AFC wild-card preview: Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars pick, line, TV, trends

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Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Zay Jones (7) celebrates after catching a touchdown pass from quarterback Trevor Lawrence, right, during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers in Inglewood, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The Los Angeles Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars will meet for the second time this season, as the NFL wild-card weekend has its second game Saturday night in Jacksonville.

It’s the first playoff appearance for the Los Angeles Chargers in four seasons and the first ever for quarterback Justin Herbert and Coach Brandon Staley. It has been an interesting year for L.A., which won four in a row to clinch the No. 5 seed in the AFC before losing their season-finale against lowly Denver, in which the Chargers used all their starters well into the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, the Jaguars are playing in their first playoff game for the first time since losing in the AFC championship to New England on Jan. 21, 2018. It has been an up-and-down season for Jacksonville, which won two of three to start the campaign before losing five in a row and seven of nine and then winning their final five regular-season games.

Let’s take a closer look at the lines (provided by FanDuel Sportsbook) and trends:

(5) LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (10-7) at (4) JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (9-8)

Time/TV: 8:15 p.m. Saturday (NBC)

Line: Chargers by 2.5

Over/under: 47.5

Previous meeting this season: Jaguars won, 38-10, in Inglewood, Calif., in Week 3.

All-time series: Chargers lead, 9-4. This is the first-ever postseason game between the two.

Series trend notes: Over the past four games, each team has won twice, but the Chargers won six in a row prior to that from 2010 to 2016.

Team trends: This will be the 26th postseason game for the Chargers since they joined the NFL in 1970, but just their 13th this century. They haven’t played a home playoff game since 2010. They have won just two playoff games since the 2009 season. … Los Angeles had multiple winning streaks of three or more since taking six in a row and four in a row in 2018. … This is the 15th postseason game in Jaguars’ history and just the fifth at home. They are 3-1 in their home stadium in the playoffs, having won in 2018, 2000 (62-7 over Dan Marino and Miami) and 1999 and lost to Tennessee in 2000. … The Jaguars’ current win streak (five) is more victories they had in two previous seasons combined (4-28). It’s their first five-game win streak since the middle of the 2005 season.

ANALYSIS

It’s hard to put aside the first meeting between the two teams, even with the fact it was played way back at the end of September, simply because it was THAT decisive.

In that 38-10 Jags’ victory in Los Angeles, the visitors collected 413 yards of total offense, including 151 yards rushing. Why won’t they put up similar numbers in this one against the 28th-ranked rushing defense in the NFL?

In fact, I am trying to figure out exactly why the Chargers are favored here on the road against a team that has won five consecutive games and basically has been in playoff mode since Christmas. That loss to Denver last week was an especially bad look for the Bolts, who played their starters into the fourth quarter and took a beating.

PREDICTION: Jaguars 33, Chargers 23.

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