Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Denver. Denver Broncos won 23-20. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Los Angeles Chargers fans watch during the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Sam Acho, left, forces a fumble as he sacks Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack sits on the bench late in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. The Titans won 42-20. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Close losses have defined the Los Angeles Chargers' season. The Jacksonville Jaguars would take one of those right now.
The Jaguars (4-8) have been blown out in four straight, trailing by as many as 25, 32, 24 and 23 points in lopsided affairs that crushed the team's playoffs hopes and turned the final month of the season into an endless debate about the futures of coach Doug Marrone, personnel chief Tom Coughlin, general manager Dave Caldwell and quarterback Nick Foles.
Jacksonville will try to end the skid Sunday at home against the Chargers (4-8), who have dropped three in a row. Each of those losses - just like the previous five - was by seven points or less.
''It's been tough,'' said Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who turns 38 on Sunday. ''Obviously, to be on the losing end of eight one-score games is tough. ... It has been a tough go, but we have the fourth quarter (of the season) left. We can only control what we have left.''
Rivers has played a huge role in LA's problems. The veteran has 17 turnovers, including the second-most interceptions (15) in the league.
But he could find refuge against Jacksonville, a team he's tormented over the years. Rivers has thrown for 2,354 yards and 21 touchdowns in eight career starts against the Jaguars. He has 13 TD passes and an interception in his last four against Jacksonville.
''He's a guy that if you make the small mistakes or if you're half a yard off your assignment, he's going to make you pay for it,'' Jaguars defensive tackle Abry Jones said. ''He's a guy that likes to talk a lot of trash and is always willing to back it up. I don't want to hear him talk all day, so we're going to have to go out there defensively and do our job.''
What kind of smack?
''Very wholesome, Godly talk,'' Jones added. ''Very impressive. I don't think I can go that long without cussing.''
The Jaguars have given fans reason to swear in recent weeks. The offensive line is a mess. The tight end situation is even worse. The defense can't stop the run and could be down four starters from the opener. Teammates had to be separated in the locker room following last week's home loss to Tampa Bay.
Maybe rookie sensation Gardner Minshew will fix everything.
Marrone benched Foles after three lackluster starts - he had twice as many turnovers (four) as touchdowns and was sacked eight times in 10 quarters - and switched back to Minshew for the remainder of the season. Minshew is considerably more mobile than Foles and is at his best while improvising. He has 14 touchdown passes and five interceptions, but also has lost seven of his 12 fumbles.
''He has done some really good things for a rookie,'' Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. ''It just seems like that team is inspired by him when he comes in the game. ... It's not fluff. If you watch the tape, the guy makes plays. He extends plays, he's creative. He throws with some accuracy and he runs; he's mobile.''
Here are some other things to know about the Chargers and Jaguars:
Former Jaguars coach Gus Bradley returns to Jacksonville for the second time in three seasons as the Chargers' defensive coordinator. Bradley still has a home and plenty of friends in Jacksonville. Marrone, defensive coordinator Todd Wash, tight ends coach Ron Middleton and assistant special teams coordinator Mike Mallory all worked under Bradley, who lost in overtime his first game back two years ago.
The Chargers are allowing a league-low 259 yards from scrimmage since Week 6, but they are 0-2 against rookie quarterbacks. Pittsburgh's Devlin Hodges and Denver's Drew Lock won their first NFL starts against Los Angeles. Next rookie up: Minshew.
END ZONE WATCH
Chargers reciever Mike Williams, who has at least one reception of 40 or more yards in five consecutive games, is still looking for his first touchdown of the season. It's an odd drought considering he had 11 touchdowns (10 receiving, one rushing) last year.
Marrone pretty much discovered Chargers veteran linebacker Thomas Davis. Marrone was Georgia's offensive line coach in 2000 when he was tasked with scouting a quarterback/free safety at Randolph Clay High in Cuthbert, Georgia. Marrone watched him play, invited him to camps, met his parents and ended up getting a commitment.
''You don't realize what they're going to be, but Thomas is a story that's one I'll always look back on and be really appreciative of, knowing how hard he's worked and what happened and how he's changed everything,'' said Marrone, who ended up leaving for Tennessee before Davis signed with the Bulldogs.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (ankle) was a full participant in Thursdays practice and should be fine for Sundays NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Kittle scared Niner Nation with soreness on the left ankle he chipped earlier this year, but confirms he feels fabulous. Kittle factored more as a blocker in last Sundays Divisional Round blowout but the Niners passed just 19 times. The All-Pro is an integral piece in all facets of the offense so is worth his premium TE1 price in DFS on Sunday.
Detroit Lions WR Danny Amendola is set to become an unrestricted free agent, but he's a 'prime candidate' to be re-signed, in the opinion of The Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett.
Free-agent WR Antonio Callaway (Browns) signed with the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL Thursday, Jan. 16.
Kansas City Chiefs RB LeSean McCoy (illness) remained out of practice Thursday, Jan. 16.
Fantasy Spin: McCoy played just one offensive snap in last week's Divisional Round game against the Houston Texans. He's clearly behind RB Damien Williams and is no longer worth starting.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Matt Moore (illness) and DT Chris Jones (calf) didn't participate in practice Thursday, Jan. 16. DT Khalen Saunders (knee), CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder), CB Kendall Fuller (knee), DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (neck), C Austin Reiter (wrist) and G Andrew Wylie (ankle) practiced in full.
