NFL Divisional Round picks: Best bets for Jaguars vs Chiefs
Alex Buck makes his Saturday football picks and predictions for the Jacksonville Jaguars vs Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL Divisional Round 2022-23.
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AFC Divisional Round Schedule - Jaguars @ Chiefs
NFL Divisional Round 2022 Schedule
Jacksonville Jaguars (10-8, 4-5 Away) vs Kansas City Chiefs (14-3, 7-1 Home)
Date: Saturday 21st January 2023
Time: 4:30 pm EST
Venue: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium
TV Channel: NBC
Live Stream: FuboTV/NFL+
Live Radio: Sirius XM
Jaguars vs Chiefs Preview
The Jacksonville Jaguars pulled off a heroic comeback on Saturday night to overcome their first-half shortcomings against the LA Chargers and advance to the Divisional round of the playoffs. After a woeful first half with four interceptions, Trevor Lawrence rebounded with a nearly flawless second half and four passing touchdowns, ultimately leading his team to victory.
Head coach Doug Pederson showed once again why he is a tremendously well-respected coach, keeping his quarterback on an even keel and adjusting to the looks the Chargers were offering in the second half. Pederson quite simply outcoached Brandon Staley and the Chargers, and Trevor Lawrence outplayed Justin Herbert in the second half to complete one of the most impressive turnarounds we've seen in recent years.
The Kansas City Chiefs will now host the Jaguars coming off their bye week as the number one seed in the AFC. The Chiefs are currently an 8.5-point favorite, but the Jaguars will be hoping to start this one in a far better position than they found themselves in the wildcard round.
Jaguars vs Chiefs Odds, Spread, Moneyline, Over/Under – NFL Divisional Round Odds
One of the key storylines of this game is the faceoff between Doug Pederson and one of his most well-respected mentors, Andy Reid. Pederson was a player under Reid with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999, before being hired as an offensive assistant 10 years later.
Pederson was promoted to quarterback’s coach under Reid in Philly, before following him to Kansas City where he took the role of offensive coordinator. Pederson stayed there until he returned to Philadelphia for the third time, as the head coach, where he led them to a Super Bowl victory.
Andy Reid has one of the most impressive coaching trees in recent history, including Pederson, John Harbaugh, Todd Bowles, Sean McDermott, and Ron Rivera. He has faced his former assistants and coordinators three times in the playoffs, currently holding a 3-0 record against those coaches. As for Pederson, the two have met twice so far. In Week 2 of the 2017 season Pederson was defeated by Reid while coaching the Eagles, and earlier this season in 2022, Reid emerged the victor for the second time in the Week 10 matchup between the Chiefs and the Jaguars.
However, since that game, the Jaguars have gone 7-1, and Doug Pederson has a shot at becoming the first coach to come from underneath Andy Reid to beat him. The two have tremendous respect and admiration for each other, with Reid suggesting earlier this week that Pederson should be a candidate for the coach of the year award for his ability to turn around the Jacksonville Jaguars program in such a short amount of time.
The two head coaches are familiar with each other, but the quarterbacks have contrasting experiences. Patrick Mahomes, at just 27 years old, has already achieved a great deal of success in the NFL, including being named the NFL MVP, winning a Super Bowl and earning MVP honors in that game, and being named First Team All-Pro twice. He has been at the pinnacle of pro football for several years.
Mahomes broke the 5,000-yard passing marker this season and was the standalone player in doing so, as well as being the only quarterback to pass 40 passing touchdowns in the regular season.
Mahomes' impressive numbers are even more remarkable considering the loss of one of his key weapons, Tyreek Hill, during the off-season. Despite Hill's departure, Mahomes set a new career high in passing yards and is likely to win his second MVP award. This season, he demonstrated his ability to work with a variety of talented players and make them successful, throwing touchdowns to 11 different pass catchers, including new additions Juju Smith Schuster and Marques Valdez-Scantling, who both had over 80 targets in their first season with the Chiefs.
Although, the Chiefs' offensive prowess doesn't stop there. Jerick McKinnon had 71 targets out of the backfield this year, and late addition Kadarius Toney could prove to be a very useful pickup for the Chiefs too. The former first-round pick never found his feet with the New York Giants, and the Chiefs pried him away from them before the trade deadline earlier in the season. The dynamic playmaker was compared to Tyreek Hill before the draft for his explosive playmaking ability and blistering speed. The playoffs could be a breakout story for Toney, and he's certainly one to keep an eye on.
