San Diego Chargers (3-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6)
What an accomplishment for the Jacksonville Jaguars! They covered the spread last week for the first time and this season, only losing to the Broncos by a mere 16 points. In all seriousness, the Jaguars could be kind of flat after putting everything they had into that game and coming up short. Now they return home to face the Chargers. In case you didn’t already know this, the Jaguars are pretty bad. Even last week’s performance, their best of the year, would have been a 22 point game if they didn’t pick off Peyton Manning and return it for six (they failed on the 2 point conversion attempt). Justin Blackmon returning has provided a boost, but not one that losing Eugene Monroe, Luke Joeckel, and Cecil Shorts doesn’t nullify.
They are moving the ball at a 61% rate offensively, as opposed to 78% for their opponents, a 17% differential that is easily the worst in the NFL. They’ve lost every game this season by 10 points or more, which is relevant because this line is only 7.5 points. The Chargers are not a bad team by any stretch of the imagination. They beat the Colts at home last week. That doesn’t mean they are better than the Colts, just like their loss to the Raiders doesn’t mean they are worse than the Raiders, but they were able to take advantage of a superior opponent in a trap game spot and win pretty convincingly. Their defense has been terrible, allowing opponents to move the chains on 80% of opportunities, but their offense has been dynamic, moving the chains on 82% of opportunities. This line is too low.
On top of that, the trends favor the Chargers. The Jaguars have another rough game next week with the 49ers coming to town so they might not be as focused as they need to be. Since 2010, teams are 31-64 ATS before a game in which they will be double digit underdogs, which the Jaguars almost surely will be next week. On top of that, teams are 33-50 ATS as home dogs before being home dogs again. Meanwhile, the Chargers have a bye week up next, so they have no distractions. Since 2002, teams are 62-27 ATS as either 7+ point home favorites or 3.5+ point road favorites before a bye. Vastly superior teams usually take care of business going into a bye.
This would be my Pick of the Week if it wasn’t for three things. One, I’m concerned the Chargers could fall flat off of a home upset win, like they did in Oakland. Two, this is a 1 PM East Coast Time start for a West Coast team. Three, favorites of more than a touchdown on the road have not been covering over the past 3 seasons, going 3-16 ATS in that situation. However, the Colts covered as 9 point favorites in a 37-3 win in Jacksonville earlier this season, so this is still a high confidence pick.
San Diego Chargers 34 Jacksonville Jaguars 13
Pick against spread: San Diego -7.5