NFL's Divisional Breakdown
MatchQuarters breaks down the matchups in this week's Divisional Round
We are one step closer to the Super Bowl. Last week’s Super Wildcard round had everything, including one of the best comebacks ever. Here are my thoughts on the Divisional matchups.
»» How’d I do last week? 5-1. I had the Vikings moving on for at least one more week.
When: 3:30 pm CST/NBC
Where: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO | 40° and rainy
What do the Nerds say about Jacksonville: Entering the game Saturday, Jacksonville is on a six-game win streak and an 8-2 in their last 10 games. The Jaguars hold a top-10 offense according to Football Outsiders DVOA, but their defense is one of the worst in the league, coming in at 26th overall. The Jags are bad where it counts against the Chiefs, too. Their passing DVOA comes in at #29. With an active front seven, the Jaguars have a respectable run defense, but when playing Patrick Mahomes, you need to be able to force throws into tight windows. Offensively, Jacksonville was able to keep a sustainable run game against the Chargers, but their rush DVOA still comes in at #20. RB Travis Etienne has been either hot or cold all season and will need consistency if the Jags are going to play keep away with the Chiefs’ offense. Passing is where this team excels. Trevor Lawrence survived a four-interception game against LAC, but that probably won’t be the case against KC. Trevor is currently on a cold spell, with his QBR in his last three games all dipping below the 60 mark.
What do the Nerds say about Kansas City: The Chiefs come in fourth in overall team DVOA behind the Bills, 49ers, and Eagles. Everyone focuses on the offense, and rightfully so. The unit comes in at #1 overall in DVOA. The second-best team (Bills) is seven percentage points away! If there is a concern for the Chiefs, it is in the run game, which is still top-10 in run DVOA (10th). The defense will be the key to the Chiefs’ success, as they do not want to get into “tennis matches” each round. KC’s defensive unit comes in at 17th overall in DVOA. The only thing the unit is top-10 in is their rush success rate (#9 - 39.4% - RBSDM). DT Chris Jones is having a monster year and sits #1 in ESPN’s pass rush win rate (PRWR) for iDL. A significant concern heading into the playoffs has to be their run-stopping ability. The Chiefs sit in last place in ESPN’s team run-stop win rate.
ESPN’s Matchup Predictor: KC with a 78.5% win probability
Key Matchup: Jags D-line vs. the Chiefs O-line. If you look at team PRWR, the Jags come in at #8. The Chiefs O-line comes in at #1 in pass block win rate (PBWR). KC is not prolific running the ball, but it doesn’t have to be when you have a future Hall of Famer like Mahomes. If Jacksonville is going to have any chance at all, they need to create chaos around Mahomes and assist their porous secondary. KC has four of its five O-linemen in the top 10 of individual PBWR.
Final Prediction: Time is running out on the Jags, who are probably an off-season or two away from being genuine contenders. The Chiefs have too much firepower on offense to lose to Jacksonville. If this becomes a shootout, the Chiefs’ defense is good enough to get a stop or too, while the Jaguars will lean heavily into their D-line to create some negative plays. The line is currently -9 in favor of the Chiefs. I have KC winning 31-21.