Chiefs at Jaguars Picks and Week 1 NFL Odds
by Alan Matthews - 7/23/2013
Thank goodness for sports betting. Why? Because unless you are a Kansas City Chiefs or Jacksonville Jaguars fan, I don't expect you would give a hoot about this matchup if you couldn't bet on it. These teams combined for an ugly four wins a year ago and picked Nos. 1 and 2 in the 2013 draft, each taking a future left tackle. Nothing much sexy there.
Both had major quarterback issues in 2012. The Chiefs went in a total different direction this offseason. New coach Andy Reid, who essentially makes all the personnel decisions, traded for the 49ers' Alex Smith. The former No. 1 overall pick looked rejuvenated the past two years in San Francisco, but was that a mirage of coaching and a good team around him? We'll see. The Jaguars probably have the worst QB situation in football, with former first-round pick Blaine Gabbert likely to win the job over Chad Henne in camp. It's probably Gabbert's last chance to prove he's an NFL starter. He wasn't the draft choice of new GM Dave Caldwell or new coach Gus Bradley, the former Seattle defensive coordinator, so they have no invested ties to keep Gabbert around. Interestingly, the Jaguars were the only team to hire a head coach this offseason with a defensive background. Bradley probably would have been offered the Eagles job before Oregon's Chip Kelly changed his mind about taking it.
Chiefs at Jaguars Betting Story Lines
I fully expect Jacksonville to finish with the worst record in the NFL and take a quarterback at No. 1 in next year's draft. I'm still shocked it didn't take West Virginia's Geno Smith with the first pick of this year's second round. Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater is the current top-rated QB likely to be available. Reigning Heisman winner Johnny Manziel would bring the franchise some much-needed buzz, but he's not worthy of being drafted that high. It would be hard for Jacksonville to pass on South Carolina defensive demon Jadeveon Clowney, that's for sure. If Alex Smith struggles, it wouldn't surprise me to see Reid take a QB early as well.
Expect plenty of running in this one with two of the NFL's top backs in Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew and Kansas City's Jamaal Charles. MJD, who wants a new contract and out of Jacksonville, was limited to just six games last year due to a Lisfranc foot injury -- he was just cleared for camp this week. This is the final year of MJD's contract. I could see him being traded during the year. The Jags won't have second-year receiver Justin Blackmon for the start of camp after he underwent off season groin surgery. He's also suspended the first four games of the year. He led all NFL rookies with 64 receptions and 865 yards in 2012. Jacksonville was No. 29 in total yards last year and 30th in points (15.9). Expect more of the same. About the only reason to watch Jacksonville when it has the ball is to see how it uses former Michigan star Denard Robinson. He's listed as an OW -- offensive weapon. That's awesome.
The Chiefs were even worse offensively despite ranking No. 5 in rushing because of their QB problems. K.C. ranked dead last in passing and in points, a ridiculous 13.2 per game. Remember, the Chiefs didn't lead a game in regulation last year until Week 10, which is even more ridiculous. Charles had two games of at least 225 yards rushing in 2012, finishing fourth in the NFL with 1,509. Alex Smith should improve the offense, but Kansas City has to get something from receiver Jonathan Baldwin, a former first-round pick. Otherwise the opposition will continue to double-cover Dwayne Bowe. It's not a coincidence that Charles averaged an obscene 6.4 yards per carry in 2010 when Bowe had his biggest season. For sure it's hard to imagine the Chiefs turning the ball over 37 times again. Of those 37, a whopping 16 came while the Chiefs were still within their own 30-yard line. No wonder the team rarely led. Smith threw only a combined 10 picks in his two seasons under Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco.
Chiefs at Jaguars Betting Odds and Trends
At WagerWeb, the Chiefs are 3.5-point opening favorites with a total of 39.5. That's tied for the lowest total with Dolphins-Browns. Kansas City was 5-11 ATS last season (2-6 on road) and 6-9-1 “over/under” (3-4-1 on road). Jacksonville was 7-9 ATS (2-6 at home) and 7-9 O/U (also 2-6 at home). The Chiefs were favored once in 2012 and lost 26-16 at home to Oakland. The Jags were dogs in every game but one. Both times they were at plus-3.5, at Minnesota and home against Tennessee, they covered (beating the Titans). The Jags closed last year covering just once in their final five. K.C. failed to cover in its final four.
Chiefs at Jaguars Picks and NFL Week 1 Betting Predictions
I do think the Chiefs are much better than a two-win team and that Reid's coaching alone is good for a couple of victories. The Jags probably have the least amount of talent in the NFL, and their receiving corps is a joke without Blackmon. Normally I'd jump on a team getting 3.5 points at home against another team that isn't a powerhouse, but the Jags stunk at home in 2012. I'd feel better if this was down to three, but take the Chiefs and the under.
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