The Kansas City Chiefs start a brand new season on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, hoping to erase the memory of all that transpired in 2012.
While no team is an easy win, this game represents a golden opportunity to get out of the blocks quickly and feel good going into the home opener in Week 2. Some may feel this is overstating it a bit, but if the Chiefs lose this game there isn't much inspiration for the season.
Road games are tough to win in the NFL, and this has to be one for Kansas City. To secure that victory, these five things must happen.
1. Stop MJD
Maurice Jones-Drew is the best weapon Jacksonville employs. He's a very tough runner and can catch the ball out of the backfield, forcing defenses to pay attention to him at all times. If the Chiefs can contain Jones-Drew and keep him under 4 yards per carry, they should be just fine. Make Blaine Gabbert beat you.
2. Make the Jaguars got 80+
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When playing a team you should beat, the easiest way to lose is giving up a cheap touchdown either via a return or a turnover within either red zone. Kansas City has to force the Jaguars to travel long distances to score every time they have the ball. If Jacksonville can drive the ball 70, 80 yards at a time, they deserve to win.
3. Keep those chains moving
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On third downs, Alex Smith has to prove he was worth the draft picks. Matt Cassel could never complete a 3rd and 7 on a consistent basis. This problem has to disappear, especially against the Jaguars, who are projected to start rookies Dwayne Gratz and Jonathan Cyprien.
4. Get to Gabbert
Gabbert is a young quarterback with accuracy issues. If the Chiefs can get pressure, most notably without blitzing, it could lead to some bad throws and an opportunity at a defensive touchdown. Like Kansas City, Jacksonville has a right tackle making his pro debut. Justin Houston should be taking advantage of this all day.
5. Dex and JC
Get the ball into the hands of Dexter McCluster and Jamaal Charles on quick throws. The Jaguars play a 4-3 defense, making them slightly more vulnerable to running backs catching the ball in space.