AFC Wild Card Best Bets For Chargers Vs. Jaguars Saturday

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Somehow the 4-seed and AFC South champion Jacksonville Jaguars are underdogs when they host the 5-seed Los Angeles Chargers Saturday in an AFC Wild Card matchup at TIAA Bank Field.

Jacksonville rolled LAC earlier this year, the quarterback matchup is more of a toss-up than many people realize, and the Jaguars are much better by the numbers.

The Chargers have a negative net yards per play (nYPP) and negative net points per play (nPPP) whereas Jacksonville has a positive in both nYPP and nPPP. The Jaguars have a better Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade as well.

Betting Details (DraftKings)

  • Moneyline: Chargers (-145), JAGUARS (+125)
  • ATS: Chargers -2.5 (-115), JAGUARS +2.5 (-105)
  • Total — 47.5 — Over: -110, Under: -110

Both teams are hot entering the playoffs. Jacksonville is on five-game winning streak (4-1 ATS) including a must-win over the Titans in Week 18 for the AFC South title.

LAC had its five-game winning streak snapped in a 31-28 loss at the Broncos in Week 18. Even though Chargers coach Brandon Staley playing his starters way longer than he should’ve.

With that in mind …

The Jaguars have an edge in coaching

Jacksonville first-year head coach Doug Pederson won a Super Bowl with the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles. He rescued Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence from a disastrous rookie season under Urban Meyer.

The gap between Pederson and Staley can be demonstrated partially by how the first Chargers-Jaguars meeting played out. Jacksonville smacked LAC 38-10 in Week 3 on the road. This makes sense when you see the injury report

Bettors might grant the Chargers benefit of the doubt because QB Justin Herbert had fractured ribs. LAC were missing starting C Corey Linsley and WR Keenan Allen as well.

Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert fumbles the ball while being sacked by the Jacksonville Jaguars at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert fumbles the ball while being sacked by the Jacksonville Jaguars at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

But, my question is, “Why did Staley leave an injured Herbert in to take unnecessary hits when Jaguars-Chargers was in garbage time?”

Staley pulled a similar move in Week 18 by recklessly playing his starters vs. the Broncos in a meaningless game. This resulted in often-injured Chargers WR Mike Williams being carted off with a back injury.

Both Allen and Williams have been hampered with injuries all year long and now Williams is “questionable” to play. LAC’s passing attack goes from potent when Allen and Williams play to not when they are off the field.

Chargers WRs Mike Williams and Keenan Allen line up before the snap against the Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Chargers WRs Mike Williams and Keenan Allen line up before the snap against the Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Harry How/Getty Images)

If Williams ends up playing and playing well none of this means anything. But, it is another example of Staley figuring it out as he goes.

Last season, it seemed like Staley had set protocols for high-leverage situations (third and fourth down and the red zone. In 2022, it seems like Staley is winging it.

The bottom line is I’d rather have my money on a Pederson-led team given his experience compared to a Staley-coached teams considering his lack of experience.

Furthermore …

The Jaguars have more ways to win

First of all, you could argue Herbert vs. Lawrence is a draw on the tale of the tape. Lawrence has a better QB Rating, EPA/play blended with completion percentage over expectation and TD rate.

Also, Lawrence has more big-game experience by playing in two College Football Playoffs and essentially played a postseason game last week vs. the Titans.

Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence attempts a pass against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.
Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence attempts a pass against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Herbert has a better PFF grade and QBR. But, aside from Herbert’s brilliance, what does LAC do well? The Chargers are 16th in offensive EPA/play and 30th in both yards per rush and rushing yards per game.

LAC’s defense is 29th in YPP allowed, 27th in PPP allowed, and last in yards per rush allowed. On the other hand, the Jaguars are ninth in yards per rush and they rushed for 151 yards on 36 vs. the Chargers in Week 3.

Lastly, Jacksonville has beaten more playoff teams. The Jaguars beat the Ravens with Lamar Jackson in the lineup, the Cowboys, and the Chargers. While the Chargers caught the Dolphins at the beginning of Miami’s recent regression.

BET: Jaguars +2.5 (1 unit on -110) at DraftKings Sportsbook

The Jacksonville Jaguars' odds vs. the Los Angeles Chargers from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Thursday, Jan. 12th at 12:30 p.m. ET.
The Jacksonville Jaguars’ odds vs. the Los Angeles Chargers from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Thursday, Jan. 12th at 12:30 p.m. ET.

PS Player Prop: Chargers RB Austin Ekeler O/U 51.5 rushing yards

Jacksonville’s rushing defense has been solid this year. The Jaguars are seventh in yards per rush allowed and 12th in rushing yards per game allowed.

Ekeler has gone Over 51.5 rushing yards in six of his 17 starts this season. He had five yards on four carries vs. the Jaguars earlier this season.

Chargers RB Austin Ekeler runs over Jaguars LB Devin Lloyd at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.
Chargers RB Austin Ekeler runs over Jaguars LB Devin Lloyd at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Also, I like the Jaguars to cover and win this game outright. Ekeler has rushed for more than 51.5 yards in one of the Chargers’ seven losses and LAC is 31st in rushing rate.

If the Chargers are down, Herbert is going to chuck the ball to get LAC back into the game. Herbert attempted 45 passes with fractured ribs in the Chargers 38-10 loss to the Jaguars in Week 3.

BET: Chargers RB Austin Ekeler UNDER 51.5 rushing yards (0.3 unit on -115) at DraftKings

Los Angeles Chargers RB Austin Ekeler's rushing yards prop at the Jacksonville Jaguars from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Thursday, Jan. 12th at 1 p.m. ET.
Los Angeles Chargers RB Austin Ekeler’s rushing yards prop at the Jacksonville Jaguars from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Thursday, Jan. 12th at 1 p.m. ET.

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FOLLOW GEOFF ON TWITTER: @Geoffery_Clark

Listen to the ‘OutKick Bets with Geoff Clark’ podcast HERE.


PointsBet Sportsbook users can make their first bets risk-free up to $2,000. If the bet loses, PointsBet will refund you in site credit. New users can lock in this offer NOW by clicking this link.

First-time DraftKings users can get up to a $1,000 deposit bonus and receive a 20% first deposit match up to $1,000 when they sign up. New users can lock in this offer NOW by clicking this link.

Written by Geoff Clark

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