Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) at Los Angeles Chargers (1-1)
This game is tough to predict because even as of Sunday morning we don’t know the status of Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, who is dealing with a rib injury suffered in last week’s game. Herbert stayed in the game last week and practiced in a limited fashion earlier this week, so most assumed he would play, but then he didn’t throw in Friday’s practice, making him legitimately questionable and reportedly a gametime decision. As a result, this line plummeted from favoring the Chargers by 9 down to 3, with veteran backup Chase Daniel starting now being a legitimate possibility. With some optimism on Sunday morning that Herbert will play, this line moved back up to 3.5, but it’s hard to make any sort of definitive pick without knowing Herbert’s status and where this line will settle when his status is confirmed.
Early in the week, I liked the Jaguars as 9-point underdogs. While they have gotten off to an impressive start, ranking 6th in overall efficiency, the Chargers rank just 28th and, though it’s only been two games, my roster rankings suggest this line would be too high at 9 even if Herbert plays, especially since he’s unlikely to be 100% even in a best case scenario. Part of that is because, even if Herbert plays, the Chargers have significant injury concerns, down their top cornerback JC Jackson, stud center Corey Linsley, and possibly talented wide receiver Keenan Allen, who is questionable to return from a hamstring injury that cost him last week’s game. The Chargers also typically struggle at home, frequently playing in front of crowds who prefer the visitor and going just 16-24 ATS at home since moving to Los Angeles in 2017.
Unfortunately, it’s much harder to take the Jaguars with any certainty at 3.5. If Herbert doesn’t play, the Jaguars have a good chance to pull the upset, but if Herbert does play, this line would obviously be too low. I’m tentatively taking the Jaguars for now, especially since the line has moved up to 3.5, a key number given that 1 in 4 games are decided by 3 points or fewer, but I will almost definitely have an update to this pick before gametime once we learn Herbert’s status and where this line will ultimately settle.
Update: Herbert is starting and the line has subsequently jumped to 6.5. I don’t like the Jaguars at that number as much as I liked them at 9 earlier this week, but Herbert figures to be limited and he’ll be without Keenan Allen, on top of Linsley and Jackson being out, so the Jaguars should still be the right side for pick ’em purposes.
Los Angeles Chargers 26 Jacksonville Jaguars 20
Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +6.5