The AFC playoffs start on Saturday night with an intriguing matchup, as the Los Angeles Chargers will travel across the country to face the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars clinched the AFC South last Saturday with a victory over the Tennessee Titans, defeating them by a final score of 20-16. The Chargers dropped their final game of the regular season, losing 31-28 to the Denver Broncos.
These two teams played each other in late September, with Jacksonville soundly defeating Los Angeles 38-10.
We’ll take a look at three storylines for this intriguing game.
It’s Your Time To Shine
For better or for worse, quarterbacks get most of the praise when teams win, and most of the blame when they lose. Fans get to watch two young signal callers play in their first postseason game, as the Chargers’ Justin Herbert and the Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence will look to perform well on the big stage. Both teams invested high draft picks in each player, and feel like they are in good hands for years to come.
It’s going to be interesting to see if either players displays any jitters in a higher stakes game. The offensive coordinator’s of each team might want to start each quarterback off with some easier throws to get their rhythm, before letting them take deep shots down the field. Both Herbert and Lawrence figure to be in the postseason many more times as the years go on, and this experience might catapult them to higher levels of greatness.
Pushing The Envelope
The Chargers didn’t have much to play for last week against Denver. It was possible for them to move up in seeding in the AFC playoffs, but they were guaranteed to be in the postseason before the game ever kicked off. Head coach Brandon Staley decided to play all of his regular starters, and that decision may have backfired heading into Wild Card Weekend.
Wide receiver Mike Williams hurt his back last week against Denver, while pass rusher Joey Bosa appears to have re-aggravated a groin injury that he had previously been dealing with. Both developments are not positive for a Chargers team looking to do some damage in the postseason, and we’ll see if either/both players are able to play.
Different Teams This Time Around
It was mentioned above that these two teams played once before this season, which resulted in a resounding Jacksonville victory. It’s difficult to look at that game and draw conclusions about what might take place on Saturday, though.
For one thing, Jaguars running back James Robinson had a huge game that day, rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown. Robinson was traded to the Jets in the middle of the season, and obviously won’t factor in this weekend. Additionally, Chargers running back Austin Ekeler mustered just five yards on four carries in that game, which is unusual to see from one of the NFL’s premier backs. It seems unlikely that his rushing production will be that meager in this game.