The Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday to move to 1-0 on the season and take hold of the first-place spot in the AFC South. But their Week 2 opponent will almost certainly be more challenging.
The Jaguars will host the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday in a rematch of last season’s divisional-round matchup between the teams.
The Chiefs lost to the Detroit Lions in the first game of the NFL season Sept. 7, but they may have tight end Travis Kelce and defensive lineman Chris Jones — likely the second and third best players on the team — available for the first time this season.
Here are five Jaguars players to watch in their Week 2 home opener versus the Chiefs:
Offensive lineman Tyler Shatley wasn’t supposed to be in the starting lineup this week. But after Brandon Scherff suffered an ankle injury against the Colts, Shatley filled in for the veteran guard.
This week, Scherff may be out of the lineup, which would likely push Shatley back into the lineup. And he would have a tough matchup this week against the Chiefs’ defensive line.
Kansas City’s defensive front is potentially its best unit, and its interior is its strength. Shatley would likely line up against Derrick Nnadi and Jones, who is expected to make his season debut after resolving his contract dispute.
With Mike Danna also on the Chiefs’ interior defensive line, Shatley will need to be at the top of his game, assuming he gets the start.
RB Tank Bigsby
Rookie running back Tank Bigsby didn’t have an ideal start to his NFL career. After receiving praise for his training camp and preseason, Bigsby had a game to forget in Indianapolis.
Bigsby found the endzone, but he only managed 19 yards on seven rushes (1.9 yards per carry), and his only target slipped through his hands for an interception. He also lost a fumble when Colts linebacker Zaire Franklin punched the ball out of his hands on a play the Jaguars thought was dead.
But his Week 1 performance doesn’t make him any less important to the Jaguars. He will be crucial as a more physical running back that can give starter Travis Etienne Jr. rest when needed.
Against a tough Chiefs defensive line, Bigsby could see more usage if Etienne is worn down by the Chiefs’ physicality. And he’ll need to have a better day than he had in Indianapolis.
WR Zay Jones
Wide receiver Zay Jones could be the beneficiary of a good matchup against the Chiefs. Calvin Ridley and Christian Kirk will likely be the No. 1 and No. 2 options, respectively, but this means they will receive most of the defense’s attention.
Cornerbacks L’Jarius Snead and Trent McDuffie will most likely be focused on Ridley and Kirk, leaving Jones as the forgotten piece.
However, quarterback Trevor Lawrence has a strong connection with Jones, who had the second-most targets in the Jaguars’ win over the Colts. Lawrence threw to Jones seven times and connected on five of those throws for 55 yards and a touchdown.
If the Chiefs focus their efforts on stopping Ridley and Kirk, it could be Jones who once again thrives in the No. 3 role.
As a versatile defensive weapon, safety Andre Cisco has to be at the top of his game Sunday. Last week, Cisco tallied 10 tackles and did what was asked of him. This week, his job isn’t any easier.
Kansas City’s offensive playmakers struggled, but the Chiefs were without Kelce. If the offense can get going, and the Chiefs’ dynamic receivers can get the ball in their hands, they can be tough to stop.
Last year, Cisco was spectacular against the Chiefs and earned a bit of a villain reputation in Kansas City to boot.
He’ll have to do his part again this season to prevent big plays Sunday. He may also have to help slow Kelce, who is likely the league’s best tight end. With a weak running game, the Chiefs passing attack will be their strongest asset.
OLB Josh Allen
Not only is edge rusher Josh Allen the Jaguars’ best pass rusher, but he should expect to match up against a familiar face. Offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor is in his first season with the Chiefs, and he’s already going to face his former teammates.
Taylor and Allen know each other’s games and have seen plenty of reps against one another. Their familiarity and talent should make their matchup one of the most entertaining battles to watch Sunday.
Allen was dominant against the Colts last week; he racked up 10 total tackles and three sacks. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is maybe the most difficult quarterback to sack in the NFL, so if Allen can get anywhere close to this production, the Jaguars will be in a much better place.