Green Bay Packers DL Kenny Clark (back), TE Marcedes Lewis (non-injury), LB Preston Smith (ankle), FB Danny Vitale (knee) and CB Tramon Williams (non-injury) were limited participants in practice Thursday, Jan. 16. S Adrian Amos (chest), OT Bryan Bulaga (non-injury), WR Ryan Grant (non-injury), LB Blake Martinez (hand) and OL Billy Turner (ankle) practiced in full.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee) remained limited at practice Thursday, Jan. 16.
Fantasy Spin: Kelce earned a light practice week while catching 10 of 12 targets for 134 yards and three touchdowns against the Houston Texans in the Divisional Round. He's the week's top tight end option once against this week so long as he takes the field.
Tennessee Titans LB Jayon Brown (shoulder), LB Rashaan Evans (foot), WR Adam Humphries (ankle), CB Adoree' Jackson (foot), WR Cody Hollister (ankle) and OT Jack Conklin (shoulder) were limited in practice Thursday, Jan. 16. CB Logan Ryan (illness) and LB David Long Jr. (knee) participated in full.
Green Bay Packers WR Geronimo Allison (illness) was limited in practice Thursday, Jan. 16.
Fantasy Spin: It's an upgrade for Allison after he missed Wednesday's practice. He's likely to be limited for much of the week but should ultimately suit up for Sunday, Jan. 19's NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers. He made just one catch for 11 yards last week against the Seattle Seahawks and isn't worth much more than a desperation flier.
Green Bay Packers TE Jimmy Graham (non-injury) was a limited participant in practice Thursday, Jan. 16.
Fantasy Spin: Graham has caught seven of 11 total targets across his last two games, recording 49 receiving yards in each game. He hasn't found the end zone since Week 7 and doesn't possess much touchdown upside, but the Packers have few better options in the passing game outside of WR Davante Adams. He could be a sneaky play at a thin position.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (elbow) practiced in full Thursday, Jan. 16.
Fantasy Spin: It's Coleman's second straight full practice, and he should be good to go for the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Jan. 19. He's coming off one of his best games of the season, and he'll be worth starting once again in all formats.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert (calf) was a full participant in practice Thursday, Jan. 16.
Fantasy Spin: Mostert's on track to play in the NFC Championship Sunday, Jan. 19. He took a back seat to RB Tevin Coleman in the Divisional Round game against the Minnesota Vikings, but he was still able to rack up 58 yards and 12 carries. He's worth starting, but Coleman should be viewed as the better option.
San Francisco 49ers LB Kwon Alexander (pectoral) and DL Dee Ford (quadriceps, hamstring) were limited in practice Thursday, Jan. 16.
Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) had his relationship with agent Drew Rosenhaus conditionally terminated Thursday, Jan. 16, until the wide receiver seeks counseling, per a source.
Fantasy Spin: While the talent remains alluring, it's become clear Brown is going to have to make some personal changes before he gets a chance to play again the league.
San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle (ankle) was a full participant in practice Thursday, Jan. 16, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Fantasy Spin: Great news for Kittle after he sat out Wednesday's workouts with the nagging ankle injury. Unless we hear of any kind of setback later this week, count on him being good to go for Sunday afternoon's NFC title tilt.
Updating previous reports, Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald's one-year contract for 2020 will include a base salary of $11 million and will have $500,000 in roster bonuses and $250,000 in incentives.
Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. is the subject of a simple battery arrest warrant issued by the New Orleans Police Department after Beckham appeared to slap a police officer's buttocks in the LSU locker room Monday, Jan. 13 following the College Football Playoff championship game.
Fantasy Spin: While this isn't the most serious of incidents, OBJ continues to make more headlines off the field than on it following his disappointing 2019 debut with the Browns (74 catches-1,035 yards-4 TDs). And if the trend continues, will the new Browns regime say enough is enough for a player brought in by the previous administration?
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has been accused of simple battery after an incident in the locker room following LSU's national championship win over Clemson on Monday night. Beckham was caught on video spanking a police officer on the backside during the post-game locker room celebration. New Orleans police have issued a warrant for Beckham's arrest following the incident. The Browns have since released a statement that they are aware of the issue and that they have been in contact with Beckham and his representatives. This is the second issue to stem from Beckham's attendance at the game on Monday night as he was also caught on camera apparently handing money to LSU players on the field after the win. Neither situation is likely to impact Beckham from a fantasy perspective but it's just another issue for the Browns organization to contend with this offseason.
Tennessee Titans CB Logan Ryan (illness) is expected to return to practice Thursday, Jan. 16, after sitting out the previous day with an illness.
Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry rushed 23 times for 188 yards and two scores in Week 10 against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Titans will take on the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 19.
Fantasy Spin: The Titans won that game 35-32 in Patrick Mahomes' first game back from his knee injury. The Chiefs could neutralize him by scoring early and often, but Mahomes threw for 446 yards and three scores, and the Titans remained in it. Henry is arguably the best running back in fantasy remaining in the playoffs.