JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars don’t seem to have fully moved on from last season.
They still feel like they should have beaten Kansas City in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs. And they can easily recall why it didn’t happen: allowing a 98-yard touchdown drive to a backup quarterback in the second quarter, failing to score on two possessions in the third and committing two turnovers in the fourth.
“We owe them,” tight end Evan Engram said.
The Jaguars consider it payback time — or at the very least an opportunity to stamp themselves a serious contender in the stacked AFC. Jacksonville (1-0) will try to start 2-0 for the second time in 17 seasons when it hosts the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs (0-1) on Sunday.
Kansas City is a 3 1/2-point favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
“We’re going to have to beat teams like this to get to where we want to go,” Jaguars receiver Christian Kirk said. “I think it’s really important for us to approach it that way. I’m looking forward to seeing how we respond when things get tough and hopefully come out on the positive side.”
The Chiefs are trying to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2014 and becoming the first Super Bowl champs to dig such a hole since Denver in 1999.
“It doesn’t feel good; you want to win,” Kansas City star quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “Obviously, you wanted to win that first game, but you didn’t, so you kind of have to just wash that from your mind and get onto the next game and try to make yourself better so you can go out there and get a win.”
Detroit stunned Kansas City 21-20 in the NFL’s opening game, a less-than-ideal offensive showing that included eight dropped passes. One of the three drops charged to receiver Kadarius Toney resulted in an interception returned for a touchdown.
“Just positive thinking, you know,” Toney said. “I’m just moving forward. I’m thinking about the next weekend, how I can make plays in the upcoming week. I’m not going to dwell on the past.”
The Jaguars might be, though.
They clearly took the playoff loss hard, and for a team that returned 21 of 22 starters — everyone except new Chiefs right tackle Jawaan Taylor — the offseason included plenty of reflection on what might have been.
“I think there’s that added, ‘Let’s go get this one. Let’s show who we are,’” Jags quarterback Trevor Lawrence said. “But it’s the next game for us. We’re just trying to go 1-0 this week. You can go 1-0 this week; that’s all you can do. You can’t go any further.
“We’re going to have 15 more after that. Don’t make it bigger than it is, but it is a big game. It’s an AFC game. It’s Kansas City coming into our place. We lost to them twice last year. We lost to them in the playoffs. Of course, there’s a little bit of that added edge for us.”
Chiefs All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones ended his holdout and rejoined the team this week after agreeing to a one-year deal that includes incentives for sacks and various awards that could push his salary higher than the $19.5 million base he was scheduled to make.
Jones hopes to play against Jacksonville, but how much remains to be seen. He practiced on Wednesday and Thursday before a typical Friday walkthrough.
“I didn’t want to be a distraction of holding in,” Jones said. “I’m super pleased how it turned out. I’m back in the building, I’m excited to be back, super thankful for the Chiefs who boosted my salary. ... We’re focused on the next game.”
Kansas City All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce could play after missing the season opener against Detroit with a hyperextended knee. Kelce had a bone bruise and some swelling in his knee, but he avoided any ligament damage and returned to practice Wednesday.
“He’s made progress,” Reid said, “and again, I’m taking those guys day by day, see how they’re doing.”
TEACHER VS. PUPIL
Jaguars coach Doug Pederson is winless in three games against Reid, his close friend and mentor. All three came at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
The Chiefs beat Pederson and Philadelphia 27-20 in Week 2 of the 2017 season. The Chiefs swept the Jaguars last season, winning 27-17 in Week 10 and 27-20 in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.
“I got a ton of respect for coach Reid and his career and what he’s done,” Pederson said. “Obviously you’d love to eventually win a football game against him.”
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Mark Long, The Associated Press