Kansas City welcomes the Jacksonville Jaguars to Arrowhead Stadium for the divisional playoffs on Saturday, and the Chiefs are the team to beat as the top seed in the AFC.
Kansas City (14-3) beat the Jaguars (10-8) on the same field on Nov. 13, a 27-17 win that included four Patrick Mahomes TD passes. But that was before the Jaguars closed out the season with a five-game winning streak and capped it with a 27-point rally to start the postseason with a hip toss of the Los Angeles Chargers.
Kansas City opened as a consensus 9.5-point favorite, which dropped to 8.5 points at most books. Jacksonville is the NFL's biggest underdog in the four weekend games based on the spread.
At BetMGM, 79 percent of the handle (money wagered) is behind the Chiefs to cover, and the same percentage took the Kansas City money line, up from -400 to -450.
"House money or our money, we're here now," Jaguars coach Doug Pederson said on Tuesday.
BetRivers said Friday that 70 percent of wagers were on the Chiefs to cover and around the same percentage of wagers on the total of 52 points were placed on the over.
Only 12.5 percent of money line wagers at BetRivers were placed on the underdog Jaguars.
Since the 27-17 verdict went Kansas City's way during the regular season, Kansas City was 7-1 the rest of the regular season -- the only blemish a 27-24 loss at Cincinnati on Dec. 4 -- to post the best record in the conference. Jacksonville also is 7-1 since that day, including the confidence-catapulting rally to down the Chargers.
"They've got a lot of phenomenal players on that defense and they're playing faster," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of what stands out about the Jaguars over the past two months.
A slow start for the Jaguars spelled doom in the earlier visit to Kansas City, one of eight games in their last 10 in which they didn't score a first-quarter touchdown. The Chiefs put up 20 first-half points, dictating the game plan for Pederson the rest of the way. Jacksonville converted only 28.6 percent of its third-down chances, all but spiking any comeback bid.
"I try to block out the best I can with the team," Pederson said Tuesday. "You just block out the noise, you block out the negativity, whether it's lack of respect or whatever. What we've done down the stretch, regardless of the mishaps, we're here."
Saturday's forecast in Kansas City shows a growing chance for rain and snow developing later in the afternoon and daytime high temperatures between 34 and 36 degrees.
Jaguars RB Travis Etienne Over 17.5 Receiving Yards (-110 at BetMGM): The most bet player prop at BetMGM, where the public is banking on a runaway win for the Chiefs that would invite a two-minute type of offense from the Jaguars for much of the second half, as last week's game script did against the Chargers. Etienne caught one pass for 12 yards against Los Angeles last week and had 35 receptions this season. He had three receptions for 38 yards at Kansas City in the Nov. 13 loss to the Chiefs, when quarterback Trevor Lawrence attempted 40 passes. Etienne had at least 17 receiving yards in each of the Jaguars' final four regular-season games.
Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence over 1.5 TD Passes (-114 at FanDuel): Accustomed to playing with the lead, the Chiefs allowed 33 touchdown passes this season and Lawrence had four last week. Recent playoff history reveals the Chiefs are anything but bulletproof despite their run of success, and Kansas City was hit for 10 touchdowns -- eight through the air -- last postseason.
Chiefs RB Jerick McKinnon Over 4.5 Receptions (-110 at Caesars Sportsbook): McKinnon caught 14 passes in last year's playoffs and Mecole Hardman (pelvis) being inactive Saturday could boost his target share. The public is going with the under here -- skewing odds all the way to -120 at FanDuel -- but don't dismiss his eight targets and six receptions in the first meeting with the Jaguars. Also noteworthy here is the red-zone looks going to McKinnon. He scored in the regular-season finale and has TD catches in six consecutive games, which includes a pair of two-TD efforts.
--Field Level Media