San Diego Chargers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Preview and Pick

San Diego Chargers (5-4) +3, 40.5 O/U at Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3) -3, Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, 1pm Sunday
by The Crazy Snake of

Are we going to get caught up in the Charger’s 23-21 win over Indianapolis and declare them back to last season’s best? Having won 5 of their past 6 games, we could be forgiven for getting lost in the euphoria of an apparent resurgence. Can we be objective for one moment and see that victory for what it really was?

Any team that wins the turnover count 6-3, including 6 picks of one of the game’s top two quarterbacks EVER (and yes I stand by that statement through any argument) and has to hang on for grim death in the final minute hasn’t got a hell of a lot going for it. Add to that the fact that the Chargers scored 14 of their 23 point total on the back of a Darren Sproles opening kickoff return and a first quarter punt return and you realize this team has scored a grand total of 7 points after quarter time, given they also scored a first quarter field goal. Antonio Cromartie’s 3 picks, including a one-hander in the second quarter that had to be seen to be believed, were all class. Indianapolis’ end zone interception by Clint Session that was blown dead for a touchback instead of what would have been a pick 6 was pivotal, and the official with the loose lips should need to go and find himself another job.

But let’s be honest. For all that comic book fantasy football wasn’t it just great fun to watch! I mean, Mr Automatic misses TWO FG’s in ONE game??? One for the lead inside the two minute warning from 29 yards out!!! Somebody’s yanking our chain, right? This game was surely scripted by a pro wrestling script writer with too much time on his hands. It had to be. Let’s boil it down. 4 things that never happen in any NFL football game: Peyton Manning throws 6 interceptions, Adam Vinatieri misses 2 field goals, one guy returns a kickoff and a punt in the same game (last guy to do it was Dante Hall in 2002) and an official blows a play dead when the ball never actually touches the ground. And all of this occurs in driving rain. It’s a conspiracy to improve TV ratings!

Meanwhile, the Jacksonville Jaguars were putting on the NFL equivalent of meat and potatoes in their 28-13 win over the overrated Titans. Though Quinn Gray only passed for 101 yards and one TD, he didn’t turn the ball over, something which his counterpart, Vince Young, managed to do 3 times, twice through the air and once whilst doing his typical Michael Vick impersonation. Madden 2008 cover. Pfffff!

And so to match up. Meat and potatoes versus braised yak tails drizzled in port wine jus. Meat and potatoes gets back David “Gravy” Garrard this week, and though Quinn Gray has looked more solid in the past couple of weeks, the addition of Garrard to the offense bodes well, even if he is potentially a little rusty. The Jag’s twin RB attack of the oft unheralded Fred Taylor and the diminutive but exceptional Maurice Jones-Drew will add strong support to a Garrard led attack wary of the intercepting threat of Antonio Cromartie and the same San Diego pass coverage fleet that made Peyton Manning look like anything but the icon he has become.

The NFL stats rankings probably don’t do justice to the solidity of the Jaguar’s rush defense which has allowed an average marginally above 4.0 yards per rush this season. Against one of the NFL’s top backs in LaDainian Tomlinson, that defense is likely to be sorely tested. LT will join Fred Taylor in the 10,000 yard club if he can exploit Jacksonville for 91 yards this week. Jacksonville will be conscious of LT and should they find themselves able to shut him down, they should win. San Diego looked offensively inept against the Colts, managing only 177 yards of total offense. Despite winning 5 of their last 6 games, they have looked anything but the consistent scoring machine of last season. Even LT is well off the pace of last season’s NFL record 28 rushing TD’s, with only 8 to this point.

The road team takes a 3 point handicap into this game with the sportsbooks, which given last week’s result is a prophetic line indeed. Personally, I would like to see SD either show us they have arrived or prove to me what I already know. I expect Jacksonville to show them up here and do it convincingly. There’ll be no 6 interceptions on offer this week. Let’s see if the Chargers can get it done on a turnover count at parity. I doubt it.

The Snake’s Bite: Jacksonville deserves favoritism in this game and I am pretty keen on giving up the 3 points here. Take Jacksonville to cover the 3 with confidence.