Rough loss on Sunday with the Bears. Matt Forte went down early in the game and the Bears never seemed to get their bearings. I said the Bears would win 24-10, well I got the ten points part right. Bears lose 10-3. The Bears D did what they needed to but the offense was invisible. 181 total yards? Ouch. Add that loss to the Thursday night Eagles loss and we’re looking at 0-2 going into Monday Night. But I’m riding a nice Monday Night streak this season, 7-3 so far, and three straight MNF winners. But the NFL didn’t do me any favors with this matchup.
San Diego visits Jacksonville. The Chargers are three point favorites on the road, the total is 39.
This matchup is very hard to break down. The Chargers are basically the Eagles of the AFC. They came into the season with high expectations, and then totally crapped the bed. They were 10-1 to win the Super Bowl and -1000 to win the AFC West. Now they’re 4-7, in last place in the AFC West and in the grips of a six game losing streak. Not a good run for Norv Turner and the boys. And to top it all off, reports are circulating that Norv is going to be fired at the end of the season, and guess who is going to replace him? Andy Reid. Yeah, it’s gotta be true. The internet never lies.
Firing your coach? ‘Been there, done that’, says Jacksonville. Not only was HC Jack DelRio fired last week, the Jaguars were sold. Beat that, Chargers.
So here we are. One team in the midst of it’s longest losing streak in 10 years, and another with a new coach, and a new owner. Both teams are well under .500, and the home team is having trouble selling out the game. Nice. Can’t wait for this one.
I don’t know who is watching this game tonight. Maybe some Chargers fans, some Jags fans, gamblers and anyone with any of these guys in fantasy football. But here I am, trying to handicap this game and give you a winner. Fun job, isn’t it? But you know what, I do have a pick, but first let’s break down the combatants.
Like I said earlier, San Diego is a hot mess. 4-7 record, six game losing streak, under-performing all season and a coach on the hot seat. But they are actually still alive for the AFC West title if they can get a win. They’d only be two games back of the leaders if they can pull this out. So they still have some motivation to get this done.
Jacksonville has a new (interim) head coach, DC Mel Tucker takes over for the rest of the season. He got the job for good reason, his Jags defense is #2 in defensive efficiency, behind only the Ravens. So, how can a team with such a great defense be 3-8? The problem with the Jaguars is offense, or lack of it. The Jags come into this game averaging a league-low 12.5 points per game, and they have only scored over 17 points once this season. They’re ranked last (32nd) in passing, and 22nd in rushing. Going up against a Charger defense that is 30th overall.
So we have a terrible offense going up against a terrible defense. Not sure who wins that matchup, but it’s not the TV viewers.
The one bright spot on the Jags offense is RB Maurice Jones-Drew. He is tied for first with Shady McCoy averaging 95.4 rushing yards per game. And if the Jaguars want to win this one, they’re going to stick to the ground game with MJD.
When the Chargers have the ball they’ll have their work cut out for them. Jacksonville defense is good. Very good. Coming into the game they have the 2nd overall defense (5th against the pass, 3rd against the rush). And they are allowing only allowing 18.2 points per game.
San Diego has had trouble scoring lately, only once in their last 6 games have they scored over 21 points. QB Phillip Rivers has not been playing up to his past stats. Only once this season has he thrown for more than two touchdowns in a game. I don’t see him doing too much against this tough Jaguars defense. He should play ok, but not light up the scoreboard.
The Jaguars defense should shut down the Chargers, or at least limit their scoring ability. The Jags on offense should be able to move the ball with MJD and kill some clock in the process. I don’t see QB Blaine Gabbert being be much of a factor but he won’t really need to be. It’s all MJD and the Jags defense.
Add all that together and I’m going with UNDER 39 in this one.
Some trends I found on Covers.com point to the UNDER also:
- Jags 10-1 UNDER this season
- Chargers: 10-4 UNDER in their last 14 games on grass
- Chargers: 20-2 in their last 22 games in December
I think that the Jaguars defense will be playing extra fired up now that their guy is in the top seat. MJD made a comment that practices this week were extra intense, and the new coach has the team focused and practicing sharp. But on the other hand, the Chargers continue to struggle. I’ve learned my lesson from the Eagles, sometimes a team is just not as good as you want them to be.
San Diego has to travel east to play against a great defense. It’s going to be a sluggish game. I think the Jaguars defense is the difference. I’ll still give San Diego the win, since the Chargers dominate in December, I think Phillip Rivers will find a way to pull it out and snap the six game losing streak, but it’s not going to be easy.
How about Chargers win 20-14.
The Line: San Diego Chargers -3, O/U 39
Ths Pick: UNDER 39
Let’s recover from a bad weekend and get this one.
Season Record: 16-14. You can see all my picks for the 2011 season documented here.
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