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Chargers at early crossroads


The Jaguars will be facing a Chargers team with its back against the wall on Sunday, and those fans that will be in attendance may be running out of patience for their team.

"We just didn't play well enough to win the game," San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers said of the Chargers' 21-14 loss in Kansas City on Monday night. It's a loss that starts this season the same way the Chargers ended last season, with a head-scratching defeat.

The Chargers have been ticketed for the Super Bowl since before the team lost Drew Brees in free agency, yet, each season ends in disappointment, just as last year's did when the Chargers were upset at home in the playoffs by the wild-card Jets.

Again, they are the preseason pick to win the AFC West, but they are not the overwhelming favorite that they have been in past years, largely the result of the team not coming to contract terms with stars Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill. That and the team's loss in the playoffs and its loss in Kansas City have conspired to cause the first TV blackout in six years in San Diego.

The Chargers are facing somewhat of a crossroads game in their home-opener against the Jaguars this Sunday. Should the Chargers lose this one, the situation could turn ugly. Norv Turner and his team desperately need a win.

Meanwhile, the Jaguars will be flying high to the West Coast, following one of the feel-good wins in franchise history, a 24-17 victory over visiting Denver last Sunday. With an upset win in San Diego, the Jaguars would be well on their way to the fast start they seek.

"We were very young and inexperienced last year," running back Maurice Jones-Drew said in attempting to explain the team's poor performance on the West Coast last season. "The big difference is everybody is a year older and more mature."

There are other differences, such as the additions of Aaron Kampman and Tyson Alualu to the Jaguars defensive line. Kampman and Alualu gave the Jaguars a pass-rush against Denver the team didn't have at any time last season.

"I remember him in Green Bay; high energy, relentless rusher. He obviously adds a spark to that defense," Rivers said of Kampman. "They're playing super fast and super aggressive and they obviously got off to a win and we're going to have to play well to beat them."

The Chargers have one of the top passing games in the league and they'll undoubtedly try to press their advantage against a Jaguars pass-defense that is struggling. Cornerback Derek Cox lost confidence against Denver and was benched late in the game. Coach Jack Del Rio said Cox will be back in the starting lineup on Sunday.

"We have to go to the West Coast and show up," cornerback Rashean Mathis said. "We just need to have a good showing. How we played last year doesn't affect how we play this year."

"There are things that can be in the mind," Kampman said of a possible West Coast hangover. "The reality is we have a great plan. We'll install it and go forward."

Win or lose, the Jaguars will come home for two games that will determine whether the team starts fast. The Chargers, on the other hand, need to win on Sunday or risk falling behind early.

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