Can Jacksonville Jaguars stymie Los Angeles Chargers again, this time in NFL wild card round?

Can Jacksonville Jaguars stymie Los Angeles Chargers again, this time in NFL wild card round?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The weeks only get bigger from this point on.

The Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8) will face off against the Los Angeles Chargers (10-7) on Saturday at 8:15 PM (NBC and Peacock) at TIAA Bank Field in the wild-card round of the playoffs. It will be a rematch of the teams’ Week 3 meeting on the West Coast when Jacksonville defeated the Chargers 38-10.

Saturday will mark just the fifth home playoff game for the Jaguars and first since 2018 (Buffalo Bills). It’s also the second time Jacksonville has hosted a playoff game since 1999.

Jacksonville finished in first place in the AFC South division after defeating the Tennessee Titans 20-16 last Saturday night, while the Chargers finished in second place in the AFC West, trailing the Kansas City Chiefs 14-3.

The Jaguars enter Saturday’s game on a five-game winning streak, clinching an AFC South title for just the second time in franchise history.

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) celebrates with wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) after his touchdown during the regular season finale against the Tennessee Titans on Jan. 7, 2023.

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Jaguars coach Doug Pederson said earlier this week that he hasn’t seen any nervousness from his guys. They have been in the same position for weeks.

“No bigger than last weekend,” Pederson said.

“Obviously, this is a little different. The atmosphere is going to be different. The pace is going to be a little different; the intensity is going to be a little different. It’s the same as it is in the postseason. I haven’t seen any changes with the team, which is a good thing. We just have to focus on our jobs.”

Although the team’s win against the Titans to get them into the playoffs was huge, it’s in the future, quarterback Trevor Lawrence said this week.

“Obviously, that’s a big step for us, but now, since we’ve come back, it’s really just been about next week, or this week, going into the next week, focusing on the task at hand and realizing that it’s the same thought process. week to win another opportunity the following week. Just find a way to win, whatever it takes,” Lawrence said.

The story continues

Both Lawrence and his counterpart, Chargers QB Justin Herbert, will make their playoff debuts on Saturday.

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, left, gets pressured by Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen during a game Sept. 25, 2022.

Lawrence finished the regular season with a 66.3 percent completion percentage, 30 total touchdowns (25 passing, five rushing), eight interceptions and 4,113 passing yards.

Herbert finished the year with a 68.2 percent completion percentage, 25 touchdowns (all passes), 10 interceptions and 4,739 passing yards.

The Jaguars starters get a unique opportunity in the playoffs

The Jaguars will have 40 players who have never touched the field for a playoff game on Sunday.

That includes newcomers like starting linebacker Devin Lloyd, who talked about the possibility in the locker room Thursday.

“It’s definitely exciting, especially hearing how long guys have been in the league and not having this opportunity,” Lloyd said. “So I’m definitely grateful, grateful for this opportunity. And I’m looking forward to having another opportunity to play another week.”

Lloyd has had an up and down rookie season. He went from being a full-time starter in the Jaguars’ defense to playing in a backup role with fellow rookie third-round pick LB Chad Muma.

Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Devin Lloyd (33) walks onto the field through the tunnel before a game against the Houston Texans on Oct. 9, 2022.

However, he has embraced the challenge and has had an opportunity to improve as the weeks go by.

“The more you see the better you get and I would say the biggest thing that has helped with his recovery goals is my body is starting to feel fresher than it did a few weeks into the season, really “.

The playoff atmosphere will kick things up a notch, and being able to experience that will be something that Lloyd and his fellow starters will carry with them for the remainder of their careers.

Highlights in the playoff game against the Chargers

The Jaguars finished the regular season with 27 sacks, tied for the fourth-most in the league this season.

Jacksonville Jaguars safety Rayshawn Jenkins (2) forces a collision with Tennessee Titans quarterback Joshua Dobbs during the regular season finale on January 7, 2023.

In the last five games, the Jaguars have committed 11 turnovers, one of the highest marks in the league during that span.