Trevor Lawrence's journey as a professional quarterback is just beginning, and he has already made it to the Divisional Round of the playoffs in just his second season, despite the challenges of his rookie year under Urban Meyer.
Under the guidance of experienced coach Doug Pederson, who has worked with talented quarterbacks such as Brett Favre, Lawrence has shown remarkable improvement. During the first half of the playoff game against the Chargers, Lawrence threw four interceptions, and many had written him off as having one of the worst performances in NFL history. However, he made an incredible comeback in the second half, taking the game one play at a time, resulting in four passing touchdowns and a win.
The rest of the Jaguars team also deserves credit for their impressive performance, holding the Chargers' offense to only three points in the second half and allowing Lawrence to lead the team to victory. Throughout the second half of the season, the Jaguars have shown a pattern of strong second half performances and the ability to adjust to teams that are beating them, as seen in their Week 18 game against the Titans. Down 10 in the game, they battled back in the second half, silencing Derrick Henry and forcing their way to the top spot in the AFC South.
This team has shown that they can compete. With an unlikely group of wide receivers this season, the Jaguars offense has flourished. Trevor Lawrence is on a thrilling upwards trajectory, while free agency signings Evan Engram and Zay Jones both had career highs in receiving yards behind the team’s new number one Christian Kirk.
The Jaguars defense has been strong this season, and the young talent in the front seven, such as Devin Lloyd and Travon Walker, have a tremendously high ceiling. Lloyd had 115 tackles in his rookie year and Walker has been improving each week. The question is, can they put pressure on Patrick Mahomes and disrupt the Chiefs' complex offense in their upcoming game? The Jaguars struggled to contain the Chiefs' passing attack, particularly tight end Travis Kelce, in their previous meeting this season. The linebackers and safeties will need to be aware of this threat and work to limit it if they hope to secure an upset victory.
Jaguars vs Chiefs Prediction and Picks - NFL Divisional Round
Trevor Lawrence was sacked five times against the Chiefs when these two teams met earlier this season. If the Jaguars want to win this game, that can’t happen. They’re on a six-game win streak, and one of the glaringly obvious stats in those games is the line's ability to protect their quarterback. Lawrence has only been sacked more than once in one of those games, and that was Saturday's win over the Chargers. Every other game he’s only been taken down once at the very most.
The Chiefs have one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the league in Chris Jones, whose presence allows for effective blitzing by linebackers and edge rushers. The Jaguars will need to have a strong performance from their offensive line to combat this.
Winning at Arrowhead Stadium is a difficult task as the Chiefs have only lost once at home this season. While I predict the Chiefs will come out victorious, I also believe that the Jaguars will put up a strong fight and avoid a blowout loss. I expect the Jaguars to cover the spread and potentially win the turnover battle. Even if they lose, they will do so with dignity.
The Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars +8.5 (-110)
For the Jaguars to have a chance at winning, Trevor Lawrence and the offense will need to put up some points. Even though it's a road game, the Chiefs defense allows an average of 21 points per game. Lawrence and his offense will have the opportunity to score against the largely inexperienced secondary of the Chiefs.
Then of course Patrick Mahomes is suiting up on the opposite sideline and has the ability to score points even on his off days. Based on this, I predict that the game will have a high score and take the over.
Best NFL Player Prop Bets Divisional Round Today: Jaguars vs Chiefs
Best Jaguars Player Prop Bets Today
The Jaguars will need to approach the game strategically and avoid a high scoring passing competition with Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes' yardage line is set at 320 yards for a reason, and if the Jaguars attempt to match the Chiefs in the passing game, they may struggle to come out on top.
Doug Pederson will know that to increase their chances of winning, the Jaguars will need to utilize the talents of Travis Etienne and limit Trevor Lawrence's passing yards. I predict Lawrence will have less than 250 passing yards, and it's important not to rely on him throwing the ball 35-40 times during the game.
Best Chiefs Player Prop Bets Today
As Patrick Mahomes embarks on his playoff journey, he does so as a strong candidate for his second MVP award. He has shown this season that he can effectively utilize all his offensive weapons. I anticipate this trend will continue against the Jaguars' secondary. In their previous meeting this season, Mahomes threw four touchdowns against them, and I predict he will achieve at least three in this matchup.