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FFL: Playoff Week 8 | NFL: Superbowl

Chargers-Jaguars Preview

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Players: Philip Rivers, Nick Foles, Devlin Hodges, Gardner Minshew II, Drew Lock

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:

BRADLEY RETURNS

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.

ROOKIE STRUGGLES

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.

CROSSING PATHS

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.

Player Notes
George Kittle Jan 27 6:00pm ET

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (shoulder) said that he's been playing through a torn labrum in his right shoulder since the start of the 2018 season. "So I dislocated my shoulder last year," Kittle said Sunday on the Pardon My Take podcast, "and my labrum is completely torn. So I don't get surgery on it -- [The protective sleeve] basically helps me, so it doesn't hurt all the time." He didn't miss any games in 2018 and set the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end with 1,377. Kittle said there's "no chance" he has surgery in the future. The 26-year-old has been quiet in the postseason with four catches for 35 yards in two games, but the Niners haven't really needed him with their ground game humming. That could change in the Super Bowl against the Chiefs on Feb. 2.

From RotoBaller

Kareem Hunt Jan 27 3:20pm ET

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt, who will be a free agent in March, emotionally admitted that he would fail a drug test to a police officer during a traffic stop recently. This was caught on video of the police officer's dash cam during the traffic stop. Hunt also admitted that the small amounts of marijuana found in the car were his, but the officer let Hunt off with just the speeding ticket. It remains to be seen if the NFL will consider a suspension for the 24-year-old from this incident. Hunt was released by the Chiefs during the 2018 season due to a domestic-violence incident, and he served a suspension before making his Browns debut in 2019. If he signs with another team this offseason and is given bell-cow duties in the backfield, Hunt could have RB1 upside.

From RotoBaller

Philip Rivers Jan 27 3:00pm ET

The Los Angeles Chargers have "moved on from Philip Rivers," according to FOX Sports' Jay Glazer. Rivers is set to become a free agent in March, and the writing was on the wall when he recently moved his entire family from San Diego to Florida. Rivers will end a 16-year run with the Chargers, but it remains to be seen where he'll land on the free-agent market this offseason. The Buccaneers are a popular expected destination, but that'll only be if they move on from Jameis Winston. Rivers completed 66 percent of his passes for 4,615 yards, 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 2019 for a QB rating of 88.5. He might have a few more seasons left in him, but at 38 years old his arm strength is clearly deteriorating, and he'll probably be more of a QB2 in 2020, depending on where he winds up.

From RotoBaller

Frank Clark Jan 27 12:30pm ET

Baltimore Ravens defensive end Matthew Judon is a candidate to receive the team's franchise tag and could also be traded, according to league sources. The Ravens would like to bring Judon back in 2020, but they are also likely to listen to trade offers if another team shows interest. The Niners dealt a second-round pick to the Chiefs last year for defensive end Dee Ford, who then signed a five-year deal worth up to $87.5 million last March. The Chiefs also traded first- and third-round picks to the Seahawks last April for defensive end Frank Clark, who then signed a five-year, $105.5 million deal. Judon has emerged as a high-end pass rusher with at least seven sacks in each of the last three years. The 27-year-old had a career-high 9.5 sacks in 2019 and was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time.

From RotoBaller

Fletcher Cox Jan 26 6:43pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles DT Fletcher Cox was credited with a 61-yard interception return for touchdown at the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26.

From TheHuddle

Jack Doyle Jan 26 6:33pm ET

Indianapolis Colts TE Jack Doyle posted three catches for 63 yards and a touchdown on four targets for the AFC at the Pro Bowl Sunday, Jan. 26.

From TheHuddle

T.J. Watt Jan 26 6:33pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers DE T.J. Watt posted an 82-yard fumble return for touchdown in the fourth quarter for the AFC at the Pro Bowl in Orlando on Sunday, Jan. 26.

From TheHuddle

Mark Andrews Jan 26 6:23pm ET

Baltimore Ravens TE Mark Andrews ended up with a game-high nine receptions for an AFC-best 73 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets at the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26.

From TheHuddle

D.J. Chark Jan 26 6:23pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars WR DJ Chark Jr. registered two grabs for 67 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown in the third quarter, for the AFC at the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26.

From TheHuddle

Davante Adams Jan 26 6:13pm ET

Green Bay Packers WR Davante Adams ended up with a team-high six receptions for 61 yards and two touchdowns on seven targets for the NFC at the Pro Bowl Sunday, Jan. 26.

From TheHuddle

Amari Cooper Jan 26 6:13pm ET

Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper finished with three grabs for 24 yards and a touchdown on seven targets for the NFC at the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26.

From TheHuddle

Kirk Cousins Jan 26 6:03pm ET

Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins completed 13-of-22 passes for 181 yards, two touchdowns and one interception at the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26

From TheHuddle

Michael Thomas Jan 26 6:03pm ET

New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas hauled in five receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown with a team-high eight targets at the Pro Bowl Sunday, Jan. 26.

From TheHuddle

Calais Campbell Jan 26 5:53pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars DE Calais Campbell had a solo tackle, a sack and a quarterback hit in the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26, winning the Defensive Most Valuable Player award.

From TheHuddle

Lamar Jackson Jan 26 5:53pm ET

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson completed 16-of-23 passes for 185 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for the AFC in the Pro Bowl, winning Offensive Most Valuable Player. He also ran twice for six yards in the 38-33 win.

From TheHuddle

Darren Fells Jan 26 2:13pm ET

Houston Texans impending free-agent TE Darren Fells is a player the Texans will try to re-sign this offseason, but he probably will receive interest from multiple teams in free agency.

From TheHuddle

A.J. McCarron Jan 26 2:13pm ET

Houston Texans impending free-agent QB AJ McCarron is a candidate to be re-signed this offseason, in the opinion of ESPN.com's Sarah Barshop.

From TheHuddle

C.J. Mosley Jan 26 1:00pm ET

New York Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley (groin), who is six weeks removed from groin/abdominal surgery, said he is jogging "a little bit" and is on track to take part in "spring football." Mosley has also started a vegan diet after playing in just two games last season because of his injury in his first year in New York. The 27-year-old should be ready for a full training camp heading into the 2020 season, and he should give Gang Green a steadying presence in the middle of the field next season. Mosley recorded 100-plus tackles in four of his five seasons in Baltimore before signing with the Jets in free agency last offseason.

From RotoBaller

Eric Berry Jan 26 1:00pm ET

Former Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry, who did not play at all in 2019, plans to play in 2020 after intentionally taking the season off to rest his body and mind. Berry was cut by the Chiefs in 2018 and has only played in three games since 2016 due to injuries and a bout with cancer. The former first-round pick in 2010 has 14 career interceptions and five touchdowns and could provide a team with a veteran presence in the secondary in 2020. However, it remains to be seen if any team will take a chance on the veteran moving forward. Berry is unlikely to be an asset in IDP leagues if he gets picked up by a team.

From RotoBaller

Drew Brees Jan 26 12:50pm ET

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who will become a free agent in March, said he is still waiting to decide if he will play a 20th season in the NFL. "Then, I'll kind of lay low for a little bit, get away and then assess. I kind of have a process in mind. And I'll give it a month or so," Brees said. If the 41-year-old does decide to return, it'll be for the Saints. General manager Mickey Loomis also said that the team would welcome him back if he decides to keep playing. Brees' arm strength is starting to deteriorate, but he still put up great numbers when he came back from a fractured thumb last season, and he should remain in play as a QB1 if he returns for the 2020 season.

From RotoBaller