Monday Night NFL Picks: San Diego Chargers @ Jacksonville Jaguars Monday Night NFL Week 14 Vegas Odds, Free Picks, and Expert Predictions on ESPN 12/5/11: It isn’t exactly a marquee matchup, but the San Diego Chargers (4-7) and Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8) will meet Monday night. The Jaguars have struggled most of the year and fired long-time coach Jack Del Rio earlier in the week. Meanwhile six straight losses have sent the Chargers from first to worst in the AFC West and have Norv Turner likely on the way out as coach. Both teams are already looking towards next season, but the Monday night stage is always a nice motivating factor. As they break in a new coach, Jacksonville is a three-point underdog at home.
While both teams have been equally bad on the field, they couldn’t be more different offensively. The Chargers have a pass-first attack that ranks fifth in the NFL in passing yards. Meanwhile, the Jaguars rank dead last in terms of passing yards and lean heavily on the running game. Neither team is an offensive juggernaut, but while San Diego ranks in the middle of the pack in terms of points scored, Jacksonville ranks dead last at just 12.5 per contest.
For the Chargers, the key to victory will be stopping Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew. He leads the AFC with 1,040 rushing yards, and the San Diego defense ranks outside the top 20 in terms of stopping the run. That being said, there is a difference in allowing rushing yards and allowing rushing touchdowns. Despite the yardage he has piled up, Jones-Drew has managed just five touchdowns. Teams stack the box in the red zone, forcing the Jaguars’ rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert to beat them. Gabbert has been unable to deliver thus far and is completing just 48.5 percent of his passes. San Diego will likely follow the same formula Monday night.
Although the Jacksonville offense has been terrible when it comes to putting points on the board, the conservative approach has helped the Jaguars win the time of possession battle and keep their defense fresh. In fact, Jacksonville ranks fifth in the NFL in terms of points allowed, giving up just 18.2 per contest. On the downside, the unit hasn’t been great at forcing turnovers or pressuring opposing quarterbacks. If the Jaguars are going to win, the defense is going to have to carry the load. The offense needs a short field to be effective, which means the defense will have to make some big plays.
The X-factor in the game will likely be San Diego QB Philip Rivers. After reaching elite status at the position in recent years, Rivers has regressed this season. He has thrown an abysmal 17 interceptions and has lost six fumbles as well. As long as he is averaging more than two turnovers per game, the Chargers are going to continue to struggle winning games. If he can limit his mistakes, San Diego’s talent on offense should give the Chargers the edge. After all, this team does have tight end Antonio Gates, receiver Vincent Jackson and running back Ryan Matthews.
As bad as the Chargers have been during their six-game losing streak, they are still the same team that started the year 4-1 and lost to the undefeated Green Bay Packers by just seven points. The Jaguars just don’t have enough weapons on offense or an opportunistic defense that can take advantage of the turnover prone Rivers. It will likely be a result of what Jacksonville can’t do more than what the San Diego can do, but the Chargers should still come away with a road win in this one.
Prediction: San Diego Chargers (-3) Cover the Spread
Free NFL Football Picks and Predictions: San Diego -3
|Week 13 NFL Football: San Diego Chargers @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Time: 8:35 PM EST on ESPN
Vegas Odds – Favorite: San Diego -3 Total: Over/Under 38.5
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