be measured; that’s why Philadelphia is a favorite with 7.5 points. That said, the Giants have a history of big surprises in the postseason, don’t they? Brian Daboll and company are playing for the money in the house, and a strong day behind Saquon Barkley could have them shock the world once again.

3:49 pm: Snow game? Snow game!

It’s still not sticking, but we’ve got some pretty significant (and wet) snow falling in Arrowhead.

I don’t think it’s full-on, flashing SNOW GAME warning lights and siren alert at its point in time; it’s a little too hot to beat. But weather games are always fun to watch.

And who knows? Perhaps a classic snow game will help the NFL reconsider rumored plans to move all conference championship games to neutral venues…

4:45 pm: Travis Kelce could be trouble

The Jaguars have a 37.7% DVOA pass defense against tight ends. This could end up being a problem against Travis Kelce, who is, in fact, very good at the whole ‘football’ thing.

Kelce had four catches for 35 yards and a touchdown on the Chiefs’ opening drive, and the Jaguars don’t seem to have an immediate response for the big man.

Also on this drive: a speed option, a sidearm pass and a jump pass from Mahomes. It’s kind of unfair that Mahomes can make anything work at any time; he is on a totally different level than anyone else. Add the Jaguars going from three onwards from them first trip, and the Jags find themselves in a tight spot. It’s only 7-0, but some first touchdowns are more demoralizing than others…

4:53 pm: Not so fast, Kansas City!

The only area where Jacksonville can have an advantage is on special teams, and Jamal Agnew sweeps Jacksonville off the turf with a 63-yard return on the ensuing kickoff. Jacksonville needs to squeeze every drop out of those little windows where they have an advantage if they want to keep up with Kansas City’s offense.

With the ball in Kansas City territory, the Jags then begin to move. It’s a bit conservative; a few dinks and dunks and runs, but it turns out to be effective against a Chiefs defense that hasn’t always been particularly tough this year. On the eventual touchdown, Doug Pederson plans things so that Christian Kirk is covered by George Karlaftis, and that’s not a match Karlaftis will win.

We’re tied up at seven. Game on.

17:04: Patrick Mahomes injured

This entire game has just changed. Mahomes has been wrapped in a bag and is in clear and obvious pain. He’s refusing to leave the game, but he’s limping, bouncing and generally not walking right – he barely managed to get the ball out on an extended run play. The quarter ended and he came to the sideline to see things, but that could be a huge, immense moment in this.

Chad Henne is the backup if needed.

Mahomes came back early in the second quarter and moved around a little bit better, but offensive momentum immediately stalled and Kansas City settled for a field goal. 10-7 Chiefs, but that’s not the focus right now.

5:18 pm: Patrick Mahomes to the locker room

After a long discussion with the coaching staff, Mahomes was taken to the locker room for further tests. He was begging not to be taken out, but the medical team won the argument.

Mahomes, for what it’s worth, hurried to the locker room. We’ll see what happens, but it’s Chad Henne’s show right now. This has a huge impact on not just this game, but playoff imagery as a whole.

The last time Henne entered a playoff game was in the 2020 Divisional Round. He went 6-of-8 for 66 yards and had a big fight to keep things going. There are worse situations to be in, but that’s a silver lining that Chiefs fans might not want to hear right now.

17:33: Henne leads a unit

Mahomes is back on the sidelines, in his jacket, looking less frustrated. But he’s still very much on the sideline, as Henne started the ball at Kansas City’s own two-yard line. This is the time for Jacksonville to… to…

…to give up a 98-yard touchdown, apparently.

To be fair, a lot of that came on this 40-yard dash by Isiah “Pinball” Pacheco.

But Henne was a solid 5-of-7, albeit for just 23 yards. He hooked up with Travis Kelce for his second touchdown of the day; Turns out, Mahomes’ injury didn’t make the Jaguars good at covering closed ends all of a sudden. And so Kansas City stretches things out to a 17-7 lead. We’ll see what Jacksonville has in response.

5:49 pm: Jaguars respond before halftime

The Jaguars respond with their longest drive of the game – one that could have been even longer had Christian Kirk not played a perfectly thrown deep pass.

Kirk makes up for it a bit with a third-down conversion a few plays later, bringing the ball into Kansas City territory. The drive stalls a few moments later, and the Jaguars opt to kick a field goal on Chiefs 23 4th and 2. In most situations, this would be the wrong decision, but with less than 30 seconds left in halftime. ? Our model supports this – it’s a +0.4 decision before adjusting for Mahomes’ injury and slightly better afterwards. With so little time left, you don’t get the same benefit of field position if you try and fail, so earning the points makes a lot more sense. And so it is 17-10.

And that’s the score at halftime as the Chiefs opt to kneel the clock. We’ll see who comes back as quarterback in the third quarter…

6:13pm: Mahomes back

Yes, I know there are two teams playing in this game, but it’s all one sided.

Mahomes reportedly suffered a sprained ankle, but he came off to start the second half. He’s capable of making some shots and is moving well into straight takedowns, but you can tell he’s not comfortable. He’s not moving around as much as he did in the first half and missed a few shots that ended up missing incompletes. It could just be a matter of adjusting to the injury, but we’ll be keeping an eye on Mahomes’ moves for the rest of the way.

The Jaguars stop and now have the ball down for a touchdown.

6:18 pm: Jags Punt It Back

The Jaguars are finding some space on the ground. They rushed 13 times for 6.8 yards per carry, while Etienne began to chew up some ground on the Jaguars’ subsequent drive. Unfortunately, the offensive line looks less able to stop Kansas City’s fast passing as the pressure has exploded on several consecutive plays. This forced Jacksonville to punt, still trailing 17-10, midway through the third quarter.

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