NFL Prediction: Jaguars vs. Chargers Week 2 Picks

Jacksonville Jaguars players celebrating

Jay Pryce

Wednesday, September 14, 2016 9:44 PM UTC

Wednesday, Sep. 14, 2016 9:44 PM UTC

The Chargers are without their star wide receiver Keenan Allen when they host the Jaguars on Sunday afternoon, but it probably won't stop the two from lighting up the scoreboard. Get your free NFL pick with betting preview here.

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1 SU, 1-0 ATS)
The Jaguars are seeking their first divisional title since 1999, and some think they have a legitimate shot in the weak AFC South, despite going 5-11 last season. They certainly looked the part on Sunday, taking MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers and his Super Bowl favorites Green Bay squad to the wire in the opener. Jacksonville fell 27-23 but covered the spread as a 4.5-point pup.

Quarterback Blake Bortles picked up right where he left off from a breakout 2015 campaign with another huge game, completing 24 of 39 passes, 1 touchdown and 1 interception for 320 yards against the Pack. His options seem limitless down the field with wide receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, and tight end Julius Thomas at his disposable.

Running back T.J. Yeldon, who rushed 21 times and scored a touchdown, is likely to get the start again. Jacksonville picked up a paltry 1.8 yards per carry in the opener, the fewest in the league. Depth chart leader Chris Ivory’s status is uncertain after being hospitalized for a “general medical issue” on Sunday. He has since been released, but there is no information regarding his availability.

Defensively, the Jags are yielding 29.6 points per game in their last seven played. The line is full of run stoppers, and will likely rank near the top of the NFL again after boasting a fifth-best 3.7 yards per rush attempt against last season. It needs to ramp up its quarterback pressure (5.64 percent sack percentage in 2015) and improve on its 7.1 opponent yards per pass attempt to cut down on points allowed.

Overall the Jags are 12-57 SU and 21-28 ATS under head coach Gus Bradley.


San Diego Chargers (0-1 SU, 1-0 ATS)
Chargers fans are hoping last weekend was all just a bad dream. The team allowed the largest come-from-behind victory in Kansas City Chiefs history after squandering a 24-3 third-quarter lead to lose 33-27 in overtime. Pouring salt in the wound, the team lost star wide receiver Keenan Allen to a season-ending ACL injury. How the team responds against the Jags may foretell the rest of San Diego’s year.

With Allen out, quarterback Phillip Rivers is left with few options at receiver. Dontrelle Inman, Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams will fill the wide-out positions. Combined they have 14 career touchdowns. Still, the veteran signal-caller will likely buoy their production, particularly against the Jags. Rivers is 5-1 SU with 15 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, and a 116.3 passer rating versus Jacksonville, his highest against any team.

Linebackers Coach Bob Babich spent the 2013-15 seasons as the defensive coordinator in Jacksonville, overlapping with current Jags O-coordinator Greg Olsen for one year. Expect he’ll share much of his knowledge, and the Chargers defense to be prepared scheme-wise. Whether the unit is mentally ready to overcome last Sunday’s epic collapse is another matter.

The OVER was 6-9-1 in San Diego games last season. Five of the ticket-cashers came against teams averaging less than 26 carries per game. The Jags, often trailing in games and forced to go to the air a lot, finished the season averaging 22.1 rushes per contest.


Final Analysis
Our numbers have this contest a coin-flip game with home-field edge going to the Chargers. Normally in this spot, playing the money line on the road dog churns up some long-term value. But the Jags are 4-20 (11-13 ATS) on the road in the Gus Bradley era, and 2-10 on the West Coast as a franchise. That’s hard to stomach if considering a wager on Jacksonville, and enough to shy us away. Moreover, they are just 3-6 ATS when spotted less than a touchdown in away games under Bradley.  

The total may hold the safer play. The OVER is 7-1 in the last eight meetings between these two, and we predict another scoring bonanza. These teams are equals with their better players on the offensive side of the ball. The Jags are good enough to threaten and Rivers eats Cover-3 defenses alive with the pass. Allen’s absence will hurt San Diego's scoring, but not enough. OVER 47 is the NFL Week 2 pick.


Free NFL Picks: Over 47 -105
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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