2022 NFL season: 5 things to study for in Chargers-Jaguars on Tidy Wild Card Weekend

Jacksonville Jaguars

Saturday night time’s matchup between the fourth-seeded Jacksonville Jaguars and fifth-seeded Los Angeles Chargers is one in all the extra bright video games of Tidy Wild Card Weekend.

Led by younger quarterbacks making their playoff debuts and threat-taking head coaches who promptly ended postseason droughts, the Chargers-Jaguars matchup has all the makings of an evenly matched game. It moreover has gargantuan probably to be the most tantalizing game of the slate with two high-10 offenses squaring off.

Brandon Staley’s playoff debut is available in his 2nd season with the Chargers, marking the franchise’s first postseason appearance since 2018. Nevertheless 12 months following a Week 18 further time loss to the Raiders, which could well presumably’ve earned L.A. a playoff berth, the Chargers fair to appropriate a sinful after persevering by blueprint of an hurt-riddled season in 2022.

Doug Pederson’s first season with the Jaguars has introduced Jacksonville its 2nd dwelling playoff game this century after a success the AFC South in 2022. The Jaguars needed to secure in Week 18 in tell to come to a decision on its first division crown since 2017, which used to be the franchise’s remaining postseason appearance.

Saturday may be the first-ever playoff assembly between the 2 franchises. They’re two of 12 teams in the NFL to maintain by no blueprint gained a Tidy Bowl, and join the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals and Minnesota Vikings as those among this year’s playoff field vying for the franchise’s first Lombardi Trophy.

Listed below are 5 things to study for when the Jaguars host the Chargers on Saturday:

  1. Excessive-profile QBs of NFL’s the following day. Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence, a pair of below-25 QBs making their playoff debuts, provide a study into the NFL’s subsequent era of perennial postseason stars. The Herbert-Lawrence matchup may be the first-ever playoff game between two QBs selected in the discontinue 10 within the old three drafts, and will most certainly be factual the third matchup of QBs that are making their playoff debuts within their first three seasons in the Tidy Bowl era, per NFL Overview. Entering Tidy Wild Card Weekend as the league’s most efficient passers in the latter half of of the season, Herbert (70.1) and Lawrence (69.7) have faith the 2 absolute best completion percentages in the NFL since Week 9 and maintain respective passer scores of 93.2 and 95.2. The Chargers and Jaguars are two of three teams in the NFL this season to make a trio of inch catchers with 750-plus receiving yards by virtue of their younger gunslingers. Herbert’s 292.2 passing yards per game on the road are 2nd-most in the league since 2021, and he faces a Jaguars crew that hasn’t allowed 250-plus passing yards since Week 13. Lawrence comes into the playoffs having waned off in a mettlesome season, throwing factual one landing and averaging 197.7 yards per game in the remainder three video games despite going undefeated in that span.
  2. An efficient inch bustle may perhaps be the variation. Los Angeles endured its worst loss of the season in Week 3 when the Jaguars came to town and hung a dominant 28-level victory. The inch-rushing disparity from that game provides a key component going into Saturday’s rematch. Per Subsequent Gen Stats, Lawrence used to be pressured on factual 12.8% of dropbacks while the Jaguars successfully rushed Herbert 30.4% of the time. Lawrence went 9-for-16 passing for 100 yards and two TDs when given on the least 2.5 seconds to throw and led an offense that scored three total TDs when the Chargers didn’t apply rigidity. Joey Bosa left that Week 3 game early because of the a groin hurt that kept him out till Week 18, and his return is the largest in opposition to Lawrence, who mustered factual 14 yards passing (2 of 5 completions) in the few times he felt rigidity in opposition to the Bolts. Winners of 5 of their remaining six, the Chargers maintain produced 18 sacks since Week 14, which is nearly half of of their sack total for the season (40), and exacting revenge in opposition to Jacksonville could well perhaps simply be linked to how repeatedly the inch bustle creates rigidity.
  3. Accidents educate Chargers into postseason. Staley’s resolution to play his starters in a needless Week 18 game in opposition to the Broncos introduced forth the most up-to-date chapter of an hurt-riddled season. Large receiver Mike Williams (encourage; questionable) is the Chargers’ chief in receiving yards with 895 off 63 receptions (four TDs), and his absence is the largest for an offense that averaged 3.5 aspects and 50-plus yards per game much less this season with him in the lineup. The mammoth-play threat of Williams creates substitute for L.A., with Keenan Allen getting desired one-on-one matchups and running encourage Austin Ekeler seeing masses of room forward on quick passing performs. Williams’ presence has moreover had a gargantuan discontinue on Herbert’s effectivity on third down, with the QB averaging 7.7 yards per strive with seven TDs, one interception and a 108.6 passer ranking with Williams enjoying and mustering 5.8 YPA, no TDs, two INTs and a 61.8 passer ranking with out the mammoth-bodied wideout. For a Chargers crew that lost key gamers on either aspect of the ball in 2022, Williams’ availability would be critical for a secure, however it completely could well perhaps moreover be the crux of a disappointing, yet fitting, ending to their 2022 season.
  4. Opportunity knocks for Travis Etienne. The 2nd-year Jaguars running encourage has largely flown below the radar in his first healthy season, however a breakout game looms in opposition to a leaky speed defense. The Chargers maintain allowed 145.8 rushing yards per game (twenty eighth in NFL) and 5.4 yards per elevate. That’s over 30 YPG extra than any various playoff crew in the convention and the worst YPC moderate allowed in the Tidy Bowl era, basically basically based on NFL Overview. Handiest 5 teams in NFL historical past maintain allowed a greater YPC in a season, and Etienne’s mammoth-play speed is a severe threat that has probably to enrich Jacksonville’s passing attack. Etienne had 1,125 rushing yards and 5 TDs (5.1 YPC moderate) while together with 316 yards receiving (35 receptions) this year. Most of that manufacturing came after Week 6 when Etienne became the featured RB in Jacksonville, ranking fifth in the league with 910 rushing yards since that level. Whereas the Chargers speed defense did enhance in the remainder weeks of the season, Etienne stands as a probably X-component on Saturday night time and the desk is decided for him to punctuate a breakout season.
  5. Mindsets of Staley, Pederson could well perhaps bring forth a deciding moment. The Chargers and Jaguars are led by head coaches unafraid to come to a decision on risks. For greater or worse, Staley has lickety-split garnered a reputation for his fourth-down choices, however the Chargers maintain no query embraced the perspective since remaining year. In 2022, the Chargers weren’t as worthwhile on fourth downs, converting 51.7% of 29 attempts versus the 22 of 34 (64.7%) attempts they converted remaining season. Identifying when to come to a decision on those risks, which has been the predominant argument of Staley’s critics, has been a strong level trait for the coaching form of Pederson, who gained Tidy Bowl LII with the underdog Eagles. The Jaguars, too, maintain taken their probabilities with Pederson on the helm, ranking in the discontinue 10 in the NFL alongside side the Chargers in fourth-down attempts and conversions (14 of 27; 51.9%). Pederson has introduced an unmistakable gusto to Jacksonville upon his arrival and Jaguars gamers maintain grown extra confident at some level of the direction of a season that started with a 2-6 file. The upstart Jags could well perhaps need an edge right here given Pederson’s past playoff journey, however Staley’s Chargers maintain game-deliberate well down the stretch and maintain a extra sure historical presence on the field. Add in the fact that Staley’s defense will inch up in opposition to Pederson’s offense, both of which being that coach’s uniqueness, and you’ve got got an bright head-coaching nervousness that is shuffle to maintain cameras fascinating on the sidelines when that resolution-making moment comes.

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