Final Game Preview: Jaguars vs. Chargers

JagNation's Final Preview of the Jaguars / Chargers matchup. What to watch for and what the Jaguars need to do to win.

San Diego Chargers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday, November 18, 2007
1:00 p.m., Jacksonville Municipal Stadium
Kickoff Temperature: 72 degrees, 10% chance of precipitation Line: Jaguars by 3

Series notes: All time series is tied, 1-1. The last meeting in San Diego (10/10/04), the Chargers won 34-21. Jacksonville won the first meeting at home, 27-21 (10/5/03). Jacksonville is 2-2 at home, San Diego is 1-3 on the road. Both teams are 4-2 against the AFC.

Five most important things for the Jaguars:
    1. Contain L.T. In the Chargers four losses this season, LaDainian Tomlinson has averaged just 69 yards rushing. If the Jaguars can keep L.T. under 100, they stand a good chance to win.

    2. Run, run, and more run. The Jaguars have the third-ranked rushing attack in the NFL, and the Chargers are ranked 21st at stopping the run. If the Jaguars can run the ball effectively, they will take a lot of pressure off David Garrard.

    3. Make it a boring game. The Chargers defense and special teams are most successful when they make explosive plays. If San Diego has to play straight-up football with no short fields due to turnovers or big returns, the Jaguars will have a distinct advantage.

    4. Get started early. The Chargers pass rush is excellent, and their secondary is very adept at forcing turnovers. If the Jaguars fall behind early on, they can't afford to be one-dimensional on offense.

    5. Protect your quarterback, attack theirs. David Garrard will not have as much mobility as he had prior to his ankle injury. The Jaguars must do a good job of protecting him against the aggressive Chargers defense. San Diego quarterback Phillip Rivers can be rattled if he gets knocked around. The Jaguars must knock him around.

What to look for:
    1. Antonio Gates will have a big game. The Jaguars have had a very tough time covering tight ends this season, and this is the best tight end in the game. Gates will make some plays.

    2. Look for a lot of underneath passing by the Jaguars. The Colts exposed the middle of the Chargers defense last week without many offensive weapons. Look for the Jaguars to do the same.

    3. Look for L.T. involved in the passing game. The Jaguars have done a poor job of covering running backs out of the backfield and when they are in any kind of space. Look for the Chargers to try and exploit that.

    4. Look for the Jaguars special teams to come up big. The Jacksonville special teams unit is facing a major test against a great coverage team in San Diego, with an explosive return man in Darren Sproles. Look for the Jaguars special teams to be up to the task.

    5. Look for the Jaguars to win the turnover battle. Phillip Rivers has been throwing into coverage this year, and David Garrard hasn't. Look for these trends to continue.

Prediction: The Jaguars are brimming with confidence after their dominating victory on the road over their division rival Tennessee Titans. It's a much tougher test this week with the defending AFC West champions coming to town, but the Jaguars will likely have David Garrard returning at quarterback. If the Jaguars can run the ball and control the game early, they should be able to hold on late. Final score: Jaguars 24, Chargers 23.



Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer.

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