JACKSONVILLE – Each Saturday during the 2017 season, eight Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton and J.P. Shadrick – will break down the following day's Jaguars matchup.
Up this week:
The Los Angeles Chargers at EverBank Field in Jacksonville.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if:They run the ball. Jacksonville is the best running team in the NFL and the Chargers are one of the worst teams defending the run. Jaguars rookie running back Leonard Fournette should have an enormous game; I believe he will rush for more than 150 yards in his return.
The Chargers will win if:Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers works his magic. Yes, the Jags lead the NFL in sacks and have the best secondary in football, but Rivers has owned them in the past. He once again has plenty of weapons around him.
As Ballou sees it:Jaguars win, 21-10. The Jacksonville offensive line will meet the challenge against the talented Chargers pass rushers and Fournette will lead Jacksonville to consecutive wins at home.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if:If they can harass Rivers. He often has had his way with them, but he never has faced a Jaguars defense like this one. As good as he has been, he tends to make mistakes when pressured – and the Jags are the league's best this season at bringing pressure. The Jags have to start fast – like always – but stopping Rivers is the key.
The Chargers will win if:They protect Rivers and keep the game close into the second half – particularly if they can get a mid-second-half lead. The Jags aren't built to come from behind and haven't won this year when in that position.
As Frangie sees it:The Jags are better and will keep the train moving. I think it will be very tough for Rivers to generate much against this defense. If Jacksonville can get to 17 or 20 points, the Jaguars will win.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: They run the ball effectively with a running back (Fournette) that should be highly motivated after being inactive for violating team rules a week ago. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram's strengths as pass rushers for the Chargers can be negated by this.
The Chargers will win if: Rivers plays at a very high level as he has done in the teams' last six meetings. Chargers running back Melvin Gordon is more than capable of helping Rivers accomplish this by running the ball effectively, keeping manageable situations for Rivers.
As Lageman sees it:Rivers is not facing the Jaguars defense from the last six meetings. EverBank Field will be full of electricity and will power the Jaguars' run game to new levels. This will be a close one that the Jaguars win in the end.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if:Rivers doesn't play … just kidding. Hey, this is simple: Slow Rivers down, and the Jaguars will have a great chance to win. It's hard to imagine that even this defense will stop Rivers completely.
The Chargers will win if:They can stop the run and make Blake Bortles look like last year's Blake Bortles. The last two games have been a resurgence for the Jaguars' embattled quarterback while Fournette has been out. Bortles has not thrown an interception in almost a month and former Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley's Chargers defense will try to change that Sunday.
As Martineau sees it:I think the Jaguars are about to get on a roll. It kind of feels like they already are on a streak, but it has been just two games. This could be a November to remember for the Jaguars and it should continue with a victory over the Chargers on Sunday.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if:They sack Rivers three times and intercept him twice. The latter is a tall order – Rivers hasn't thrown an interception against the Jaguars since 2011 – but it's critical. The Chargers' defense is very good and points will be at a premium for the Jaguars Sunday. They likely will need the defense to score – or at least set up a score.
The Chargers will win if: They can stop the Jaguars' running game, and pressure Bortles. The Jaguars' offense has controlled their last two victories – over Indianapolis and Cincinnati – but the Chargers have one of the NFL's best pass rushes. If the Jaguars get into too many obvious passing situations against Bosa and Ingram, turnovers and trouble could follow.
As Oehser sees it:The Jaguars should win this game, but this is in no way an easy matchup. The Chargers have won three of four games after an 0-4 start, and the combination of Rivers and an underrated defense makes Los Angeles very dangerous. Points will be at a premium; the game could be decided by the defense that can force a fourth-quarter turnover.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if:They can keep the pressure from getting to Bortles. Bosa and Ingram are the best one-two pass-rushing tandem in the league this season with 8.5 sacks each. The offensive game plan must keep these guys from either sacking Bortles or making him make bad decisions, the latter of which he largely has avoided this year. You must score to beat the Bolts, and that isn't happening if Bosa and Ingram are running wild in the backfield.
The Chargers will win if:Rivers continues to look like Tom Brady against the Jaguars. He has passed for 19 touchdowns and only four interceptions in six consecutive victories, and he's done it with teams that were injured and not as talented as the one he has this season. Rarely does Rivers go down, so getting him to move his feet or hold the ball a second longer is almost as effective in limiting his production. The Jaguars have to make him uncomfortable, which is difficult against a 14-year veteran as accomplished as Rivers.
As Sexton sees it:This isn't the same matchup Rivers has exploited in recent years. This is a completely different Jaguars defense that took its game to an entirely different level last week after cornerback Jalen Ramsey was tossed out of the game. The Jags' offensive line has given up 11 sacks. The return of Fournette will be the difference in this one as the Jaguars win their third consecutive game for the first time since 2013.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if:They continue to play offense like they have the last two weeks. It isn't flashy; it sometimes seems simple. But, boy has it been effective the last two weeks … without Fournette. Remember to put No. 27 back in your fantasy lineup this week.
The Chargers will win if:Rivers lights up this Jaguars organization for a seventh consecutive time. Rivers is 6-1 all-time against the Jags, with six consecutive victories. He averages more than 300 yards against the Jags with 19 touchdowns and only four interceptions. If that kind of production continues, it will be a long, frustrating day.
As Shadrick sees it:Momentum is building for the Jags. Fournette is back against a Chargers defense struggling to stop the run. Rivers has a long string of success against the Jags, but he hasn't seen a Jaguars defense like this in a long time. Look for plenty of highlights from Fournette to welcome back Bradley – and plenty of classic Rivers reaction .gifs on Twitter after this game.