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Five Things to Watch on Sunday | Chiefs vs. Jaguars

Here are some notes to know heading into the game

The Kansas City Chiefs will look to get back on track this weekend as they head to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars.

Here are five things to keep in mind heading into game day.

1. Here's a look at the final injury report for both teams.

Tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire (sick) and linebacker Nick Bolton (excused) didn't practice for the Chiefs on Friday, per Head Coach Andy Reid.

As for tight end Travis Kelce (knee) and defensive tackle Chris Jones, Coach Reid had some positive news to share.

"As long as nothing happens, they'll be out there [on Sunday]," Reid said.

Kelce and Edwards-Helaire are both officially listed as Questionable for Sunday. The Jaguars, meanwhile, listed starting offensive guard Brandon Scherff (ankle) and starting center Luke Fortner (ankle) as Questionable, although Head Coach Doug Pederson reported that both linemen will play on Sunday.

2. Jaguars' quarterback Trevor Lawrence likes to get rid of the football quickly.

Lawrence was tremendous for the Jaguars last season, particularly down the stretch, but a hallmark of his game was a quick release of the football. In fact, Lawrence's average time-to-throw of 2.52 seconds in 2022 ranked third among all qualified quarterbacks, trailing only the Buccaneers' Tom Brady (2.30 seconds) and the Bengals' Joe Burrow (2.49 seconds).

Additionally, on those quick throws, Lawrence was among the best quarterbacks in the NFL, as only Burrow (22) and Patrick Mahomes (21) threw more touchdown passes on throws that took place in under 2.5 seconds last season. Furthermore, Lawrence's 17 touchdown passes on quick throws made up nearly 70 percent of his season total of 25 overall touchdowns.

Lawrence was not as successful, however, on throws that took longer than 2.5 seconds to develop. Here's a look at last season's splits for further context:

Throws in less than 2.5 seconds (56.4% of dropbacks): Lawrence completed 75.4% of his passes for 2,411 yards, 17 touchdowns and three interceptions with a passer rating of 105.8.

Throws in over 2.5 seconds (43.3% of dropbacks): Lawrence completed 52.8% of his passes for 1,702 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions with a passer rating of 79.6.

It's all to say that if the Chiefs' defense can cover Lawrence's initial read and disrupt the rhythm of Jacksonville's quick-strike offense, the numbers indicate that it could go a long way in slowing the Jaguars' ability to move the football.

Lawrence's tendency to get rid of the football quickly continued into Week 1, too. He averaged 2.34 seconds-per-dropback in the Jaguars' victory over Indianapolis, trailing only Cowboys' quarterback Dak Prescott (2.11 seconds) and Joe Burrow (2.32 seconds) among his peers. It's worth noting that Lawrence was mostly excellent on extended plays in Week 1, however, completing 9-of-12 passes for 115 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

One player who likely contributed to that success was new wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who caught eight passes for 101 yards and a touchdown last week. Ridley is a dynamic player who tallied receptions of 24, 29 and 14 yards vs. Indianapolis. If the play breaks down, Ridley will likely be Lawrence's top target.

3. The Chiefs were successful in slowing down tailback Travis Etienne last season, but they'll need to do it again.

Other than Ridley, Etienne is arguably the Jaguars' top offensive weapon. The former first-round pick tallied 1,441 yards from scrimmage in 2022, logging 1,125 rushing yards and 316 yards through the air. He recorded at least 100 yards from scrimmage in eight of his final 13 games, ranking 10th in the NFL in total scrimmage yards from Week 5 through the end of the regular season.

Fortunately, the Chiefs never really let Etienne get going in either of his matchups against Kansas City last year. Etienne amassed 73 scrimmage yards in Week 10 and 80 scrimmage yards in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, scoring just one total touchdown across the two matchups. That effort, of course, helped lead to victories in both games.

Kansas City will need to slow down Etienne yet again on Sunday.

4. Kansas City has an opportunity to build on last week's strong defensive performance.

The final result last Thursday was a disappointing one, but the play of the Chiefs' defense was certainly a positive. Kansas City held Detroit – the league's No. 5 scoring offense from a year ago – to just 5-of-15 on third down while yielding only two offensive touchdowns.

Kansas City notched a red-zone takeaway (a forced fumble by cornerback Trent McDuffie) and held on a short fourth-down attempt late in the fourth quarter that gave the Chiefs' offense a chance to win the game.

Altogether, it was a strong showing that should provide an excellent foundation for the remainder of the season as the defense aims to build on Thursday's performance.

"It was a group effort…We knew that we had to click on all cylinders and execute," said Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. "That was a good football team that we went against – a good offense. Like I said, I was proud overall, [but] there were still some things that we need to clean up. The disappointing things were the missed tackles in the fourth quarter, and really one third down red-zone play that could have been a four-point play. It might have been the difference in the game, that's how close it was."

5. Will Jacksonville send additional rushers after Patrick Mahomes?

The Jaguars' ability to generate pressure on Patrick Mahomes will be an area to watch on Sunday. On one end, Jaguars' edge rusher Josh Allen recorded three sacks all by himself last week. He leads a Jacksonville pass-rush that also includes Travon Walker, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. This is a formidable group, but for what it's worth, Mahomes was excellent against them last season when Jacksonville chose not to blitz.

In fact, when the Jaguars didn't blitz during last season's Week 10 matchup – and they only blitzed six times – Mahomes completed 22-of-29 passes for 282 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 9.7 yards-per-attempt. According to Pro Football Focus' grading system, it was Mahomes best game of the season when not blitzed.

The Jaguars' six total blitzes on Mahomes in Week 10 matched a season-low. They clearly didn't want to risk blitzing the soon-to-be league MVP on a regular basis, but if Mahomes can find similar success vs. Jacksonville's four-man front on Sunday, it will be interesting to see how the Jaguars adjust.

Additionally, Mahomes turns 28 years old on Sunday. The last time he played on his birthday, Mahomes – then at Texas Tech – threw for 470 yards and five touchdowns while leading the Red Raiders to a victory over Louisiana Tech.

A similar birthday celebration would be a welcome development on Sunday as the Chiefs aim to get back on track.