Breakdown of how the Chargers (1-1) and Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) get into their game Sunday at 1:05 p.m. PDT at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. The game will be shown on CBS and streamed on Paramount+ and NFL+.
When Chargers have the ball: The tenor of this block of text is entirely dependent on the availability of Justin Herbert. The Chargers Pro Bowl quarterback is officially in doubt after suffering a fractured rib cartilage. The Chargers rose from Thursday’s seven-point favorite to Friday’s three-point favorite after reports that Herbert wasn’t throwing 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 against Trey Pipkins III (foot) is also questionable. If Herbert can’t play, veteran backup Chase Daniel will start, Staley said. Whoever the quarterback is, the Chargers’ plan will likely include an emphasis on shorter, faster passes. This approach would limit Herbert’s vulnerability or exploit what Daniel will probably be most comfortable doing. The Chargers could also try to turn to an ongoing game that has lacked consistency. They rank 28th in the league with a rushing pace of 75.5 yards per game and have averaged just 2.7 yards in 55 carries. A possible problem: Jacksonville’s front seven is considered a strength. The Jaguars are third in rushing defense.
When Jaguars have the ball: When these teams last met – on Oct. 25, 2020 – Jacksonville’s quarterback was Gardner Minshew II. The Chargers took a 16-0 lead early that day at SoFi Stadium, falling behind in the third quarter and coming out with a 39-29 -Victory back. That same weekend, Trevor Lawrence threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns to lead Clemson to a win over Syracuse. Lawrence, the top overall pick of the 2021 draft, will face the Chargers for the first time on Sunday. He threw for 510 yards and three touchdowns with one interception as the Jaguars split their two games to open the season. “This guy was as good as it gets at college football,” Staley said. “…I think they did a good job of building the offense around him.” Jacksonville’s record-breaking offseason spending spree included signing receiver 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 headed in the right direction after a turbulent season.
When they kick: The Chargers’ Dustin Hopkins has made all six of his extra point attempts and two of his 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 NFL season. Patterson is four-for-four on extra points and four-for-five on field goal attempts with a 52-yard streak.
Jeff Miller’s prediction: Even if Herbert isn’t playing, the Chargers seem to be the better team. But don’t neglect Linsley’s absence when he’s out. Depending on who’s playing, this could certainly be a fight.
CHARGERS 20, JAGUAR 14