Kansas City Chiefs (0-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla. – TV: CBS
*TV announcers: Spero Dedes, Steve Tasker
*Keys to the game: New Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was far too often enamored with the passing game in Philadelphia, but he brought QB Alex Smith to Kansas City to run a steady attack through the air that limits turnovers. RB Jamaal Charles is the driving force of the offense, and Smith has always had his most success when managing an effective play-action game that doesn’t require stretching the field. He’ll engineer clock-draining drives. The question will be how productive the Chiefs are in the red zone. Jacksonville is transitioning to new coach Gus Bradley’s single-high safety scheme and aren’t likely to blitz heavily. Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew says he’s ready to handle a full workload, and he’ll need to with QB Blaine Gabbert (thumb) likely a game-day decision.
*Matchup to watch – Chiefs RT Eric Fisher vs. Jaguars LDE Tyson Alualu: The No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft looked overwhelmed at the beginning of training camp but looked more comfortable manning the right side of Kansas City’s offensive line as the preseason drew to a close. Jacksonville lacks elite pass rushers to really put the rookie to the test, but Alualu is a good run stopper who can occasionally provide a push into the backfield. Fisher can also expect to see veteran DE Jason Babin, who at 33 could enjoy a resurgence in the Leo role in coach Gus Bradley’s scheme.
*Player spotlight – Jaguars RT Luke Joeckel: Joeckel and Fisher’s careers will be forever intertwined after experts were split on who should go first in the draft. Joeckel is expected to eventually take over the blind-side protector role, but for now is on the right side where he’ll do battle with LOLB Justin Houston in passing situations.
*Fast facts: Charles had three touchdown runs of 80-plus yards in 2012, tying the NFL single-season record. … Jacksonville’s Gus Bradley will be making his NFL head coaching debut. Bradley was defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks last season.
WHO WILL WIN AND WHY
This is a barometer game for both teams debuting new head coaches against a beatable opponent – an opportunity neither side saw often in 2012. There’s more continuity, fewer injury concerns and more stable quarterback play for the Chiefs.
*Our pick: Chiefs 19-13