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NFL Wild Card Round Playoff Preview: Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars

Mark Morales-Smith Jan 12th 7:46 AM EST.

We’ve made it to the playoffs! Your fantasy season is likely over with the exception of some who play in playoff leagues, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to be over. There is still plenty you wager on over the next five weeks. We will kick off our playoff coverage with an intriguing AFC matchup that gives us the Wild Card winning Los Angeles Chargers (10-7) traveling to the AFC South champions Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8).

NFL Best Bets

The Chargers have been playing well down the stretch, but the Jags have been red hot. Something clearly clicked with this team late in the season as they won their final five games and six of their last seven to somehow overtake the Titans and knock off the Tennessee Titans in the last game of the season. The last time this team lost they dropped to 4-8 as the calendar flipped to December as they looked up at the 7-5 Titans.

Inexplicably despite having a roster full of oft-injured players, the Chargers coaching staff opted to play their starters deep into the second half of a meaningless game last week. Needless to say, that didn’t go great. There is a good chance they will once again be without star wide receiver Mike Williams who suffered another back injury in the season finale. An injury that could have a significant impact on this game.

This should be a shootout as neither defense is particularly good. The Jags rank 24th in the league in yards and the Chargers 20th. However, when it comes to points per game the Jags actually rank 12th compared to LA at 22nd. The Jags also force more turnovers ranking fourth in the league with 27. The Chargers are much better against the pass ranking seventh in the league and the Jags are 28th with those numbers almost flipping against the run. Jacksonville ranks 12th against the run and the Chargers 28th.

However, what this game ultimately comes down to for me is the quarterbacks and which one I trust more. In a big game like this, the answer is Trevor Lawrence for me. He has hit a switch in the second half of this season and is becoming one of the best QBs in the league. Herbert to me is still a stat compiler that I lack faith in when the chips are down. We’ve seen Lawrence excel in massive games throughout his college career and we’ve seen Herbert wilt under pressure too many times. His interceptions in the fourth quarter this season double any other quarter on the year. He’s tough to trust in big situations.

The Picks

Spread: Jaguars +2 (-110)

Over/Under: Over 47.5 (-110)

Monneyline: Jaguars (+115)

Player Props of the Night

Prop #1: Austin Ekeler, Receiving Yards 29.5 (-195)

With Williams still not practicing and likely out in this game we should see more outlet passes to Ekeler. He should easily clear the bar of 29.5 yards. While the Jags are good against the run they actually have let up 750 receiving yards to running backs this season which is fourth-most in the league. Ekeler has cleared this bar in 12 of 17 games this season his last two. There is no reason to believe he won’t get at least 30 receiving yards in this game. If you want to play with the alternate yards he should be closer to 50 than 30.

According to our NFL Over/Under Prop Bet Rankings tool, Ekeler has hit on his over in receiving yards 60% of the time this season. There is no reason that number should drop in a top-four matchup with Williams likely out or limited.  

Prop #2: Justin Herbert, 0.5 Interceptions (+110)

This comes back down to me having little faith in Herbert not making a crucial mistake in this game. Jacksonville has 14 interceptions on the season and the defense has been hot when it comes to making big plays during their current winning streak. Rayshawn Jenkins is the player to watch on the Jags’ defense. He has been playing out of his mind and has catapulted himself into a different level of star over the back half of this season.

Prop #3: Keenan Allen, 6.5 Receptions (-130)

Allen is another beneficiary of Williams being either sidelined or limited. When Williams is out Allen gets peppered with targets. He will serve as the Chargers’ primary weapon and their chain mover. This is a number he has topped in four of his last five games and that was with Williams on the field. He has seen double-digit targets in four of his last six games so it would be a shock to see that number come down this week in a plus matchup.

According to our NFL Over/Under Prop Bet Rankings tool, Allen has hit his mark in receptions 57% of the time this season. That number climbs to 67% on the road. This is a number he should be close to in the first half.

Fantasy SP has worked diligently to bring you next-level sports betting analytics, prop betting tools, public betting splits, and so much more! Become an Edge+ member today! 

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