Chiefs vs. Jaguars 2013 game preview: Reid, Bradley make debuts

Jamie Squire

In a battle of 2-14 teams from last season, hope is renewed in this season opener.

The Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars will kick off their 2013 regular seasons against each other at EverBank Stadium on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Both teams finished 2-14 last year, forcing sweeping changes. Both organizations completely overhauled the front offices, with Jacksonville bringing in David Caldwelll and Kansas City hiring John Dorsey to become the respective general managers.

Caldwell has mostly stood pat, focusing on the draft to rebuild this once proud franchise. It's a move setting this team up for long-term success, keeping the salary cap number low until the time is right to strike in the market.

Dorsey has taken a decidedly different path. While saying he believes in building through the draft, Dorsey went out and acquired a bevy of free agents including Dunta Robinson, Mike DeVito, Sean Smith, Donnie Avery after trading for Alex Smith.

Meet the Jaguars

The Jaguars went out and hired ex-Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to his first head coaching position. Bradley is trying to install a winning attitude in Jacksonville, starting with the reclamation project of third-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

Gabbert won the preseason quarterback battle over Chad Henne, but isn't sure to play in this game thanks to a cracked thumb on his throwing hand. However, the Missouri product feels good in this offense by all accounts, which is styled much more like his college system with spread principles.

Defensively, there are two rookie starters in the secondary with corner Dwayne Gratz and safety Jonathan Cyprien. Jacksonville is depending on veterans Alan Ball and Dwight Lowery to guide these youngsters through their first NFL season. Up front, the leader is Paul Posluszny at the middle linebacker spot. Beyond him and defensive lineman Tyson Alualu, the talent is questionable.

Meet the Chiefs

On the other sideline is Andy Reid, coming over from the Philadelphia Eagles after 14 seasons. Unlike Bradley, Reid has a roster overhauled in many ways, starting with Smith. Smith was acquired via trade in the offseason for a pair of draft picks to replace the uninspiring duo of Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn.

The defense is one unit that could surprise in the league this season. With a hoard of former Pro Bowlers including Eric Berry, Brandon Flowers, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Justin Houston, the talent is there for Kansas City to be punishing. Under new defensive coordinator Bob Sutto, the Chiefs are in attack mode with blitzes coming from all angles.

Offensively, everything revolves around Reid's west coast offense. Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster will be seeing plenty of targets in the flat while Anthony Fasano and Dwayne Bowe will team with Avery for the intermediate and long routes.

Local takes: Jaguars

Alfie Crow of Big Cat Country says Charles is the biggest concern for Jacksonville:

The Jaguars run defense should be improved from the 2012 season, but in the preseason teams were still able to threaten the edge running the ball and were more successful than you would like to see. For someone like Jamaal Charles, that's a huge concern.

Local takes: Chiefs

Over at Arrowhead Pride, Joel Thorman says the Chiefs will make the playoffs if they're careful with the ball:

They are among the league low in turnovers. The Chiefs weren't 2-14 bad last season but they weren't 10-win good either. Their turnovers were amazingly bad. The Chiefs are going to win several more games this season just based on those fluky turnover stats coming back to earth as they always do.

If Alex Smith protects the football despite (presumably) throwing a career-high number of passes, the Chiefs are going to be at least a seven to nine win, middle of the road team.

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Big Cat Country and Arrowhead Pride, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

@BigCatCountry

@ArrowheadPride

@ryanohalloran

@Mellinger

Prediction

Both teams are coming off a dreadful season. However, the Chiefs added a solid quarterback and a proven head coach, while the Jaguars are trying to go young and build for the future. Both are good plans, but for now Kansas City is simply the more talented team. Jacksonville is going to run the ball with Maurice Jones-Drew in an effort to bleed the clock and give Gabbert manageable downs and distances. If the Jaguars can't run, they are going to struggle trying to score points. Kansas City doesn't have an offensive juggernaut, but it will score against a porous secondary and an average defensive front.

The pick: Chiefs 27-13

Odds

The Chiefs are favored on the road by four points over the Jaguars after the line came out as even, according to oddsshark.com.

Next week

Jacksonville travels to take on the Oakland Raiders while Kansas City hosts the Dallas Cowboys in its home opener.

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