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Jacksonville Jaguars vs. San Diego Chargers Point Spread - Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS) vs. San Diego Chargers (0-1 SU, 1-0 ATS)
NFL Week 2
Date/Time: Sunday, September 18, 2016 at 4:25PM EST
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
TV: CBS
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com

Point Spread: JAC +3/SD -3
Over/Under Total: 48

The Jacksonville Jaguars make the trip out west to face the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in one of Sunday’s late games.

The Jaguars and Chargers both lost in week one, though in very different ways. The Jaguars opened at home and kept pace with the Packers before losing, 27-23. The Chargers lost 33-27 to the Chiefs in OT, but that hardly tells the story. They blew a gigantic lead to lose in the most disheartening way possible. As if that weren’t enough, Philip Rivers’ favorite target Keenan Allen tore his ACL and was lost for the season.

For a long-suffering team like the Jags to lose in competitive fashion to a good team like the Packers could be taken as a positive development. They never trailed by more than a score and kept Green Bay from getting into stride offensively, holding the Packers to less than 300 yards of total offense, which qualifies as a success. The offense still was a bit lukewarm, despite what looks to be an aerial attack that should be more potent. They were 4-for-15 on third downs and still need to have their offensive firepower manifest into actual points—a problem they’ve consistently faced in the Blake Bortles era.

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Bortles was good statistically with 320 yards on 24-for-39 passing. He made connections with his 1-2 receiver combo Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, with TE Julius Thomas showing signs that he’s going to be a more-consistent contributor to this offense with  TD grab and some key receptions. There were troubling developments before the game, with a general medical issue forcing first-year Jaguars running back Chris Ivory to the hospital. TJ Yeldon was unable to get the running game rolling, despite a TD run. Maybe Ivory can get back into action and give them a better run-game.

Even in week one, we saw drives just sort of die a quiet death with Jacksonville. With their aerial talent and differently-skilled players on offense, there seems to be a strange disconnect between potential and actualization. There’s a disconnect between offensive production and hitting the scoreboard with some points. And until that’s addressed thoroughly, they might always be hounded by a stubborn case of mediocrity.

Let’s give credit, however, to a Jacksonville defense that looked better on Sunday. They were an asset and not a hindrance to the team effort. They kept Green Bay from getting untracked in the run-game, while holding the Packers to just a pair of field goals in the final half of play. It didn’t look good at the beginning, with Rodgers hitting his targets for scores and running one in himself. But they did what they were supposed to do—they tightened up late and set the stage beautifully if only the offense would have cooperated.

Still, anything the Jags did wrong in week one will pale in comparison to what was as tough and damaging a loss as a team could have in San Diego’s overtime defeat. The Chargers took command of the game. The inside-cutting aerial attack was making the KC secondary look like dogmeat. After not scoring all last season on the ground, Melvin Gordon ran in for two scores. The pass-rush had the Chiefs’ offense in knots and the secondary was giving up very little through the air. Late in the third, it was 24-3 San Diego and it looked all but locked up.

Even a casual follower of the Chargers will attest that success usually begets failure with this team. And when things go south, they almost always head straight into the abyss. Mike McCoy, like some SD head coaches before him, has a strange way of dealing with a lead, getting away from the things that led to that lead in the first place. An overly-conservative approach usually yields the exact results it was designed to avoid. Before you knew it, the Chiefs were making their inevitable push and there was nothing the Chargers could do to stop it. A defense that looked vastly-improved suddenly couldn’t manufacture a single positive development. Even as KC improbably came back, before taking the first drive in OT for a game-winning TD, there was a certain predictability to it all. But despite all of that, those who took the Chargers were able to cash a ticket, with San Diego actually covering the spread.

The loss of Allen is a real dagger. He is Philip Rivers’ favorite target and was electric before he suffered the knee injury. Without him, they still have a lot of firepower. Gordon scoring two touchdowns was a good development, though they went away from him, as Danny Woodhead led the way with 89 yards on the ground. The versatile little fireplug also added 5 catches, including one for a TD. The presence of JJ’s brother and former Gordon college teammate FB Derek Watt seemed to give the run-game a little extra bite. Newly-acquired receiver Travis Benjamin had 7 catches. Tyrell Williams had 71 yards receiving. Another source of promise was the line, which looked vastly better and will continue that trajectory if they can stay healthy.

With the SD defense, it was a tale of two games. For nearly three quarters, they were dong almost everything right. The line, led by Corey Liuget, Jerry Attaochu, and Brandon Mebane were all over Smith and the backs, forcing a slew of negative plays and long third down situations. In the middle, Manti Te’o and Melvin Ingram were solid, while Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers looked like the best corner tandem the Bolts had in quite some time, Before you knew it, it all melted away. And for however good or bad a defense is, it’s crucial to have a “D” that can turn things around a bit when things go sour. In other words, how good can a defense be if it’s just a matter of time before they blow it? This group had a chance to make any number of big plays, any of which could have given the team the win. It never happened.

Losing the way San Diego did and now without their most valuable aerial weapon, it’s hard to turn around and get it together for the next week. But opening at home and with some hopes this season, the Chargers are facing some urgency and if they can’t beat the Jags at home, where do they go from here? It’s a critical game and I picture the Chargers’ offense getting a tiny bit of separation late for the win and cover. But with the Chargers, you can only be so confident.

Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the San Diego Chargers minus 3 points.

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