The Jacksonville Jaguars host the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday night in the AFC’s first wild-card game. Jacksonville routed Los Angeles 38-10 when these two teams met in Week 3. However, the stakes are much larger this time around and it will be interesting to see who steps up.
Jacksonville survived a five-game losing streak during the regular season and went on to win its last five games to win the division and enter the playoffs as one of the AFC’s hottest and most dangerous teams.
The Chargers are a feared team when they are healthy. WR Keenan Allen missed their first meeting but he has been one of the reasons why they won five of seven before last week’s finale. The status of WR Mike Williams who has a back issue should be monitored. If both play on Saturday, then the Chargers are loaded.
The Chargers carried a four-game winning streak when they faced the Denver Broncos in a meaningless game last week. Denver prevailed 31-28 but despite that, the Chargers head to his contest on a roll. However, they will be facing a Jacksonville team that routed them 38-10 in Week 3.
In that game, the Chargers earned 286 yards through the air but were able to muster only 26 rushing yards on 12 carries. They also turned the ball over twice and were penalized for a total of 57 yards. Justin Herbert threw for 292 passing yards but only had one passing TD. Sony Michel led the rushing attack with a measly 22 yards.
If the Chargers are on a roll heading to Saturday, the Jaguars are red hot with five straight wins to close out their regular season campaign. That streak enabled them to win the division, earn a playoff spot, and have home-field advantage in the wild-card round. In their last game, the Jacksonville defense scored the game-winning TD on a fumble return.
In their first meeting of the season, Jacksonville produced 413 total yards. That included 262 yards through the air and 151 on the ground. The Jaguars’ defense forced two turnovers by the Chargers and complimented their surging offense. Trevor Lawrence threw three TDs and had a total of 262 passing yards.
The Chargers are 8-2 SU in their last 10 games played against the Jaguars. Los Angeles is also 4-1 SU in their last 5 games played in Jacksonville.
Los Angeles Chargers SU trends:
Jacksonville Jaguars SU trends:
The Chargers were pretty much healthy when they faced the Jaguars in Week 3 with only Keenan Allen the only key player hurt that time. However, with Justin Herbert nursing an injured rib, the offense struggled. Joey Bosa also did not play in that game and the Chargers surrendered 38 points to the Jaguars.
Allen is back and since his return, the Chargers won five out of seven games before the no-bearing season finale. If Mike Williams ends up playing, Herbert will have two dangerous weapons that could spell the difference in this game. If not, the Chargers still have the likes of Joshua Palmer and DeAndre Carter who have stepped up with the injuries.
Trevor Lawrence is often in the news, taking plenty of credit for the Jaguars’ renaissance. However, their defense came up big last week against the Tennessee Titans, scoring a touchdown on a fumble return to win the game.
While the Jaguars did not cover the spread in that 20-16 win that decided the division and who goes to the playoffs, it proved that the Jaguars can win big games and that they can do it with their defense. If their defense continues to deliver, Jacksonville should win this.
The Chargers cannot afford to let Lawrence loose again this time. With Bosa playing this game, he and Khalil Mack can be a menace to Lawrence. Los Angeles did not record a sack on Lawrence in Week 3, they need to do better if they want to win this game.
The Jaguars have shown that they can win games whether it’s high-scoring or low-scoring. The team also ended an 18-game road losing streak which is a huge monkey off their backs. The Jacksonville defense held the Chargers to 26 rushing yards the last time out. If they can duplicate that defensive performance, they are in good shape here.
Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars
The Chargers are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games played against the Jaguars. Los Angeles is also 5-0 ATS in their last five meetings in Jacksonville.
Los Angeles Chargers ATS trends:
Jacksonville Jaguars ATS trends:
The Jaguars shocked a lot of teams during the latter part of the season. They will carry the momentum to this game as they have won five in a row. Jacksonville also dominated the L.A. Chargers 38-10 in their only meeting this season.
Since that Week 3 matchup, the Jaguars have improved so much. Trevor Lawrence has played with plenty of motivation and with his ability to move the ball accurately and quickly, has given Travis Etienne and the running game the chance to do their thing. Jacksonville’s secondary also has threats in their secondary which could take advantage of the Chargers’ low-performing rushing attack.
I expect the Jaguars’ defense to force multiple turnovers while Trevor Lawrence will continue to run the offense well.
Prediction: Jaguars +2.5
The total has gone over in 6 out of the last 7 games played between these two teams.
Los Angeles Chargers over/under trends:
Jacksonville Jaguars over/under trends:
These teams combined for 48 points in their Week 3 meeting but both have played with better defense since that blowout game. With so much on the line here, I expect both teams to be more competitive.
Herbert is one of the best passers in the game today, however, he will be facing a defensive unit with four players recording at least three INTs during the regular season. With a high-caliber pass defense, the Chargers will try and run the football to open things up for Herbert. But with the Chargers averaging just 89.6 rushing yards per game, not much offense will come out of it.
Lawrence has played well to close the season but considering he is turnover-prone, I expect the Jaguars to be more cautious and they will do that by letting Etienne and the running game get established. With Jacksonville slowing down the game, this one should end up coming up short of the total.
Prediction: Under 47.5
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