JACKSONVILLE – Each week during the 2022 season, Jaguars "experts" – Tony Boselli, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton and J.P. Shadrick – will analyze the following day's Jaguars matchup.
Up this week:
The Los Angeles Chargers in a 2022 AFC Wild Card Playoff game at TIAA Bank Field.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
- The Jaguars will win if:They can run to set up the pass. The Chargers are one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, and it's imperative the Jaguars take advantage of that. Staying ahead of the chains will help neutralize two elite pass rushers.
- The Chargers will win if:They can make the Jaguars one-dimensional, which will set up Bosa and Mack to wreck the game. Offensively, if Ekeler has a big day running and receiving the Jaguars' defense is in trouble.
- As Boselli sees it:For the Jaguars to win. it will have to be in a shootout. I think Lawrence and the offense are up to the challenge. The good news is Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams is out, so the Chargers' offense will be hampered. It's going to be a back-and-forth affair with both offenses scoring, but the Jaguars defense will get a big turnover late and the Jaguars will win, 35-31.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
- The Jaguars will win if: They keep Herbert in the pocket and cover wide receivers Mike Williams and Allen. Both are talented and will test the Jaguars' secondary. And the Jaguars' offense must return to form. Lawrence must hit open receivers when the opportunity is there. The Jaguars also must rush better than last week to keep a very good Chargers pass rush at bay.
- The Chargers will win if: They protect Herbert better than in the last matchup. They also must defend underneath and crossing routes the Jaguars execute so well, particularly wide receiver Christian Kirk out of the slot, and tight Even Engram – who is often matched up against a linebacker. They also must harass Lawrence.
- As Frangie sees it: The Jaguars crushed the Chargers in Week 3 – and even though this is a much healthier Los Angeles team, and although the stakes are higher, there still is something to that. The Jaguars match up well against the Chargers. And the Jags will be better on offense than last week. This will go to the fourth quarter, but the Jaguars are well-positioned here.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
- The Jaguars will win if: Lawrence is able to outduel Herbert. The Chargers are going to score some points and Lawrence must be decisive and in command of the offense. Jaguars tackles Jawaan Taylor and Walker Little will have to provide the time needed against two outstanding edge players in Bosa and Mack. But Lawrence will have to help them with his athleticism and mobility at times. The Jaguars' receivers must catch everything thrown their way.
- The Chargers will win if: Herbert is able to stress a Jaguars defense by having balance. Ekeler is an outstanding running back and excellent receiver out of the backfield that will be tough to stop. If Ekeler is effective at keeping manageable situations for the Chargers' offense, then it will be near impossible to stop Herbert's gifted arm from finding wide receiver Keenan Allen, who has been red hot down the stretch.
- As Lageman sees it: This will be one heck of a matchup that is "get your popcorn ready" must see football with two young gunslingers that will be in the AFC playoff conversations for many years to come. The environment will be tremendous with the Kingdom of Duval making for a truly hostile environment for the west coasters. This will be a high-scoring game with aggressive coaching that will come down to turnovers. Win the turnover battle and you win the game.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
- The Jaguars will win if: Lawrence can have a turnover-free game. It's five turnovers in the last four games for Lawrence, who has been playing good football but must limit the mistakes this time of year. Lawrence doesn't need to be perfect, but he can't miss the opportunities he missed against Tennessee if the Jaguars are going to win in the playoffs.
- The Chargers will win if: They control the Jags' running game. The biggest wart on defense for this team is run defense. If the Chargers can find a way to fix that and contain Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr., that will allow the pass rushers to pressure Lawrence. If Los Angeles can't slow down the run, Lawrence and Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson might put on a show.
- As Martineau sees it: I love this game and matchup in primetime. I think it has a chance to be the game of the weekend in the playoffs. I see a lot of people predicting a game in the 20s with the defenses coming to life over the last month, but not me. I think the Jaguars win in a shootout, 37-33.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
- The Jaguars will win if: Lawrence and the Jaguars' offense gets special again. Lawrence and the Jaguars have been good at times offensively in recent weeks – and good enough to complement a defense that is playing as well as it has all season. But more points – and more big plays from Lawrence – will be needed against Los Angeles.
- The Chargers will win if: They fail to protect the ball. The Chargers are good defensively and figure to score in the high 20s. If they protect the ball while scoring efficiently, the Jaguars could have difficulty keeping pace. The Jaguars' defense forced 27 turnovers this season, fourth in the NFL. If the Jaguars take advantage of that strength, their chances Saturday go up exponentially.
- As Oehser sees it: The Jaguars are better than when they beat the Chargers in Week 3. But the Chargers are better than they were then, too. The Jaguars will play looser – and more aggressively – Saturday than they did in a 20-16 Week 18 victory over the Tennessee Titans, and the Jaguars can win what likely will be a high-scoring game against the Chargers.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
- The Jaguars will win if: They score 27 points or more. In seven losses this season, the Chargers have allowed an average of 27 points; four teams had to score at least 30 to beat Los Angeles. The Chargers have big-play potential all over the field, especially Austin Ekeler out of the backfield; they're going to score. Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Co. must unleash a bold offensive strategy and execute it to near perfection to beat the Chargers again.
- The Chargers will win if: Pass rushers Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack wreck the game plan. Bosa left the Jaguars' 38-10 victory over the Chargers in Week 3 in Los Angeles in the first half and is just now getting back to live action. His absence made it more challenging for Mack, who had just eight sacks on the season. But even without Bosa, the Chargers registered 40 sacks. If Bosa and Mack are pressuring the quarterback with ease, it will be tough to score enough to win.
- As Sexton sees it: This will be a shootout, which is why it's on Saturday night instead of 4 p.m. These two teams are so close statistically that it will come down to who makes more plays and who makes more mistakes. I like the Jaguars at home riding their five-game winning streak in front of another frenzied crowd against the Chargers, who played in Denver on Sunday and have to go coastal on a short week.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com senior reporter
- The Jaguars will win if: They get a big game from Lawrence and a couple takeaways on defense. This feels like a game that the Jaguars must score to keep up with the Chargers' third-ranked passing offense, but the Chargers were 28th against the run this season. This will still be a balanced attack, but Lawrence's performance in key moments will be the area to watch – especially on play-action.
- The Chargers will win if: They win the turnover battle by two or more. If Lawrence or the Jaguars receivers are off, then this could be a long night. If the Chargers slow down the running attack of Etienne, they could force third-and-long situations for the Jags, and that's far from ideal against the Chargers pass rushers. Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert will put it in the air, and if he has time to work in the pocket it could be a problem. The Jaguars must pressure and hit Herbert throughout the game and force him to misfire.
- As Shadrick sees it: The Jaguars are winning games in different ways down the stretch, but they have yet to play a full complete game in all phases. This would be a good time to start: solid quarterback play with a sound running attack, a rabid takeaway defense and a big play or two on special teams. If the Jaguars get an early two-score lead, it wouldn't be over, but the crowd energy could give the Chargers fits the rest of the day. This feels like the Jaguars' time to step forward. Head Coach Doug Pederson's steady leadership in big postseason moments will be key, as all hell can break loose in any playoff game.