The wild-card Los Angeles Chargers (10-7) visit the AFC South champion Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8) Saturday evening. It’s a rematch of this past Sept. 25th, when the Jags stomped the Bolts, 38-10, in Inglewood. LA is a razor-thin, one-point favorite (total at 47½), according to BetUS sportsbook NFL odds.
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Odds by BetUs
|Chargers||-1 (-110)||47½ (-110)||-115|
|Jaguars||+1 (-110)||47½ (-110)||-105|
Chargers’ Rare Air
Quarterback Justin Herbert had some skeptics coming out of Oregon, but silenced any doubters in his first three seasons in SoCal. He is leading the Chargers to their first playoff appearance since 2018, and second since the San Diego days of 2013.
Stats weren’t as good as last season, but considering Herbert was without some of his best receivers much of the season, 4,739 yards (25 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 68.2% completion percentage) was quite good. How about 98 touchdowns in his first three seasons as a pro?
Herbert and the Chargers ranked 13th in scoring (23 points per game), ninth in total offense (359.3 yards/game). They were third in passing (269.6 yards/game), but just 30th in rushing (89.6 yards/game). LA was a fairly one-dimensional outfit.
LA surrendered 22.6 points and 346.1 yards per game.
Again, these stats need something as an asterisk, as a number of key personnel (see wide receiver Mike Williams is and edge rusher Joey Bosa) had injury-plagued seasons. Williams (back) is questionable ahead of Saturday’s game.
The Chargers were one of the best friends of the bettor, a very proficient 11-5-1 against the spread (ATS) during the season 7-10 on over/under. They were 5-4 on the road overall, 7-2 ATS (4-1 as road favorites).
Jaguars’ Improbable Title
The Jacksonville Jaguars won five straight games (six of their last seven) to secure the AFC South, reviving themselves after being down four games in the standings. They hadn’t been to the postseason since 2017. In a win-and-in Week 18 game against the Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville used a late defensive touchdown to prevail by a score of 20-16. It was a remarkable turnaround engineered by first-season coach Doug Pederson after the 2021 squad (the fiasco of Urban Meyer finished 3-14.
Pederson, a former Super Bowl-winning coach in Philadelphia, oversaw a Jags’ team which was 10th in both scoring (23.8 points per game) and total offense (357.4 yards/game) this season.
They were well-balanced, having ended 10th in passing (232.9 yards/game) and 14th in rushing (124.5 yards/game). They finished 12th defensively, having limited teams to (20.6 points per game). However, porous against the pass (238.5 yards/game), so the Bolts’ game plan is not mysterious.
What has aided the cause were 26 takeaways, ranking fifth in the league.
Of course, when one mentions the Jaguars, quarterback Trevor Lawrence (4,113 yards, 25 touchdowns, eight interceptions) is the point of emphasis. The second-season former first overall selection was merely adequate (593 yards, one touchdown, one interception) over the last three games, that after a four-touchdown effort in an overtime win against the Dallas Cowboys in mid-December. Lawrence has been hampered by a Week 13 injured toe. but hasn’t been sidelined. Speedy returner/wide receiver Jamel Agnew (shoulder) also made the injury report. Even the kicker, Riley Patterson (knee) was not immune.
Jacksonville was 8-8-1 against the spread, 8-9 on over/under. It had a 5-2 home record overall, 4-0 as home ‘dogs (with each spread 6½ or fewer points).
Chargers Get Revenge
If you’re a risk taker in this regard, LA is 20-1 (+2000) to win the title, Jacksonville 40-1 (+4000), as per Super Bowl odds.
Lawrence is getting there in terms of being an elite quarterback in the league, but not as of yet. Working through an aforementioned injured toe, just merely efficient down the stretch as the Jacksonville defense came to the fore. Running back Travis Ettiene (1,125 yards, five touchdowns) needs a big cause if the Jags are to advance.
Lawrence was flawless in the first meeting with ‘LA (262 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions) as Jacksonville dominated. Hot as this team is at the moment, repeating thar recipe is not easy.
The Los Angeles Chargers are 5-0 against the spread in their last five visits to Jacksonville, 9-1 ATS in the previous 10 meetings (the loss earlier this season). Take the Bolts minus the point.