Chargers: First look at AFC wild-card opponent Jacksonville Jaguars

Chargers: First look at AFC wild-card opponent Jacksonville Jaguars

In a rematch of a Week 3 game, the Chargers will meet the Jacksonville Jaguars in an AFC wild-card game next weekend:

HISTORY LESSON: The Jaguars dominated the Chargers 38-10 at SoFi Stadium in late September. Jacksonville opened a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter before the Chargers tightened the score to 16-10 barely three minutes into the second half. But the Jaguars broke open the game on their next possession, a 50-yard touchdown run by James Robinson triggering the rout. Playing in his first game after suffering fractured rib cartilage, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert clearly was not feeling his best. His statistics —- 25 for 45 for 297 yards and a touchdown with an interception — masked how limited he was physically. This was also the game in which the Chargers lost edge rusher Joey Bosa (core muscle) and left tackle Rashawn Slater (biceps) to long-term injuries.

CURRENT EVENTS: Sitting at 6-6 on Thanksgiving, the Chargers roared their way to a playoff berth by winning four in a row during a stretch that included five victories in six games. Their defense led the resurgence, holding the opposition to an average of 11 points per game during the winning streak. Outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy, cornerback Michael Davis and safety Alohi Gilman (filling in for the injured Derwin James Jr.) all played notably well late in the regular season. Inside linebackers Drue Tranquill and Kenneth Murray Jr. also continued playing consistently and productively. As with the Chargers, the Jaguars finished the regular season on a roll. They won five in a row and six of seven after being 3-7 entering their off week in mid-November. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence has been among the NFL’s best in leading Jacksonville to its first playoff appearance since the 2017 season.

HOW THEY MATCH UP: One of the Chargers’ biggest issues remains stopping the run. This time, at least, they won’t have to deal with Robinson, who was traded to the New York Jets in late October. The Jaguars are a middle of the pack running team, averaging 124.5 yards per game. Their leading rusher is Travis Etienne Jr. Offensively, the Chargers are powered by the right arm of Herbert. Jacksonville’s pass defense ranks 28th in the NFL.