With all due respect to the Minnesota / Philadelphia NFC Championship rematch, arguably the best game on today’s NFL slate is the 3-1 Jacksonville Jaguars traveling to Arrowhead to face the 4-0 Kansas City Chiefs. This is your classic offense / defense throwdown as Jacksonville’s #1 rated defense takes on the Chiefs top ranked scoring offense. Kansas City’s QB Pat Mahomes is key in the 2018 NFL week 5 AFC free pick – but he has yet to see a defense like the Jaguars in his young 5-start career.
Could the Jaguars Offense Be the Real Winning Factor Today?
For all the hype that the Chiefs offense gets, it can’t be overlooked that their defense has been historically bad through the first quarter of the season. KC ranks dead last in yards allowed (451.8), 2nd to last in passing yards given up per game (328.5) and 28th in rushing yards surrendered at 123.3. Oddsmakers have set the total for the 2018 NFL week 5 AFC free pick at 49 so it’s the Jaguars offense that could really have the big day. The Jags have put up 30+ points in 2 of the last 3 games. QB Blake Bortles has 6TD to 2INT the last 3 weeks and WR’s Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook have shown big play potential with a combined 10 catches of 20+ yards this season. Leonard Fournette returned from a hamstring injury last week but has been ruled out for Sunday’s game. Backup TJ Yeldon is also battling an ankle issue so Jacksonville may have to rely more on their passing attack.
The forecast for gametime today is 61 degrees with an 82% chance of rain which has to help the Jacksonville defense vs. the high powered KC offense. Not that the Jags needed a whole lot of assistance on that side of the ball however. The Jaguars have been their usual dominant self thorough 4 games, ranking 1st in the NFL in total yards allowed, scoring defense, pass yards given up and 10th in rushing yards. The Jaguars have given up a combined 21 points the last two weeks and their high score for points allowed in a year is 20 in week 2 vs. New England. What has been lacking for the Jags so far is the big play as they have just 10 sacks and 3 takeaways on defense. Is that where Mahomes and Co. take advantage?
Less than ideal conditions for Jaguars-Chiefs. pic.twitter.com/dDycFiv5WG
— Michael DiRocco (@ESPNdirocco) October 7, 2018
Will Rain Soaked Field Slow Down Kansas City?
QB Patrick Mahomes has been the 1st quarter MVP of the NFL but you have to remember that today will be just his 6th NFL start. Regardless, the youngster has been great with 14TD to 0 INT on the season, which is why Jacksonville’s inefficiency to produce turnovers could hurt them in the 2018 NFL week 5 AFC free pick. Even more impressive is that 3 of KC’s 4 games this season have been on the road whereas Jacksonville travels for the first time since Week 1 today. Does the rain hurt – or help Kansas City? Explosive players like Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Sammy Watkins could actually have an advantage in the rain as they know which way they’re cutting.
The Kansas City defense has been bad this year – but there’s reason to believe they could turn things around today. As stated, the Jaguars are going on the road for the first time in three weeks for today’s contest. The Jags offense has been explosive in some games, but they also laid an egg two weeks ago in a 6-9 loss at home to Tennessee as -10 favorites. The Jaguars produced just 232 yards of total offense that day which is why KC may have some momentum, especially while playing in front of the home crowd for just the 2nd time in 5 weeks.
2018 NFL Week 5 AFC Free Pick
Kansas City is working on a short week after a come-from-behind win in Mile High Stadium on Monday night. That definitely works against the Chiefs today but they’ve answered the bell each time this season, getting wins at the division rival Chargers, in Pittsburgh, and avoiding a letdown vs. San Francisco who had a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo for most of the game. The Jags would be a solid play today if their running game was healthy and due to their great defense but it’s hard to trust them going on the road for the first time in a month. KC has something special going, and the Arrowhead crowd gets to enjoy it in person.
AFC Free Pick: Kansas City Chiefs -3