Breaking down how the Chargers (1-1) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) square off before their game at 1:05 p.m. PDT Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. The game will air on CBS and stream on Paramount+ and NFL+.
When the Chargers have the ball: The content of this block of text depends entirely on the availability of Justin Herbert. The Chargers’ Pro Bowl quarterback is officially questionable due to fractured rib cartilage. The Chargers went from seven-point favorites on Thursday to three-point favorites on Friday after it was reported that Herbert wasn’t pitching in practice. The Chargers’ potential offensive problems aren’t limited to Herbert’s uncertain status. Pro Bowl center Corey Linsley (knee) is doubtful and Pro Bowl wide receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring) has a “50-50” chance of being ready, coach Brandon Staley said. Starting right tackle Trey Pipkins III (foot) is also questionable. If Herbert can’t play, veteran backup Chase Daniel will start, Staley said. Regardless of the quarterback, the Chargers’ plan will likely emphasize shorter, faster passing. This approach would limit Herbert’s vulnerability or take advantage of what Daniel will likely be most comfortable doing. The Chargers could also attempt to turn to a running game that has lacked consistency. They’re tied for 28th in the league with a rushing pace of 75.5 yards per game and average just 2.7 yards on 55 carries. One possible problem: Jacksonville’s Front Seven is considered a force. The Jaguars rank third in run defense.
When the Jaguars have the ball: When these teams last met – October 1. Feb. 25, 2020 — Jacksonville’s quarterback was Gardner Minshew II. The Chargers opened up a 16-0 lead that day at SoFi Stadium, fell behind in the third quarter and came back for a 39-29 victory. That same weekend, Trevor Lawrence threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns to lead Clemson to a victory over Syracuse. On Sunday, Lawrence, the first pick in the 2021 draft, will make his first appearance against the Chargers. He threw for 510 yards and three touchdowns with an interception as the Jaguars split their two games to open the season. “This guy was as good as he could be in college football,” Staley said. “…I think they did a good job building the attack around him.” Jacksonville’s record-breaking offseason spending spree included the signing of catcher Christian Kirk to a four-year deal worth up to $72 million. The Jaguars also added right guard Brandon Scherff, tight end Evan Engram and wide receiver Zay Jones. Lawrence and the offense haven’t blossomed yet, but most NFL watchers agree that Jacksonville is heading in the right direction after a turbulent season.
When they strike: The Chargers’ Dustin Hopkins had all six of his extra-point attempts and two of three field goal attempts. His miss came from 49 yards against Las Vegas in Week 1. Jacksonville’s kicker is Riley Patterson, who spent time with Detroit last year and is in his second season in the NFL. Patterson is four-for-four on extra runs and four-for-five on field goal attempts with a length of 52 yards.
Jeff Miller’s prediction: Even though Herbert isn’t playing, the Chargers seem like the better team. But don’t overlook Linsley’s absence, if he is absent. Depending on who is playing, it could definitely be a struggle.
CHARGERS 20, JAGUARS 14