Chargers vs. Washington Odds, Week 1 NFL Predictions, Pick: How To Live Bet Sunday’s Game
Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert.
Chargers vs. Washington Odds
|Chargers Odds||+1.5 (-110)|
|Washington Odds||-1.5 (-110)|
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Check real-time NFL odds here.|
Ryan Fitzpatrick leads an improved Washington offense against a young, up-and-coming Chargers team. Will Los Angeles overcome the fearsome WFT front four with their talented wide receiver corps? Or will Chase Young and friends ruin Brandon Staley’s head coaching debut?
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers begin the season as one of the higher variance teams due to turnover on both sides of the ball and a young coaching staff. New head coach Brandon Staley may only have one year of experience as a coordinator, but his press conferences are encouraging when it comes to making good decisions. Former coach Anthony Lynn made a ton of head-scratching decisions last season that cost L.A. games; this seems like a definite upgrade.
Justin Herbert and the Chargers WRs are primed for another solid season. Herbert finished around 10th in both DVOA and EPA/play, and we know that Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are good for Week 1.
However, things could go sideways in Washington with the revamped OL — this unit was pretty bad last season, and while they added all-world C Corey Linsley, starting the year with four new linemen against the WFT’s defensive line is troublesome. Rookie LT Rashawn Slater’s welcome-to-the-NFL party includes Chase Young and Montez Sweat — a very tall task.
We don’t know how good this L.A. O-line will be — an average performance from them would be more than enough for the Chargers’ passing game to put up points. That being said, it’s hard to trust that this much O-line turnover will gel right out of the gate.
The Chargers defense also has some question marks beyond DE Joey Bosa. What will Staley do schematically? He ran exclusively two-high deep zones with the Rams, which normally would hurt a defense against the run. However, he had maybe the best defensive lineman in football in Aaron Donald, a one-man wrecking crew in the middle of the defense.
No such player exists on the Chargers defense. Their secondary has some decent pieces, including S Derwin James and CB Michael Davis, but questions persist. Second-round pick Asante Samuel Jr. will start at cornerback, a traditionally sink or swim position for rookies.
Washington Football Team
The handicap for WFT starts with new quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. While Alex Smith’s story was awesome, last year’s offense was a train-wreck; Washington ranked dead last in offensive DVOA, according to Football Outsiders, and 31st in passing EPA/play. The offense was uninspiring, dull and required perfection from the defense in order to compete in games.
Fitzpatrick has been nothing special over the course of his career, but he is certainly an upgrade over what Washington was working with last season. There are signs that point toward regression (mediocre performance in a clean pocket and unsustainable success under pressure), but even a worse version of Fitzpatrick is better than Smith. WFT also upgraded at WR with Curtis Samuel (will miss three weeks on IR with a groin injury) and rookie Dyami Brown.
Combined with a decent rushing attack, this offense should improve from 32nd to somewhere in the 20s, depending on Fitzpatricks’ performance. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where this team will land because of Fitzpatrick’s volatility. It is wise to tread lightly with an offense as high variance as this.
The WFT defense was the bright spot of the team last season as a result of their strong D-line play. Furthermore, the team added CB William Jackson and held onto S Landon Collins, boosting the secondary.
That being said, this team was somewhat of a paper tiger last year — when the competition got better, this defense struggled. In games against top half offenses, they gave up more than 30 PPG — the best QB they beat all season was Ben Roethlisberger. This unit should be good again, but a top-three DVOA finish will be hard to achieve.
At the end of the day, this game is extremely difficult to handicap due to the uncertainty surrounding three of the four units on the field. We don’t know what the Chargers defense will look like and how quickly Staley can coach them up. The Chargers offense has a lot of potential and is a unit I’m high on this season, but starting a rookie LT and three other new linemen is dicey against an elite D-line.
On the flip side, the WFT offense, while improved from 2020, still relies on a veteran out-performing his career track record. Even the WFT defensive regression is hard to pinpoint, given how easy their 2020 schedule was.
I think the current market odds fairly reflect what we know about these teams. We may look back in a few weeks and wonder why L.A. was a small dog in this spot if the O-line gels and Staley works his magic. Maybe the total is a few points too low if Fitzpatrick is playing at his 2020 levels and league-wide scoring remains high.
One live and second half angle I’m looking for is to bet WFT if they are down. The Chargers may struggle to put games away on the ground this season given their weak rushing attack; WFT has a strong run defense as well.
As a result, Fitzpatrick may be able to backdoor yet another game, albeit this time with a juicier live number.
Pick: WFT 2H/Live if trailing