Chargers at Jags: Keys to Victory

What both teams need to do to win in Jacksonville

For about a decade the Chargers could put an automatic W on their ledger if they saw the Jaguars on the schedule. Bolts quarterback Philip Rivers is 6-1 in his career against the Jags and over the last six seasons he’s gone 5-0 with 15 touchdowns and no picks.

But times … they are a-changin’.

Now the Jaguars have the better record and a legitimate post-season shot while the Chargers continue to be the most talented losing team in football. Fernando Ramirez takes a look at what the Bolts need to do to get their fourth win while Derek Togerson examines ways the Jags can stay atop the AFC South.

Chargers Key #1: Stop The Jags From Running

The Jags drafted Leonard Fournette to do what he has been doing, making a difference. Fournette has been trucking players and taking off for huge runs. Besides Fournette the Jags have two other backs that can be game changers also in Chris Ivory and T.J Yeldon. The three backs have rushed for 1,038 yards and eight touchdowns. The Chargers are giving up 130 rushing yards per game, but they have thumping linebacker Denzel Perryman back after him missing eight weeks with an ankle injury. The Chargers will need to stay disciplined and swarm the football. The defense is in the top three in missed tackles and they can’t have that continue if they hope to stop the backs from going crazy on Sunday.

Jags Key #1: Release The Hounds

Jacksonville is on a pace to get 70 sacks this year. That’s a lot. The NFL single-season record is 72 set by the 1984 Chicago Bears, the era when the Bears boasted one of the most devastating defenses of all time. This group gets after passers and Rivers is not exactly fleet of foot. The Chargers offensive line has been surprisingly much better than expected in pass protection but the last time they faced an elite pass rush, against the Broncos, Rivers was dropped three times in 29 dropbacks. The Jags have the ability to get to Rivers and they’re going to have to do that a lot to keep control of the game.

Chargers Key #2: Make Blake Bortles Beat You

The Jaguars drafted quarterback Blake Bortles in 2014 and was deemed the next Ben Roethlisberger, but he has been anything but that. Bortles is having a better season than his first three, but he is prone to mistakes.  Bortles has thrown 56 interceptions in his young career and two of them came from cornerback casey Hayward last season. The Chargers secondary can’t keep dropping easy interceptions the way they have so far this season. Three of his offensive lineman are questionable to play in Sunday’s game and if they don’t Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram will have a free run at him all day. The defense must get after Bortles for them to have a chance to come back with a win.

Jags Key #2: Stay On The Field

This is fairly straightforward. The Jaguars have the 9th-best 3rd down offense in the NFL but recently they’ve been really good at sustaining drives. In their last three games Jacksonville is converting at a 51% clip in that situation. On the other side the Bolts defense is 8th-worst in the league when it comes to getting off the field on 3rd down. If Jacksonville can keep Blake Bortles from reverting to the turnover machine he has had a tendency to be and extend drives they’ll get out with a win.

Chargers Key #3: Change It Up And Don’t Make Mistakes

The Chargers offense has been predictable at times with their formations. Now I am not saying they should bring back their “wild cat” stuff they pulled against the Patriots, but they should consider putting Keenan in the slot more often or try to run more three tight end sets with newly signed tight end Jeff Cumberland. Last weekend versus the Bengals, Jags cornerback Jalen Ramsey got in receivers AJ Green head and they got into a fistfight. The Chargers can’t fall for that stuff and need to keep a level mind. Coach Anthony Lynn he wasn’t worried about his team falling for that because they all are level headed. The Chargers offensive line will need to protect their quarterback from the best defense and pass rush in the NFL. Calais Campbell has 11 sacks this season and the team will need to slow him down. Quarterback Philip Rivers needs to protect the football as well. He has only thrown two interceptions in the last four games and he will need to continue that if the Chargers have any chance of winning this game.

Jags Key #3: Ram it Down Their Throat

Jacksonville has the league’s most prolific rushing attack. The Chargers are the 2nd-worst rushing defense in pro football. Remember the end of the game against the Eagles? When Philly was trying to run the clock so they ran the ball play after play after play and the Bolts KNEW they were going to do that yet they were powerless to stop it? That’s what the Jags can do. Forget about getting cute on offense. Run the ball 50 times, control the clock, don’t turn it over, and pound the Chargers into submission.

Fernando’s Prediction: Chargers 17 Jaguars 14. This game will be a defensive game that will come down to the quarterback and which one is better? Philip Rivers.

Derek’s Prediction: Jaguars 9, Chargers 4. Jacksonville has allowed 10 points the last 10 quarters. That point-a-quarter pace continues because Bosa and Ingram will each get a safety while the Jags defense pitches a shutout.

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