The Jacksonville Jaguars haven’t won more than five games in a season since going 8-8 in 2010 and the rising squad looks for win No. 6 this year when it hosts the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. Standout rookie running back Leonard Fournette will be back on the field for Jacksonville after serving a one-game suspension for violating a team rule.
Fournette is sixth in the NFL with 596 rushing yards despite missing last Sunday’s victory over Cincinnati, and the former LSU star said he is moving forward. “I did my time, did my punishment, and now it’s on to the L.A. Chargers,” Fournette told reporters. “It was a misunderstanding, that’s all. I have to do a better job of communicating with Coach Doug (Marrone). We’ve moved on.” The Chargers had a bye last week and can’t afford to drop three games below .500 if they want to remain a viable AFC playoff contender. “We can all see we have an eight-game season left,” Los Angeles quarterback Philip Rivers told reporters. “We have this third quarter (of the season) ahead of us, starting in Jacksonville. If we keep trending the right way, we can find ourselves right in the mix as we get to December.”
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Jaguars -3.5. O/U: 41
ABOUT THE CHARGERS (3-5): Rivers has thrown 11 touchdown passes without an interception in his last three contests against the Jaguars, prompting Marrone to say, “He has played as well against us as any player ever has against this team.” Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley was fired as Jacksonville’s coach last December with a 14-48 record and he certainly will have his unit (seventh in scoring defense at 19 points per game) ready for this contest. Star pass rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram each have recorded 8.5 sacks while cornerback Casey Hayward intercepted two passes in last season’s win over Jacksonville.
ABOUT THE JAGUARS (5-3): The defensive unit has fueled Jacksonville’s sudden rise from bottom-feeder to playoff contender as it leads the NFL in scoring defense (14.6 points) and passing defense (156.4 yards) and ranks third in total defense (281.3). Calais Campbell already has recorded a career-best 11 sacks - the top total in the NFL - and fellow defensive ends Yannick Ngakoue (6.5) and Dante Fowler Jr. (5.5) also are enjoying solid campaigns. Quarterback Blake Bortles has thrown twice as many touchdown passes as interceptions (10 and 5) after averaging 17 picks over his first three campaigns.
1. The Chargers have won the last six meetings, including a 38-14 victory last season.
2. Jacksonville WR Marqise Lee (knee/ribs), who registered a career-best eight receptions and his first touchdown of the season last Sunday against Cincinnati, is expected to play.
3. Los Angeles LB Denzel Perryman (ankle) will make his season debut after being injured in a preseason game.
PREDICTION: Jaguars 24, Chargers 19