We have non-conference National Football League action to consider for Sunday afternoon when the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Cincinnati Bengals. The Chargers missed the playoffs last season with a 5-11 record and will begin the 2020 campaign with a new starting quarterback. The Bengals had the worst record in football, drafted quarterback Joe Burrow, and look poised to make a run at the AFC North heavyweights.
This will be the fourth opening day contest between the two football teams and there won’t be any fans at Paul Brown Stadium. This should be a great game between rebuilding teams.
Taylor Starts At QuarterbackThe Chargers made some moves in the offseason and one of those moves was allowing quarterback Philip Rivers to take his big arm to Indianapolis. Los Angeles intends on starting Tyrod Taylor behind center and he didn’t play much last season but his career numbers are decent; he’s thrown for over 9500 yards with 54 touchdowns and twenty interceptions. Taylor has also rushed for 1843 yards on 336 attempts including 16 touchdowns so it isn’t like they are starting a rookie.
Pro Football Focus ranks the Chargers offensive line thirtieth in the league. They added Trai Turner and Bryan Bulaga to an offensive line that allowed just 34 sacks last season but the O-Line is still a work in progress.
Taylor will have Keenan Allen returning and he’s coming off a 104 reception, six-touchdown, 1199 yard type of season. Second-year wideout Jason Moore returns from a pedestrian rookie role and should see plenty of targets. Tight end Hunter Henry was given the franchise tag and is coming off a 55 reception, five-touchdown season and the Bolts are expecting big things from this trio.
Running back Austin Ekeler is coming off a 557 yard, three-touchdown rushing season as Melvin Gordon’s primary backup but with Melvin Gordon moving onto Denver, Ekeler will be the number one back. Justin Jackson returns from a 200 yard rushing season and figures to play a more defined role this season.
The Chargers' strength last season was the defense and it will be that way again in 2020. Los Angeles was sixth in yards allowed and fifth in passing yards allowed and it’s safe to say that the defense will be relied upon to win games.
The Burrows Era BeginsThe Bengals had a disappointing 2019 season but they decided to part ways with quarterback Andy Dalton and drafted LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. The Heisman Trophy winner and National Champion is from the state of Ohio and he’s already become a fan favorite. He’ll be the only rookie opening day starting quarterback and if things don’t go the way they are supposed to go, second-year quarterback Ryan Finley is slated to be Burrows backup.
Pro Football Focus ranks the Bengals offensive line thirty-first in the NFL and this line is a work in progress. Jonah Williams missed most of last season and he will be looked upon to lead an offensive line that allowed 34 sacks last season.
A.J. Green appears to be healthy and should be Burrow's number one option. Green missed the entire 2019 season and has 8907 receiving yards with 63 touchdowns over his career. John Ross III is coming off of a 506 receiving yards, three-touchdown season, and Tyler Boyd hauled in 90 passes for 1046 yards with five touchdowns last season, giving Burrows a talented corps. Tight end C.J. Uzomah is slated to start and caught 27 balls for a pair of touchdowns last season.
The defense finished 2019 twenty-ninth overall and thirsty-second against the pass and the Bengals went out and retooled their defense. Defensive lineman Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins return to anchor the defensive line and Cincinnati has four newcomers and this will be an interesting season for the defense.
- Bengals are 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 games in Week 1.
- Bengals are 33-16-2 ATS in their last 51 games in September.
- Chargers are 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
- Chargers are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games as a favorite.
- Chargers are 1-6-2 ATS in their last 9 vs. AFC.