JaguarMaven Week 14 Staff Predictions: Jaguars vs. Chargers
The Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8) will look to snap their four-game losing streak today as they host the Los Angeles Chargers at TIAA Bank Field. Each team has had a disappointing 2019 and is looking for any positive momentum they can find over the last four weeks with the playoffs nearly impossible for both to reach.
So, how does the JaguarMaven staff see today's game unfolding? We talked about a few key points below.
1. Phillip Rivers has historically carved up Jacksonville defenses but he has had a down year this season. Do you think he has success on Sunday?
John Shipley: Rivers has had an extremely up and down year in 2019, but I do not think this will be the case vs. Jacksonville. Jacksonville's defense has been depleted by injuries and they struggled vs. a strong wide receiver duo last weekend -- I think they have similar issues with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Rivers may turn it over once, but I think he will have more positives than negatives today.
Andrew DiCecco: Rivers has largely struggled with inconsistencies this season. Many of his passes have been erratic and off their mark, often resulting in interceptions. I think the opportunity will be there for the Jaguars secondary to make a play on the ball.
Brandon Eisenman : Rivers will be able to have success against Jacksonville on Sunday. Given how much turmoil this Jaguars team is facing, I think Rivers and the Chargers offense will take advantage early.
2. Sunday will be Gardner Minshew's first start since Week 9. What do you expect to see from him?
John Shipley: I won't be expecting the world from Minshew. The Jaguars' offense was stagnant at times even when he was the starter earlier in the year, though it was almost always better than the Nick Foles' offense. With that said, I expect him to energize the offense and have it find the end zone more often today than it has in the last month, specifically in the first half. Look for a lot of movement and quick throws from Minshew as they try to keep the Chargers guessing.
Andrew DiCecco: I actually don't anticipate a sluggish start. On multiple occasions, Minshew has mentioned he appreciated the coaching staff give him ample practice reps -- more than a typical backup -- to keep him ready for moments like this.
Brandon Eisenman: I think we’ll see one of Minshew’s average performances. Nothing extravagant, but maybe enough to keep it a close game.
3. Leonard Fournette has only scored three touchdowns all season. Does that change vs. a stingy Chargers defense Sunday?
John Shipley: I do. I think Fournette will be leaned on as Jacksonville makes the switch to Minshew, especially in the red-zone. His usage was at an all-time high earlier this season with Minshew starting and that should only continue today. I think he finds the end zone once and has 125 yards from scrimmage.
Andrew DiCecco: If Fournette is to get his fourth, I don't see it coming against this group.
Brandon Eisenman: With Fournette having only three scores on the season, I don’t see him changing that on Sunday. The Chargers’ defense is great in defending the run. Fournette could have a solid outing, but I don’t see him scoring more than once.
4. Which Jaguars player do you think the most important for a victory Sunday?
John Shipley: This one is obvious, but Gardner Minshew. Jacksonville's offense was horrible with Foles in the lineup and the putrid offense never gave them a chance. For the team to rebound and finally win again, they will need Minshew's mobility and playmaking ability to elevate the offense.
Andrew DiCecco: I've said it before and I will say it again: Josh Allen. Rivers is a quarterback that is affected by the slightest bit of pressure, and when ends crash down and collapse the pocket, it gets him off his spot and forces errant throws -- which typically leads to takeaways.
Brandon Eisenman: Minshew is the key factor on Sunday. Nick Foles obviously wasn’t the answer when he came back. Switching back to the rookie was a smart decision. His level of play will determine whether the Jaguars can remain in the game into the fourth quarter.
5. Final score prediction?
John Shipley: Chargers 27, Jaguars 24.
Andrew DiCecco: I like Jacksonville in this one, 26-23. Rivers, as he usually does, will probably have the ball in the waning moments, with a chance to lead LA to victory. The Jaguars' defense will come up with a timely stop, however.
Brandon Eisenman: Chargers win 31-20. Though Minshew is returning as the starter, the Jaguars’ just haven’t been able to remain consistent this season, hence the 4-8 record. A win on Sunday would be a stepping stone, but I think the Chargers take advantage on both sides of the ball early and never look back.