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Chargers vs Jaguars: Week 14 NFL Picks & Game Predictions

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Chargers vs Jaguars: Week 14 NFL Picks & Game Predictions

Two teams mired in seasons of disappointment square-off in Jacksonville. Which team should you make your NFL pick?

LA Chargers (4-8) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8)

Free NFL Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars +3 (+105) at 5Dimes

Quick Switch

At halftime of his 3rd start in Jacksonville, Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles was replaced by backup Gardner Minshew. The team responded and Minshew put some life back into the offense before the Jaguars eventually fell short to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The addition of Foles was supposed to make the defensively sound Jaguars a title contender but inner turmoil leading to the trade of star cornerback Jalen Ramsey has led to the Jaguars returning to be an average NFL defense. As well as losing Ramsey’s exemplary pass coverage, the Jaguars have regressed in run defense and teams are able to establish their running game against them.

One person certain to be happy with the quarterback change is running back Leonard Fournette, who found much more success running behind a Minshew led offense. Minshew being shorter requires him to take more snaps under center, which allows Fournette to get moving forward more. He’s a more traditional running back that prefers a pro-style offense, whereas the shotgun reliant Foles doesn’t allow Fournette to get the momentum necessary for him to be an effective north-south back. With Minshew back, Fournette becomes a more effective weapon in the Jaguars offense, and their running game looks better, leading to a more balanced offensive attack.

More bad news for the Jaguars came this week as linebacker Myles Jack will spend the rest of the season on injured reserve. After losing Ramsey in a trade and now losing their best linebacker in Jack, this Jacksonville defense is not the same unit that lead this team to the AFC championship game 2 years ago. Their major strength is now gone.

A Season of Disappointment

The Chargers entered the season as Super Bowl contenders after making the divisional playoff round last year. Yet, the Chargers always suffer injuries and this year they face something even more troubling: the decline of star quarterback Philip Rivers. Rivers arm strength has observably declined.  No longer are tight spirals coming out of the gun slinging quarterback’s hands. His passes more often resemble the ducks shot in the Nintendo classic “Duck Hunt”. Rivers has strong receivers, can still read a defense, and brings a fiery tenacity to the field but one must question his ability to get the ball down field when it counts at this point of his career.

Melvin Gordon held out to start the season and the Chargers started poorly. By the time Gordon returned it took him a couple weeks to get back in to the superb shape that he ended last season in. Gordon has returned to form but it seems to be a case of “too little too late” for this struggling Chargers team. The Chargers will face an interesting quandary this offseason when deciding whether or not to resign their star running back. Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson filled in admirably for Gordon and while they cannot run in between the tackles as effectively as Gordon, the Chargers will have to decide whether or not Gordon’s larger price tag is worth it.

Verdict 

This Chargers team is in disarray and even with the continued setbacks that the Jacksonville defense is facing, I still believe they are the team in a better position to win on Sunday. Rivers is looking to be a shell of his former self and Minshew brings an energy to this team that cannot be replicated. The Chargers are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games on the road and I think this trend will continue. I expect the Jaguars to play with energy and confidence with their preferred leader Minshew back in the lineup. The Jaguars should roll to a victory over this Chargers team in tatters. The Jaguars will cover the NFL odds of 3 points. My NFL pick is the Jacksonville Jaguars +3.

Free NFL Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars +3 (+105) at 5Dimes