Five to Watch: Chiefs vs. Jaguars

Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles

On Sunday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs open the regular season with plenty of optimism ahead. But despite the fact they're the favorites to defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars, KC's cream has to rise to the top in order to leave the sunshine state with a victory.

1. RB Jamaal Charles - All season long he'll have a bull's-eye on his back. That means he must bring his Superman aura to each contest this season. Against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, he'll be facing a formidable front four. If there is strength to the Chiefs counterparts, they are strong and steady in the defensive trenches.

Until proven otherwise the majority of NFL teams facing the Chiefs in September will stack the box to contain Sir Charles. Should that occur then Quarterback, Alex Smith has to deliver the goods through the air.

The key for KC's offense is getting Charles in open spaces. If he can wrestle away from the Jaguars front four, he could deliver the goods on a 150-yard rushing day that could lead to a touchdown or two.

2. LB Justin Houston - For my money, he is the Chiefs premier defensive player. Entering his third NFL season he's ready to break out into an elite player. In my book, he's as good a pass rusher as the Broncos, Von Miller.

With fellow linebacker, Tamba Hali, still searching to return to his sack mastering self, Houston has the opportunity to make a statement against the Jaguars on Sunday.

It's likely Houston will be matched up against rookie right tackle, Luke Joekel. The former Texas A&M standout vowed to seek revenge against the Chiefs for not taking him #1 overall. Thus his over exuberance could have him so charged up to show the Chiefs they made a mistake in passing on his services, Houston could school him on Sunday pushing that talk to mute decimal levels.

3. K Ryan Succop - So why did I put a kicker in my top five? Well based on previous history when the Chiefs face opponents of lesser abilities they generally play down to that competition. Let's face it the Jaguars are just not a good football team right now. But trust me, they can defeat the Chiefs on Sunday.

If the Chiefs offense gets off to a slow start or two, then Succop could provide some early or late field goals that could ultimately be the difference in the game. Though I'm firmly convinced based on the Chiefs entire special teams prowess that could result in points on the scoreboard and positive field position, the humid air of Florida, might be the games determining factor.

That means Succop needs to be all nails every time he puts his right foot into the ball.

4. TE Anthony Fasano - It wasn't overlooked by many Chiefs fans that the former Miami Dolphins tight end inked the only four-year contract KC's brass offered this to any free agent last spring. It was clear the Chiefs wanted to upgrade the position and Fasano, along with rookie Travis Kelce, are going to be busy on Sunday.

In Andy Reid's west coast offense, the tight ends are going to be active. In the preseason they were busy and in the regular season they better be ready on every offensive snap.

The Jaguars aren't blessed with great linebackers so in the open spaces created by the Chiefs offensive sets, Fasano could see the ball thrown to him a multitude of times.

5. HC Andy Reid - Perhaps I saved the best for last. This is a huge game for KC's new head coach. To date, he's pushed all the right buttons in regards to building his coaching staff, adding and subtracting players and getting them ready for the start of the regular season.

Because of the way he was unceremoniously kicked out of the Philadelphia Eagles organization, he came to the Chiefs with a chip on his shoulder. Kansas City was a perfect fit for Reid because this organization was desperate to find new leadership and someone with a strong coaching hand.

In opening the season against the Jaguars on the road, it's a perfect opportunity to show that he can quickly adjust to the AFC. Further, if he should prevail by a wide margin, it's a chance to show why some NFL experts believe Reid will receive multiple coaching accolades and awards at seasons end.

If that occurs, the Chiefs could find a post season birth in January.


WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Will Andy Reid be the determining factor in Sunday's game versus the Jaguars?


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