JACKSONVILLE – Each Saturday during the 2020 season, nine Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton, J.P. Shadrick and Ashlyn Sullivan – will break down the following day's Jaguars matchup.
Up this week:
The Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They find a pass rush. Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert is outstanding against the blitz; if the Jaguars are going to win on the road, they must confuse Herbert. The Jaguars have only scored 14 first-quarter points this season and haven't scored an opening-drive touchdown in 14 games. If they are going to pull off the upset Sunday, they must score early.
The Chargers will win if: They play their game. They're looking for their first home victory, are coming off a bye and are healthier than they have been in weeks. Despite a four-game losing streak, the Chargers are improving. They should be able to take advantage of Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack being out and have success both running and passing. Their Los Angeles pass rush will force Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II to turn the ball over.
As Ballou sees it: These teams have combined to lose nine consecutive games but have done so differently. Los Angeles has been in every game and is a much better team than the record indicates. The Jaguars continue to be a beaten-up team physically. The Chargers believe they are close to getting things going and it will start Sunday with their first victory in their new stadium – as well as Herbert's first NFL victory.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if: They start fast for the first time this season. This needs to happen for a couple of reasons. First, getting an early lead will give this young team some confidence. Second, it will allow offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to call a balanced game. The Jaguars have been down two scores in the second half of games all year and this team is not made to play catch-up.
The Chargers will win if: They finish what they start. The Chargers have a similarly poor record as the Jaguars, but all their losses have been by less than a touchdown. The Chargers take the lead almost every week and just can't hold on late. If they can get a fast start and force the Jaguars to play from behind, then they will be in good shape.
As Boselli sees it: The Jaguars haven't fared well on the west coast and it's hard for me to see them winning this game, but I am picking them anyway. Quarterback Gardner Minshew II is going to find the magic, the defense is going to harass Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert and the Jaguars will win, 34-31!
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if: They can find some energy and momentum early. Never has starting fast mattered more. A team struggling with confidence and traveling to the West Coast, where they often have not played well, needs something good to happen early. The plan last week was to run, but the Detroit Lions stacked the box. The Jaguars need to hit something down the field to loosen the box. Defensively, they must somehow harass Herbert, who is good but obviously young.
The Chargers will win if: Herbert continues to play as well as he has in recent weeks. And if they finish. They've only won once, but he has had near misses against very good teams. If they get a lead early, it could be tough emotionally for the Jaguars to battle back.
As Frangie sees it: This is another tough game for the Jaguars against a team that is better than its record indicates. It is on the left coast. This one will be tough, but if the Jaguars can have some early success, they have a chance.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: They can improve all three phases of their game. The offense is struggling to find a rhythm and needs early success. The defense has given up lots of points lately and needs takeaways from a rookie quarterback. Special teams must be solid with the return of kicker Josh Lambo.
The Chargers will win if: Herbert is able to play with balance and Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa can disrupt the Jaguars' offensive rhythm. The Chargers have been rushing the ball well to support their young quarterback. Herbert has also been an extremely productive passer against pressures and on third down. Those are two areas that usually take time to have success.
As Lageman sees it: This is a tough road for a Jaguars team that historically has not had much success on the West Coast. The Chargers are coming off a bye rested, ready and feeling great about their young quarterback. The familiarity of the defensive coordinators (Gus Bradley of the Chargers and Todd Wash of the Jaguars) makes this an interesting chess match. One team will end its skid as these teams have a combined nine consecutive losses.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if: Minshew outplays Herbert. The Jaguars need their quarterback to play better and need to force the rookie on the other side into some mistakes. It's a quarterback league and this game is simple: The better quarterback on Sunday gets the victory.
The Chargers will win if: They make the Jaguars one-dimensional. The Jaguars continue to say they are trying to run, but they really are not running. Whether it's play calls, the scoreboard or defenses dictating action that has prevented it in recent weeks … the Jaguars must get the ball to rookie running back James Robinson. The Chargers know that and will try to shut that down – and keep Minshew in the pocket. If they do that, they win.
As Martineau sees it: The Chargers seem like a much better one-victory team than the Jaguars. There's no momentum in Jacksonville and there are good feelings in Los Angeles about Herbert. I think the Chargers win this game, 27-23.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: They get better quarterback play and stop the run. Minshew has struggled in recent weeks and must make throws downfield to get the wide receivers involved and get the Chargers' defense out of the box. The Jaguars have struggled against the run in two of the last three games. Pressuring Herbert is key, but they can't win playing poor run defense.
The Chargers will win if: Herbert can protect the ball. The rookie has big arm talent, and the Chargers believe he's the quarterback of the future. They're right, but he also is capable of rookie mistakes. The Jaguars must force those mistakes to have a chance.
As Oehser sees it: This is a tough matchup for the Jaguars. The Chargers are better than their 1-4 record and have played good teams close. The Jaguars have many questions and it's historically difficult for them to find answers on the West Coast.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if: They run 30 times. NFL teams win more than 90 percent of games when they hit that milestone. The Jaguars haven't hit the 30-rushing-attempt mark this season and have averaged only 20 rushes a game in five consecutive losses. It's another way of saying they can't fall behind early and put all the pressure on the passing game and the defense; neither is good enough to win on its own.
The Chargers will win if: They make the Jaguars one-dimensional. The Jaguars have averaged 89 yards rushing in five consecutive losses, but they rushed for 165 yards against the Titans. In their last four games, they've averaged only 70 yards on the ground and the result has been predictable. If the Chargers can make the passing game beat them, they'll win.
As Sexton sees it: The Jaguars are in a tough spot right now. Their opponents are focusing on taking away the run and making Minshew throw 40 times or more to beat them. That isn't the Jaguars' formula for winning. Add in a trip to the West Coast to face a team coming off its bye week and it looks as if the flight home will be a long one. I see the Chargers winning this one.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if: They play mistake-free football. This isn't just turnovers, but also includes avoiding penalties in key moments, making big-time throws and catches in the clutch and winning one-on-one matchups on both offense and defense. The margin for error is smaller than razor-thin for this team right now.
The Chargers will win if: They get an early lead and put the Jaguars into predictable offensive situations. A 14-0 deficit out the gate is no way to go about week-to-week NFL business, as we know firsthand.
As Shadrick sees it: Every matchup will be tough from here on out for the Jaguars, but the flight is still scheduled for Saturday and the Los Angeles-area hotel is still booked. Go play the game and see what happens while a young Jaguars team continues to gain experience. The Jaguars need a few takeaways from the defense, a couple of big special-teams plays and a near-flawless offensive performance off those short fields to get the job done Sunday.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Digital reporter and host
The Jaguars will win if: They score fast. Head Coach Doug Marrone has emphasized the entire week the need to get in the end zone during the first quarter. The Chargers have had trouble finishing games and have lost four games by a touchdown or less. The more the Jaguars can score before halftime, the better chance they have to surprise a lot of people and win this game.
The Chargers will win if: Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram do what they do best. Jaguars offensive tackles Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor are in for a big day trying to control two of the most dominant defensive ends in the game. The Jaguars' offensive line must limit Bosa and Ingram to give Minshew a chance to be successful.
As Sullivan sees it: This game will be closer than what we have seen in past weeks. I think the Jaguars will stay competitive and use wide receivers DJ Chark Jr. and Keelan Cole even more than we have seen so far this year. However, I think this defense will have a tough time stopping Herbert and threats such as receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. This Jaguars defense hasn't shown me it can handle limiting offensive weapons. I hope they prove me wrong Sunday.