10am PT Kickoff
Here's what I wrote on Sept. 20, 2013:
It has been statistically proven that teams in Pacific Time Zone have a distinct disadvantage when playing road games in the Eastern Time Zone. Going against the AFC South and NFC East this season means plenty of early games in the Eastern time zone for the 2013 San Diego Chargers. This will be the first of two instances this year where the Bolts will have to play 10 a.m. PT games in the Eastern time zone in consecutive weeks.
Make no mistake about it, the Chargers could be significantly better than the Tennessee Titans and it would still be surprising if they won simply because it would mean that they won back-to-back games in the Eastern time zone.
The Chargers didn't play an early game last week. Quite the opposite in fact. They set their schedule to prepare their bodies for a very late start, 5:30pm PT on Monday night, and now have to deal with a short week to recover, resetting their body clocks to be ready for a 10am start, and a cross-country flight in the middle of all of it.
While the Jacksonville Jaguars have been a very bad team this year, most teams don't lose 16 games. The conditions are set up in their favor for their players to be more rested, and more ready, at the start of Sunday's game.
A team that's getting better
We are working under the assumption that the 2013 Chargers will get better as the season goes along. That's just how things go with the first-year Head Coach, right? It takes a full year for everyone to buy in and learn the playbook, and a full year for the coaches to figure out the right mix of players on the field to run those plays.
Well, the Jaguars have been better in the second quarter of the season than they were in the first. They were within seven points of the Rams halfway through the fourth quarter two weeks ago and were within two points of the Broncos halfway through the third quarter last week. Both of those were road games, with the crowd working against Jacksonville late in the game.
Gus Bradley's defense is only getting slightly better, but the offense is where they've seen the biggest improvement... and there are more reserves coming. Take a look at this:
Maurice Jones-Drew (gms 1-4): 57 carries, 138 rush yds (2.4 ypc), 1 rush TD, 4 catches, 24 rec yds
Maurice Jones-Drew (gms 5-6): 37 carries, 141 rush yds (3.8 ypc), 1 rush TD, 4 catches, 19 rec yds
That's right, MJD's output has doubled since Chad Henne took over as the Jags starting QB over Blaine Gabbert (who is "injured") and since LT Eugene Monroe was traded to the Ravens and replaced with Cameron Bradfield.
In addition, Jacksonville has been without their starting tight end Marcedes Lewis all season. He is expected to play against the Chargers on Sunday, and the former Pro Bowler should be ready to have a lot of balls thrown his way. His replacement, Clay Harbor, is a solid run blocker but isn't much of a receiver.
Also, when looking at the Jaguars record, don't discount just how much traveling they've done this season. In the first six weeks they have traveled to Oakland, Seattle, St. Louis and Denver. Sunday's game against the Chargers marks the first of two consecutive home games (for the first time this season) for the Jags, which is then followed by a bye. This is a team in need of "home cooking" that's now getting a ton of it.
The 2013 San Diego Chargers have yet to win consecutive games, or lose consecutive games. They have lost to every team that they were expected to beat, and defeated every team that they were expected to lose to (except the Texans). They might be the least predictable team in the entire league, if you don't buy into the thought process of predicting the opposite of what logic dictates.
A big win against the Eagles was followed up by a shocking loss to the Titans on the road. A big win against the Cowboys was followed by a shocking loss to the Raiders on the road. If we're looking for patterns to show us what will happen in the future, the Chargers big win against the Colts should be followed up with a shocking loss to the Jaguars on the road.