Jaguars vs Chargers Picks, Prediction: Justin Herbert Active in Week 3
Mark Brown/Getty Images. Pictured: Trevor Lawrence.
Jaguars vs. Chargers Odds
|+225 / -275
|Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
|Odds via FanDuel as of Sunday at 2:55 p.m. ET.
The old adage is that teams show the greatest improvement from Week 1 to Week 2, and no squad embodied that better than the Jacksonville Jaguars. To say a lot has changed from the 2021 version of this team to its current iteration would be a massive understatement.
The Jaguars have the second best overall DVOA in football (trailing the Bills), according to Football Outsiders. In fact, every team ranking in the top eight of that metric is favored this week — except for the Jaguars. We will gladly capitalize on that value.
Jaguars vs. Chargers Matchup Analysis
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Jaguars vs. Chargers DVOA Breakdown
After a year of turmoil, the tides are beginning to turn for Trevor Lawrence. In 2021, he dealt with an incompetent coach and very poor play from his supporting cast — no group of receivers dropped more passes (41) at a higher rate (7.4%).
The addition of Christian Kirk has already made an immense difference. After registering a +23.9% DVOA on 81 slot targets for Arizona in 2021, Kirk has stepped up his game and is leading the NFL in yards receiving from the slot. He also ranks 11th in overall WR DVOA and 10th in defensive adjusted yards above replacement (DYAR).
Lawrence has also benefited from a substantial disparity in pass protection as his 4.8% sack rate from a year ago has lowered to 2.7%. It’s no surprise he is coming off his best game as a pro.
The headlines regarding the Jaguars will certainly feature Lawrence often in 2022, but I am making this pick because of the Jacksonville defense. Mike Caldwell’s unit has the pieces to play the attacking style he favors.
The Jaguars defense forced just nine turnovers in the 2021 season. However, they’ve already managed to force six this season. We are only a few more solid performances away from considering this unit among the league’s elite.
Drafting an ultra athletic chess piece (Travon Walker) has certainly helped, but it’s the ascension of Josh Allen that has put this defense over the top. Allen is the third-ranked pass rusher, according to PFF, and his overall production — two sacks, three tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and three quarterback hits — has matched.
Jaguars linebacker Devin Lloyd, PFF's highest graded rookie in Week 2, has also stepped in and made his presence felt immediately. Lloyd is quickly becoming one of the best run-stuffing defenders in the NFL, ranking third in that area (PFF run defense) among inside linebackers.
The Chargers won't begin this contest with an aggressive gameplan; Joe Lombardi rarely does. If Justin Herbert toughs it out, the goal will be to run the ball, protect his ribs and get the ball out of his hands quickly in the passing game.
I do not see that plan of attack altering if Chase Daniel gets the start. At a minimum, the Jaguars' defense will force the Chargers to move the ball with long, sustained drives. The attacking style of the third-ranked DVOA defense has enough juice to create negative plays, similar to what the Chiefs did in the second half to come from behind and steal a win from Los Angeles.
There is a reason Brandon Staley has not thrived as a favorite in the betting markets. The Chargers offensive philosophy is not conducive to putting teams away when they are laying points. Since Staley has taken over as head coach, this team is 4-7 (36.3%) against the spread as a favorite of three or more points.
Since 2010, road underdogs of 10 points or fewer in Week 3, who are taking on an opponent that has covered the number in each of its first two games, are an impressive 21-15-1 (58.3%). In the past three seasons, teams in this specific spot are getting bettors to the proverbial ticket window at a 66.6% rate (8-4).
Every year there is a team that goes from worse to first in its division and the Jaguars are that team in 2022. Take the points with the NFL’s most improved defense.
If Daniel is announced as the starter, play this game at Jaguars +3 or better. If Herbert is active, only play the Jaguars at +4.5 or better.
Bet Jaguars +4.5 or higher