Monday, December 5, 2011

I Ching Week 13 NFL Picks: Monday Night Football

Chargers @ Jaguars +2.5
Hexagram 53: Gradual Progress. One of these teams fired their head coach last week, and are thus headed in the right direction, while the other is holding on to a coach no one expects to be there next year and is going nowhere this year. The Chargers are on a six game losing streak, their quarterback Phillip Rivers has had the worst year of his career posting his lowest quarterback rating since his sophomore season in which he played two games, and only two starters from opening day remain on the offensive line. The most pessimistic Bolt fan could never have foreseen so many things going wrong all at once.
It’s hard to find a lot more to like about the three win Jaguars, but they do have a few things going in their favor. The Chargers defense is much worse against the run than against the pass, 26th in the league vs. 7th, and Jacksonville running back  Maurice Jones-Drew is already over 1,000 yards for the season. Also, interim coach Mel Tucker has led a surprisingly good defense all year and will want to make a good impression toward future gigs during his first stint as a head coach. His practices have been about 17 minutes shorter than fired coach Jack Del Rio’s were, but are reportedly much more fast paced and full of Tucker’s contagious enthusiasm. I think a game similar to the last Monday night game the Jaguars hosted, their 12-7 win over the Ravens on October 24th is likely.
One matchup that will play a large part in deciding this outcome is Phillip Rivers against the Jaguars’ cornerbacks. The Jaguars are ranked 3rd in the league in shutting down the pass and the play of their secondary has been a huge part of it. However, the top three corners on the depth chart have been sent to the injured reserve list over the past three weeks. Their replacements, especially Ashton Youboty, have performed admirably so far, but have yet to be tested against good competition thus far. If Rivers can get it going over this over-achieving but depleted unit, then the Chargers will have a chance to get a big win for their confidence on the road, but I’d bet against it.

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