Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET
It’s wild how fast a defense can crumble across a few years. Just look at the Jags.
From nearly knocking off Tom Brady and carrying Blake Bortles to a Super Bowl, to now being in serious danger of entering the record books on quite a dubious note. This is the story of a D’s fall from grace.
Three seasons ago, Jacksonville boasted maybe the best defense in all of football. These days, they’re on the verge of tying the NFL record for most consecutive games in a single season allowing at least 30 points. ‘Duval’ crew is currently at five.
And avoiding a fateful sixth straight one will be challenging. Not only are the Jaguars dealing with notable injury-related absences on the defensive side of the ball (Myles Jack, Abry Jones, Jarrod Wilson), they must also contend with upstart rookie signal-caller Justin Herbert.
Since being inserted as QB1, Herbert has wowed any and all that have watched him in his four starts, averaging just about 300 yards per game and notching a 9-3 TD/INT ratio. Overall, the No. 6 selection in this past April’s draft has etched a very shiny 107.1 passer rating.
Yet I still think that Jags unit can kinda hang in there and be productive for an over/under this high. Just hear me out.
The Jaguars are getting — probably — their defensive MVP Josh Allen (don’t forget about the other one!) back this afternoon. Allen is a legitimate disruptor on the defensive line and his standing as the club’s best pass-rusher can make a huge difference here against a QB that, at times, is holding onto the football too long. Plus, LA’s O-line isn’t in the best of shape.
Herbert has been hot; there’s no question about that. But a cooling-off period could be in store with the Chargers coming off their bye week. One thing that can disrupt any youngster’s rhythm is a break in play.
Remember, Los Angeles is also missing Austin Ekeler in the running game. Being a considerably dynamic piece of the offense, his spot on the sidelines is something that vastly benefits the Jags. Keenan Allen (back) is banged up as well.
That’s most likely going to be what determines this total: Jacksonville’s defense keeping it together. And somewhat surprisingly, I think they can.
The Chargers are also getting a major player back on defense in the form of Melvin Ingram. I have no qualms regarding what they have planned for Gardner Minshew and his band of misfit toys.
This is actually a solid group despite the 25 points they’ve allowed each week — which isn’t even horrible by 2020 standards. One, Los Angeles features high-brand names sprinkled throughout the D, like Joey Bosa and Casey Hayward. They’ve also fared well versus all-time greats in the early going, specifically Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees (they really should’ve won both those games).
Above all, the Chargers are getting the chance to welcome a scuffling offense, one that’s averaged 17 points the last four games after dropping 57 points in the first two contests. The reasoning is simple.
Teams are clearly learning how to game plan against Minshew, implementing a lot more zone defense. The Washington State product hasn’t proven he can beat that, and his inability to make those throws consistently allows opponents to prepare more for the rush attack. As it is, the Chargers have the ninth-best rushing D.
When they faced Minshew last year, the results were a lot more favorable to the defense, as the then-rookie managed just 162 yards through the air while Jacksonville could only muster up a grand total of 10 points.
With a total as high as 49.5, one offense being held down today can do the trick.
The Bet: UNDER 49.5 (-110)
The Record: 4-2, +1.8 units
Last Week: Bears-Panthers Under 45 (WIN)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit