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Mr. Laz
10-13-2004, 10:36 AM
Posted on Tue, Oct. 12, 2004

Chiefs get Jaguars at right time

By ADAM TEICHER

The Kansas City Star


If the Chiefs are going to make up ground in the AFC West, this is a good week for them to do it.

The 1-3 Chiefs had a week to recharge and continue their two-game road trip Sunday in Jacksonville. The 3-2 Jaguars are suddenly stumbling after their fast start. They've lost two straight, including Sunday's blowout in San Diego.

The division's two top teams, meanwhile, are also on the road. The 4-1 Broncos are in Oakland, and the 3-2 Chargers are in Atlanta.

In a perfect world, the Chiefs would return home from Florida a half-game behind the Raiders and Chargers and 1½ behind the Broncos.

The equation works only if the Chiefs win in Jacksonville.

“Every game now has the ability to put us back in the race,” guard Brian Waters said. “That's how we have to look at it.”

The Chiefs, who play Atlanta and Indianapolis at Arrowhead Stadium after the game in Jacksonville, don't have a schedule conducive to getting back to even footing with the Broncos any time soon.

But often, what makes the difference is not who's on the schedule but when. There's no bigger case in point than Sunday's game. The Jaguars started 3-0 and the Chiefs 0-3, suggesting they were teams headed in distinctly different directions.

Now the Jaguars have dropped two straight, and the Chiefs have some momentum from their recent win in Baltimore. The Chiefs were established as favorites by oddsmakers by as much as 2½ points.

“With injuries in this league, you're never sure what team you're going to get,” Waters said. “You just don't know how it's going to be from week to week.”

The Jaguars won't have any new injury issues when they play the Chiefs. They have some sudden defensive issues.

They went to San Diego with a defense ranked third in the league in points and eighth in yardage. After allowing 34 points and almost 400 yards against the Chargers, Jacksonville is now ninth in scoring defense and 11th in total defense.

“I expect to go in there and play a very good Jacksonville team,” defensive end Vonnie Holliday said. “Last week, they hit a bump in the road. This is the National Football League. You saw Atlanta, they've been playing great and they lost to Detroit. Who would have thought that? There's a lot of upsets. But they're back at home and they'll be fired up.”

The Jaguars aren't yet the desperate team the Chiefs are, but they too are seeing their division title hopes slipping away. Jacksonville trails the first-place Colts by a game in the AFC South and finishes its two-game season series against Indianapolis next week.

So while things may not be desperate for the Jaguars, they certainly are urgent.

“I think we'll see Jacksonville play like they played when they were undefeated,” Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil said. “It's hard to be as good as you can be every single week. You travel out to the West Coast and all of a sudden, it doesn't go quite as well and you get beat. But they beat Denver at home already.”

The Chiefs have already proved they can survive during desperate times. They were staring at an 0-4 record and a hopeless last three months of the season had they lost in Baltimore.

But they responded with their best game of the season, one that wasn't as close as the three-point margin indicated. The Chiefs had better get used to that desperate feeling.

“When you're 1-3, you're not much better than when you're 0-3,” Waters said. “It was good to get that first win, but we've also got to understand we've got to get back in the race. We've got teams in our division that are doing well for themselves right now and against the same teams we've played. So the urgency is still there for us. We've got to win games. We've got to put a string of games together.”

• INJURY UPDATE: Vermeil said injured defensive tackle Ryan Sims (hamstring) and linebacker Scott Fujita (ankle) were unlikely to play in Jacksonville. Neither practiced Monday when the Chiefs returned to work after a five-day break.

Sims would probably be replaced in the starting lineup by Holliday. He would start at right end with John Browning moving to Sims' spot at tackle. Fred Jones replaced Fujita in practice Monday, but the Chiefs in Jacksonville may use Kawika Mitchell in the middle with Monty Beisel shifting to Fujita's spot on the outside.

Wide receiver Eddie Kennison returned to practice and will play Sunday.

Tony Gonzalez experienced soreness in the foot that gave him problems during the off-season and training camp but should play Sunday unless he has further problems. Defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson left practice early because of a sore knee and didn't return.

• CHEEK'S ACTIVATION NEAR: Punter Steve Cheek, who missed the last two games because of a sore calf muscle, could be activated from the practice squad as soon as today.


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