Jacksonville’s propensity to take the ball away will be a huge asset this week.

The team’s defense has surrendered just one touchdown in the last three games, hitting its stride during football’s most important period.

“Everybody’s trusting each other to be where they need to be and everybody’s saying the right things to each other,” Lloyd explained of the defensive turnaround.

“We’ve always been relentless physically, we’ve always played fast. We’ve always played downhill. There were just a few miscommunications, breakdowns, whatever you want to call it at the beginning of the season … all these guys are too young for this protection.

“It’s a first-year defensive coordinator. We cleaned it up all year and we’re in playoff shape, so we feel good.”

The Chargers are one of the best defensive teams this season in football. They gave up just 19 turnovers during the regular season, which ranked fifth in the NFL.

With a high-powered offense (ranked ninth in the league in total yards per game), Jacksonville’s ability to steal possessions becomes more important than ever.

Jaguars rushing offense vs. weak offense Chargers lead defense

The Jaguars offense hasn’t exactly looked sharp in recent weeks. While the team had some success against the Houston Texans in Week 17, they were unable to get the ball going against the Titans – rushing for a season-low 19 yards, the team’s third-lowest total in franchise history . and less in a win.

That probably won’t cut it against the Chargers, a high-powered offense that will benefit from more possessions than the Titans likely can.

“That’s something we try to put in place every weekend if we can, and this will be no different if we try to do it,” Pederson said. “That’s another good front we’re playing, definitely good against the pass. We’ve got to try.”

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. (1) for a touchdown against the Houston Texans during a game on January 1, 2023.

The Chargers currently rank as the 28th best defense in the league, allowing a total of 145.8 yards per game on the ground. They are dead last in yards per attempt allowed at 5.4 YPA allowed.

Jaguars running back Travis Etienne has been the bell-cow back for the team almost all season.

Etienne rushed for 1,125 yards and five touchdowns. He posted five games during the regular season with 100 or more rushing yards.

For Etienne, the solution is simple – move on.

“Just calling the plays, honestly, just calling the runs,” Etienne said. “Just execute, don’t give up on the run, keep moving and just keep calling my number.”

Jaguar’s uniform combination revealed

This week, the Jaguars will wear maroon jerseys and white pants to face the Chargers.

Jaguars, Chargers injury report: Mike Williams ruled out of LA

No team in the playoffs is completely healthy, and that could apply to the Jaguars and Chargers as they prepare for their biggest games of the season.

For Jacksonville, five players are listed as questionable including Lawrence (ankle), receivers Kendric Pryor (shoulder) and Jamal Agnew (shoulder), wide receiver Ross Matiscik (back) and forward Brandon Scherff (abdomen).

Kicker Riley Patterson was listed on the injury report this week for the first time with a right knee injury, but practiced fully the last two days. He was taken off the injury report on Thursday.

Lawrence has been listed as questionable since injuring his toe against the Detroit Lions six weeks ago, but has played in every game.

Agnew, Matiscik, Scherff and Agnew will likely suit up Saturday as well with Pryor as the only real question mark. Pryor has not been active for any games this season.

For Los Angeles, while they initially listed eight players on their injury report for the week, only receiver Mike Williams (back) remained listed as questionable as of Thursday. Williams suffered the injury in the team’s Week 18 loss to the Denver Broncos. On Friday, however, Williams was ruled out, unable to play in Saturday’s contest.

Mike Williams (81) of the Los Angeles Chargers is tackled by Brandon Facyson (31) of the Indianapolis Colts during a game on December 26, 2022.

Williams played in the teams’ first meeting, hauling in just one catch for 15 yards. The Chargers will likely use third-string receiver Joshua Palmer in his place along with DeAndre Carter.

Demetrius Harvey is the Jacksonville Jaguars reporter for the Florida Times-Union. You can follow him on Twitter at @Demetrius82.

This article originally appeared in the Florida Times-Union: Jaguars seek second win over Chargers this time in NFL wild card round

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