Chargers vs. Jaguars Odds, Injuries, Prediction: Jacksonville Steps up in Class in NFL Playoffs

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The Los Angeles Chargers are scheduled to face the Jaguars in Jacksonville on Saturday night on the first day of the 2023 NFL Playoffs’ Wild Card Weekend.

The AFC’s fifth-seeded Chargers (10-7 straight up/11-5-1 against the spread) are listed as a favorite of 2 to 2.5 points over the South Division champion Jaguars (9-8 SU/8-9 ATS) in odds posted around the betting marketplace.

NFL Playoff Odds: Chargers vs. Jaguars Point Spread, Total, Moneyline

It’s a rematch of the Jags’ Week 3 victory on the West Coast, when they romped 38-10 as 6.5-point dogs. It was LA’s most-lopsided home loss in two seasons and Jacksonville’s biggest win on the road since 2001.

This game also marks the 26th time in the history of NFL wild cards that the visiting team has been listed as the betting choice. Those favorites have gone 12-13 SU and 6-18-1 ATS. Seven years ago, all four road wild cards were favorites, going 4-0 SU and 2-2 ATS.

Here are current odds from top sportsbook apps.

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Inside the Numbers

This season, Jacksonville has been one of the biggest surprise teams. No squad had a bigger jump in the win-loss column than first-year coach Doug Pederson’s club, a six-victory improvement from its league-worst 3-14 mark in 2021. This is the team’s first playoff berth since 2017.

And the Jags did it with gusto. Behind QB Trevor Lawrence, they outscored their foes by 54 points, a remarkable turnaround from an NFL-worst minus-204 point differential in 2021. That 258-point year-to-year improvement is the best for any team since the LA Rams of 2016 and ’17 had a 319-point change.

nfl playoff odds
Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars are short home underdogs vs. the Chargers, per NFL Playoff odds (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

The Chargers, meanwhile, ended a three-season playoff drought under second-year coach Brandon Staley, thanks in large part to QB Justin Herbert, RB Austin Ekeler (a league-leading 18 TDs), and a defense that came on strong down the stretch in Weeks 14-17, yielding an average only 238.3 yards a game. Included was LA’s 23-17 home win against Miami, when QB Tua Tagovailoa, the top-rated passer in the NFL, was only 10-for-28 for 145 yards.

But the run defense has been a sore spot, giving up 5.4 yards a carry. No team has had that bad a norm since the expansion Vikings in 1961.

More on this game: Chargers vs. Jaguars player props, anytime TD scorers

Tough Spot for Chargers?

The NFL schedule makers didn’t do the Chargers any favors in having them play on short rest after their journey east across three time zones. The Jags, meanwhile, are on normal rest.

But over the past three seasons, LA is 6-1 SU/ATS in the Eastern Time Zone.

Fun fact: As an example of how little exhibition game records matter, five of the six teams that went winless this summer advanced to the playoffs, including 0-4 Jacksonville. Conversely, six teams had perfect preseason records, but only one made the playoffs (Baltimore).

Postseason action: Betting trends for Wild Card Weekend | NFL Playoff picks | Predicting the NFL Playoff bracket

Chargers vs. Jaguars Injuries, Analysis & Prediction

Since that Week 3 win over the Chargers, the Jaguars lost starting OLT Cam Robinson (in Week 15), and now five-time Pro Bowl ORG Brandon Scherff is questionable (abdomen). Maybe that’s a reason Jacksonville had only 19 rushing yards last week.

Meanwhile, the Chargers are healthier than in that previous meeting, when Herbert was playing a week after suffering rib cartilage fracture against Kansas City. He has not missed a game this year and is zinging the ball with authority, which has helped him have the second most air yards in the league. Plus, he’ll be facing the league’s 28th-rated pass defense.

Star receiver Keenan Allen missed that game but is back. But the status of fellow WR Mike Williams (questionable, back) is uncertain.

Also, pass-rush standout Joey Bosa, who had 10.5 sacks last season, has returned after missing most of the season with a groin injury. He could magnify the Jags’ issues along the offensive line.

And then there’s this: It’s hard to get too excited about the Jaguars’ last three victories, considering they faced the NY Jets’ Zach Wilson (ranked last on the passer chart), Houston’s Davis Mills (32nd), and finally career-backup Josh Dobbs of Tennessee, who was making second career start. Herbert is miles better than them.

Forecast: Chargers 29, Jaguars 17

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About the Author
Bob Christ

Bob Christ

Writer
Bob Christ, based in New Mexico, is a sports betting writer at Gaming Today. He has been a gaming writer (primarily for the NFL) for more than four decades, with his work appearing in publications and websites across North America. Christ is a big fan of the Arkansas Razorbacks, Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies, and the NHL's Winnipeg Jets.

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