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Los Angeles Chargers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Prediction, preview, pick to win
Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars play host to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (3-5) AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (5-3)

GAME SNAPSHOT

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KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Everbank Field. TV: CBS, Andrew Catalon, James Lofton.

SERIES HISTORY: 10th regular-season meeting. Chargers lead series, 7-2. The Chargers have won the last six meetings after the Jaguars won two of the first three. Most of the recent games have not been close as the Chargers have won five of the last six by at least 14 points, including three wins by 19 points or more. The teams are meeting for the fourth year in a row. The Jaguars have won two of the five games played in Jacksonville, both by a touchdown or less.

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KEYS TO THE GAME: It's unlikely that Philip Rivers can stay as hot as he has been against the Jaguars. He has heaved 19 touchdown passes against only four interceptions in seven meetings with Jacksonville, and the Chargers would be foolish to question that.

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That said, the Jaguars have the No. 1 pass defense and that doesn't appear to be a position to exploit. But Rivers' receivers are all healthy after the bye and Melvin Gordon could use a lower workload.

Going against a team that is second from the bottom in stopping the run, look for the Jaguars to go back to a heavy dosage of a ground attack. Leonard Fournette has not played for three weeks (injury, bye week, inactive), so he should be fresh and ready to carry the ball 20-25 times. Jacksonville threw the ball a season-high 38 times last week and completed a season-best 24 passes. But, with a healthy Fournette and the strong showings by backups Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon the past two games, the Jaguars may keep running the ball until the Chargers make them go to the air.

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MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

--Jaguars offense vs. Chargers DC Gus Bradley. This matchup will be interesting and could be the deciding factor. Bradley was coach of the Jaguars for almost four years, fired unceremoniously last December with two games left. Bradley knows the Jaguars' offense as well as anyone. That could cause the Jaguars to implement some new looks and different terminology just for this game. Holdovers on the Jaguars' offense will take this game personally and want to come up with their best effort to get the best of their former coach.

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--Chargers RB Melvin Gordon vs. Jaguars DT Marcell Dareus. Gordon deserves every bit of his success, but he gets a huge challenge on Sunday as Dareus joins a line that includes Calais Campbell. Dareus joined the team before last week's game when coming over in a trade with the Bills. The Chargers, who have a rookie at left guard in Dan Feeney and a possible backup at right tackle in Michael Schofield, are going to have to match the intensity of the Jaguars line.

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PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Chargers LB Denzel Perryman. All indications are Perryman is going to make his season debut after being derailed by an ankle injury. Perryman can be a force inside, and the Chargers need help stopping the run. The Chargers will welcome a reliable tackler in the heart of the defense. Too often this season the Chargers' tackling has lacked the technique and hard-nose style that Perryman plays with. The Chargers are not only hoping that Perryman can contribute, but that his knack for sure-handed tackling is contagious.

FAST FACTS: Chargers QB Philip Rivers has passed for nine TDs and two INTs in his past five games. In his past five games vs. Jacksonville, he has completed 74.4 percent of his passes for 1,476 yards (295.2 per game), 15 TDs and no interceptions. ... RB Melvin Gordon rushed for 132 yards, including an 87-yard TD, in Week 8. His 113 first-half yards were the most in a half in his career. He has 130-plus scrimmage yards and a TD in three of the past four games. ... WR Keenan Allen had 10 catches for 135 yards in his last meeting with the Jags (2014). He has five games with 10 catches and 120 yards since 2014, tied for third most in the NFL. ... DE Joey Bosa had a sack in Week 8. He has 19 sacks in 20 career games, most by a player in the first 20 games of his career since 1982. ... DE Melvin Ingram had two sacks and a forced fumble in his last meeting with the Jaguars. He has 27 sacks since 2015, fifth most in the NFL. ... Every game the Jaguars have won this season has been by at least 16 points. Their average margin of victory of 24.6 points is the largest in the NFL. ... Jaguars QB Blake Bortles has 589 passing yards (294.5 per game) in his past two games. It was Bortles' third consecutive game with a completion percent of at least 60 percent. He passed for 329 yards and two TDs in his last meeting with the Chargers. ... Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette is aiming for his fourth game in a row with 130-plus scrimmage yards. He leads the AFC with six rushing TDs and ranks third with 596 rushing yards. ... Jaguars TE Marcedes Lewis had a TD catch in his last game vs. the Chargers. He ranks third among AFC TEs with four TD catches. ... The Jaguars lead the NFL with 35 sacks. DE Calais Campbell had a sack last week and is aiming for his fourth game in a row with a sack. He leads the NFL with career-high 11 sacks. ... Jaguars DE Dante Fowler Jr. had two sacks in his last meeting with San Diego.

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PREDICTION: Rivers has made a living off the Jaguars, but that ends this time around because this is not the same Jacksonville defense.

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OUR PICK: Jaguars, 23-17.

--Ellen Port

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