1. The Jaguars have a nasty history vs the Chargers
The Jaguars have never won a game in San Diego. Blake Bortles has lost both career games against the Chargers. The Jaguars are 2-10 all time when playing on the West Coast. Phillip Rivers is 5-1 all time against the Jags. None of these figures should give Jaguars fans confidence, but what should give them confidence is the Jaguars roster. This is not the same team that lost to the Chargers the last three years and it's not the same defense that Phillip Rivers has torched his entire career. But it's still a West Coast game and a tough test for a Jaguars team that doesn't yet know how to win games.
2. Injuries will be a factor
Chris Ivory won't play for the second consecutive week after falling ill late last week. He'll likely return for the Jaguars third game, but his services would have been a major help for the Jaguars who struggled to establish a presence on the ground in week 1. Prince Amukamara is also out for this one with a hamstring. Prince was one of the most impressive Jaguars defenders this offseason and in the first game of the season against the Packers, where he lined up against the likes of Jordy Nelson and more than held his own. Jermey Parnell is questionable which could spell trouble for a Jaguars offensive line that is looking to establish continuity. Finally Dante Fowler was sick earlier this week, but it appears he will be good to go on Sunday. The bottom line is this team has suffered several key injuries over the last week or so. None of them appear to be major, but the loss of Ivory, Amukamara, and perhaps Parnell is a major blow to a team that desperately needs to win a game in an environment that they've never had success in.
3. The Jaguars offense must be balanced
The Jaguars have never won a game when Blake Bortles has thrown for 300+ yards. Yep, that's right -- the Jags are 0-8 when the B5 Bomber throws for over 300 yards. This doesn't mean it isn't good for the Jaguars to air it out, because it definitely is. What it does mean is that the Jaguars must find balance. In the 8 games the Bortles has thrown for over 300 yards the Jaguars rushing attack eclipsed the 100 yard mark only once. The team has averaged just over 75 yards per game on the ground when Bortles has thrown for 300+. An average of 75 yards per game on the ground would be the worst in the NFL by over 8 yards per game over a season long span. So what does that mean? Well, it means that a lot of the times that Bortles has thrown for 300+ yards the Jaguars have been fighting to come from behind, which makes it tough to run the ball, but it also means that when the Jaguars can't run the ball effectively Bortles is forced to throw it all day, which can lead to short drives, turnovers, and a tired Jaguars defense. So, the Jaguars must find a way to be effective on the ground this week or they could be in for another loss on the West Coast and an 0-2 start to 2016. It'll be no easy task for a Jaguars rushing attack that is missing it's best player Chris Ivory.
4. The Allens must score
In 2015 Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns combined to average 9 catches, 152 yards, and 1.5 TDs per game. In week one against the Packers the catches (10) were there and so were the yards (147), but neither Allen was able to score despite several targets in the end zone. 3 of the Jaguars 5 victories in 2015 came when both Robinson and Hurns were able to find the end zone in the same game. This dynamic duo will need to find the end zone once or twice for the Jaguars to have a legitimate shot at winning this one. For a Jaguars team that won only 5 games in 2015, their win percentage jumped to .500 when the Allens both found the end zone. If both guys can get a TD in this one, the Jaguars will have a much higher chance of winning.
5. The Jaguars defense must get pressure on Rivers
Phillip Rivers has literally eaten the Jaguars defense alive throughout his career. Ok, maybe not literally, but he has had some huge performances when lining up against the Jags. Rivers is 5-1 against the Jaguars all time, losing in only his first appearance against the team nearly 10 years ago. All Rivers has done against the Jaguars defense is averaged 317 yards through the air, a 72.5 completion percentage, and 2.5 touchdowns per game. Rivers is incredibly effective when given a clean pocket and is even able to manipulate a collapsing pocket to his advantage, but what he can't do is run away from you. Rivers will most likely be a hall of famer, and is one of the smartest, toughest quarterbacks in the game right now, but if the Jaguars can create chaos in the pocket, then they'll have a shot at slowing down a quarterback who has had several near perfect outings against the Jaguars in the past. The entire defensive front will need to be active in this one for the Jags to have a shot.
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