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Doug Pederson: No one expects us to do anything, so go play and see what happens

Peter King and Myles Simmons look ahead to the divisional round matchup between the Jaguars and Chiefs, as a dangerous Jacksonville offense looks to keep up with Patrick Mahomes.

The Chiefs, Bills, and Bengals came into the season as the biggest favorites in the AFC, so it is no surprise to see them among the final four teams alive in the conference playoffs.

The Jaguars are a bigger surprise. They earned the first overall pick in the draft the last two years and had a new head coach in Doug Pederson after 2021’s Urban Meyer debacle, so expectations were low and they remained that way when the Jags opened the year with a 2-6 record.

Jacksonville’s fortunes changed dramatically in the second half of the season, however, and they carry a six-game winning streak into Kansas City this Saturday. They’re heavy underdogs to the Chiefs and heading into a tough place to play, but head coach Doug Pederson’s message to to the team is that there’s no reason not to go out and play free because they’ve already gone further than anybody thought they would.

“It’s a great atmosphere,” Pederson said, via the team’s website. “We have to embrace it. No one expects us to do anything, so go play, have fun, enjoy the moment and let’s see what happens. We’ve put ourselves in this position to be one of the four remaining AFC teams and you have a lot to play for. Whether we win, whether we lose, our season was a huge success from that standpoint: first year together, overcome a lot of adversity from last year to this year and pushing these guys through.”

The Jaguars showed a lot of resiliency in the regular season again last Saturday with their comeback from 27-0 down to beat the Chargers, so there’s no reason to think that they’ll roll over for the Chiefs this weekend. And, if they do lose, it will still feel like the team is just at the beginning of what could be an extended run of success.