In the first week of the regular season, the Los Angeles Chargers will go on the road and take on the Washington Football Team at FedEx Field. Los Angeles missed the playoffs last season with a 7-9 record. Washington won the NFC East division last season with a 7-9 record.
Chargers Dangerous on Offense and DefenseJustin Herbert enters his second season after setting the league on fire in his rookie campaign. He threw for 4,336 yards, 31 TDs, and completed 66.6% of his passes in 15 games last year. He averaged 289.1 passing yards per game. Herbert won rookie of the year. He will be behind a new offensive line. Four out of five players on the offensive line are new faces. The Chargers drafted OT Rashawn Slater with their 13th pick in the first round of the draft. Bucky Brooks states “As a polished technician with five-position flexibility, Slater is a plug-and-play prospect with all-star potential as a starter. The Northwestern standout checks off all the boxes and should spend a decade playing at an All-Pro level on the edge.” An upgrade at offensive line will just help Herbert even more. Austin Ekeler did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday due to a hamstring injury. The Chargers are still optimistic he will play against Washington but his status will need to be monitored.
Brandon Staley is the new head coach for the Chargers. He was the defensive coordinator for the Rams last season. Staley helped lead the Rams defense to first in points and total yards allowed. Joey Bosa has only played a full season twice in five years. When he has been on the field, he has been one of the best pass rushers in the league. His 22.0% pass-rush win rate since entering the league in 2016 is second to only Aaron Donald (23.4%). Safety Derwin James is another player who cannot stay healthy. He has played five total games since 2019. If healthy, the Chargers have a talented defense and a good defensive-minded head coach.
Washington Defense a ForceRyan Fitzpatrick will be the new starting QB for Washington. Fitzpatrick has been inconsistent throughout his career but he is in a position to succeed in this offense. He has a good rushing attack with Antonio Gibson leading the way. Gibson had a solid rookie season, rushing for 795 yards on 170 attempts in 14 games. JP Finlay reports Washington QB Kyle Allen said the team is “trying to push Antonio Gibson into a similar role as Christian McCaffrey’s in Carolina.” Washington has two solid WRs as well, with Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel. McLaurin had 87 catches for 1,118 yards last season with poor QB play. Samuel was signed in free agency and is a good number two behind McLaurin. Unfortunately, Samuel got injured in practice on Wednesday and did not practice on Thursday. Samuel will be out for the first three weeks at least, as Washington has put him on IR.
WFT coach Ron Rivera announced that WR Curtis Samuel (groin) is going on short-term IR.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 10, 2021
Washington’s defense was lights out last year and looks very good again this year. Pro Football Focus ranks Washington as having the second-best defensive line in the NFL entering the season. Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Montez Sweat, and Chase Young all look to be impact starters through the early stages of their NFL careers. It’s not just upfront Washington is stacked on defense. Pro Football Focus ranks their secondary as the 11th best in the NFL. They added William Jackson III in free agency, which will further bolster their secondary. It is very possible Washington ends up with the best defense in the league this season.
- Football Team are 5-1 ATS in their last six games as an underdog
- Home team is 3-1-1 ATS in their last five meetings
- Chargers are 1-4 in their last five games against an opponent in the National Football Conference