Los Angeles Chargers vs Jacksonville Jaguars (1/14 @ 8:15 PM EST)
Spread: Chargers -1
Money Line: Chargers -115 / Jaguars -105
Overview and Betting Info
The Los Angeles Chargers (10-7) will head to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars (9-8) for the weekend’s first AFC Wild Card Playoff game. The Jaguars won their lone matchup against the Chargers this season with a 38-10 beatdown. The Jags won the AFC South, while the Chargers earned a Wild Card spot out of the AFC West.
The Chargers are 11-5-1 against the spread this season and have covered their last five games. They went over the total six times but have gone under in five of their last six games.
The Jaguars are 8-9 versus the spread and have covered four of their last five games. They have gone over the total eight times but have been under in their last three games.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers’ offense averaged 359.3 yards and 23 points per game this season. Their success has been due to a fantastic season from Justin Herbert, who has 4,739 yards (2nd in NFL) and 25 touchdowns. Those numbers are impressive, especially considering he was with the most injured receiving corps in the league. In his matchup against the Jags, the quarterback threw for 297 yards with a touchdown and interception. He was without Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams left the game after just one catch. We’ll see what kind of damage he can do with his full arsenal of receivers available.
The Chargers’ receiving corps is led by the talented duo of Mike Williams (895 yards, 4 TD) and Keenan Allen (752 yards, 4 TD). Both have been dealt with injuries all season, with Allen missing their first game with the Jags and Williams leaving after just one catch. Williams is questionable after experiencing back spasms last week, but X-rays were negative, so the Chargers believe he will play. Allen has been incredible lately, going for 102 yards and two touchdowns last week. The Chargers have also gotten production from rookie Joshua Palmer (769 yards, 3 TD), who stepped up when Williams and Allen were out with injuries. We’ll be keeping an eye on tight end Gerald Everett (555 yards, 4 TD), who has scored in their last two games.
The Chargers’ backfield is led again by Austin Ekeler, who has rushed for 915 yards and 13 touchdowns. The back is also one of the teams leading receivers with 722 yards and five touchdowns through the air. Ekeler has been a scoring machine, despite a lack of consistency on the ground. The veteran had his worst game on the ground in three years against Seattle, with just 5 rushing yards. When he isn’t on the field, look for Joshua Kelley (287 yards, 2 TD) to get some carries. While he doesn’t see too many snaps, the back averages 4.2 YPC on the year.
The Chargers’ defense allowed 346.1 yards and 22.6 points per game this season. While they started the season as a weakness for this team, they’ve rebounded significantly and are allowing just 15 points per game over their last five. They will be getting better, as Joey Bosa is now back in uniform and earned a sack in his second game last week. He joins Drue Tranquill (146 tackles, 5 sacks, 10 TFL, 1 INT), Khalil Mack (8 sacks, 12 TFL), Morgan Fox (6.5 sacks, 8 TFL), and Kyle Van Noy (5 sacks). We’ll be watching Van Noy in particular, as he has registered a sack in each of their previous five games. In the secondary, the Chargers feature a talented group that includes Derwin James Jr (115 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 INT), Bryce Callahan (3 INT, 6 PD, 1 INT), Asante Samuel Jr (11 PD, 2 INT), and Michael Davis (15 PD, 1 INT). James, in particular, has been a playmaker for this unit and should play a key role on Saturday.
The Jaguars’ offense averaged 357.4 yards and 23.8 points per game. They’ve been led by a breakout season from Trevor Lawrence, who has thrown for 4,113 yards and 25 touchdowns. He’s had a fantastic year, including against the Chargers, where he threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns. That has changed a bit recently, as the quarterback has just one passing touchdown in his last three games. Lawrence can also break out big runs, with 291 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
The Jaguars’ receiving corps is led by Christian Kirk, with 1,108 yards and eight touchdowns. He and Zay Jones (823 yards, 5 TD) played a big part in blowing out the Chargers earlier this season, combining for 157 yards and two touchdowns. They join Evan Engram (766 yards, 4 TD) and Marvin Jones Jr (529 yards, 3 TD) to round out the Jags’ top pass catchers.
The Jacksonville backfield is led by Travis Etienne Jr, who has rushed for 1,125 yards and five touchdowns. The second-year back is also involved in the passing game, with 316 yards through the air. He struggled against the Chargers in their earlier game, with 13 rushes for 45 yards. Etienne is coming off one of his worst games by going for 17 yards on seven rushes against a stout Titans’ run defense. When he’s off the field, look for Jamycal Hasty (Combined for 320 yards, 3 TD on the season) to see some carries. While he doesn’t see much action, the third-year back averages 4.2 YPC.
The defense allowed 353.3 yards and 20.6 points per game this season. While they’ve allowed a lot of yards, primarily thanks to a porous secondary, they’ve still been able to limit scoring. They have been led by linebacker Foyesade Oluokun, who leads the team with 184 tackles to go along with 12 TFLs and two sacks. Their pass rush took a hit a few weeks ago with the loss of Dawuane Smoot (5 sacks, 6 TFLs), but Josh Allen (6 sacks, 11 TFLs, 3 FF) should keep the pressure on. Keep an eye on linebacker Devin Lloyd, who has been active against the pass, with 3 interceptions and eight pass deflections on the year. In the secondary, the Jags have a trio of talented defensive backs in Andre Cisco (3 INT, 10 PD, 1 TD), Rayshawn Jenkins (3 INT, 12 PD, 3 FF, 1 TD), and Tyson Campbell (3 INT, 15 PD). Their play will be critical against one of the better pass attacks in the league.
Free Pick: Chargers -1
The fact that LA won 10 games is astounding, considering their injuries this season. We saw how badly they missed those critical players in their first game against the Jags. Since getting healthy, the Bolts have been near unstoppable. While they lost a meaningless game against the Broncos last week, we’ve seen this team’s capabilities during their four-game win streak that preceded it. The Jags now have a five-game win streak, but those wins were against teams like the Texans and Titans (twice). It was an impressive run, but they will be run out of the stadium by the Chargers on Saturday.
The Jags have struggled to contain opposing passing attacks all season, and they will be facing one of the better ones in the NFL. The Jags’ pass defense will be exposed, with Williams and Allen likely to play. On the other side of the ball, the LA defense has been playing as well as anyone in the league lately. With Bosa back in the lineup, the Bolts should be able to push pressure on the young quarterback and generate a couple of turnovers.
We’re giving up the point to roll with the Chargers on Saturday.