This week’s Monday Night Football match-up features two teams looking to end their lengthy losing streaks. The Jaguars entered this season a young squad looking for signs that their franchise was finally heading on an upward trend. Though after 12 games it’s been anything but that, as head coach Jack Del Rio was fired last week and Jacksonville will play their first game under new boss Mel Tucker. Quarterback and first-round pick Blaine Gabbert has been wildly inconsistent this season, and for the Jags to emerge victorious in this contest they will require a steady dose of Maurice Jones-Drew to break down a very soft San Diego rush defense. Their defense has been stellar all season long, but may be forced to be without some key players in the secondary as Rasheed Mathis and Derek Cox are both expected be out of the line-up.
As is usually the case, San Diego entered this season once again contenders for the Super Bowl, but to say things have gone awry, would be a vast understatement. Honing their trade in the very weak AFC West division, the Chargers are getting embarrassed by their rivals, and will look to shed their longest losing streak in a decade. The problems begin with franchise quarterback Philip Rivers who has thrown a league-high 17 interceptions, and has struggled mightily to get on the victorious side of many close games. Though they enter this contest mostly healthy, they are a broken and fragile squad, well aware that they will not be making the post-season. How they respond is anybody’s guess.
Chargers vs. Jaguars Spread, Line, and Betting Odds:
San Diego Chargers -3 (-120)
@ Jacksonville Jaguars +3 (+100)
Over 39.5 (-110)
Under 39.5 (-110)
Chargers vs. Jaguars Pick:
Similar to our Thursday Night Football game of this past week featuring the Eagles and Seahawks, I see this match-up playing out in similar fashion. The Chargers are simply a defeated squad, with this season not going the way they had hoped. San Diego is merely looking to play out the remainder of this season and no doubt await the mass changes which will take place in the off-season.
The Jaguars meanwhile will be playing under a new coach looking to make new impressions and play for their jobs for the final few months. One main advantage for Jacksonville will be their stout defense which has looked solid all season long. When the offense has faltered and been stagnant, the defense has stepped up and allowed them to stay close in most games. Playing at home under the Monday Night Lights is a familiar concept to Jacksonville who earlier in the season defeated Baltimore in front of their home faithful as double-digit underdogs.
Look for Jacksonville to show up, and the Chargers to continue their season in disarray. The one strength of this San Diego team is their passing attack which can be lethal when Philip Rivers and Vincent Jackson are engaged. However, Jacksonville has the 4th ranked pass-defense and should force San Diego to switch to their ground game.
Jacksonville knows and will rush the football at every opportunity on every down against San Diego. Maurice Jones-Drew remains an elite runner out of the backfield and should be able to find holes and have a big game on the ground. Jacksonville is 3-1 when they rush for over 130 yards, and MJD should have no issue surpassing that total against this porous run defense. Look for the Jags to overcome the glaring talent disparity, and outwork their opponents Monday Night, and get a win for their new sideline boss Mel Tucker.
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