Los Angeles Chargers vs. Washington Football Team Matchup Preview (9/12/21): Betting Odds, Depth Charts, Live Stream (Watch Online)
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Washington Football Team Matchup Preview (9/12/21)
Amidst a ton of great Week 1 matchups, this game may be slightly forgotten, but it shouldn’t be. These are two of the fastest ascending teams in the NFL and both should have strong chances to make it to the postseason. The Chargers’ Justin Herbert is coming off one of the best rookie seasons for a quarterback of all time while Washington’s Ryan Fitzpatrick will be starting for the ninth different team of his career. Despite the 15-year age gap between these two quarterbacks, both should be able to lead efficient offenses this season. This game will come down to which quarterback can do a better job protecting the football as both of these teams have ferocious defenses that know how to wreak havoc.
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Date: Sunday, September 12th
Time: 1:00 PM ET
Location: FedEx Field – Greater Landover, MD
TV Coverage: CBS
Chargers vs. Washington Live Stream
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Los Angeles Chargers: OT Bryan Bulaga (hip) Q, C Corey Linsley (foot) Q, OT Rashawn Slater (lower back) Q, WR Jalen Guyton (upper leg) Q, RB Austin Ekeler (hamstring) Q
Washington Football Team: LB Montez Sweat (illness) Q, WR Curtis Samuel (groin) Q
Los Angeles Chargers Analysis
Justin Herbert was just 22 years old as a rookie in the NFL, but the bright lights weren’t too much for him. I’m not sure even the Chargers were expecting such an elite level of production from him as Herbert finished top-12 in passing yards, touchdowns, and passer rating as a rookie. It’s going to be very exciting to see what he has in store as an encore to his brilliant rookie season, particularly with new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi calling the shots. Lombardi comes from the Saints who have had one of the top offenses in the NFL for several years now. Herbert will be thrown into the fire in the first game of his sophomore season against a stout defense in Washington.
The arrival of Joe Lombardi in Los Angeles perhaps is most beneficial to running back Austin Ekeler who is expected to be used in a similar fashion to how Lombardi utilized Alvin Kamara with the Saints. Ekeler had 92 catches for 993 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2019 and is one of the best pass-catching running backs in the NFL. He will also benefit from the completely remade offensive line in Los Angeles. Rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater, center Corey Linsley, the first-team All-Pro center from last season, and offensive guard Matt Feiler are all slated to be new starters on the offensive line. That offensive line will be put to the test in this game.
The remade offensive line will also afford Justin Herbert more time to spend in the pocket dissecting defenses. While he was a tremendous passer under pressure last season, some of that efficiency was set to be unsustainable; now, it doesn’t have to be replicated as he’ll have time in the pocket to find Keenan Allen and Mike Williams downfield. Joining those two receivers are Jalen Guyton and rookie Josh Palmer, both of whom know how to create separation downfield. Jared Cook takes over for Hunter Henry as the starting tight end, but at 34 years old he may not have a ton left in the tank. I’m excited to see what Donald Parham Jr. can do in this offense.
Defensively, the Chargers should be a whole lot better with new head coach Brandon Staley at the helm. Last season, Staley led the Rams to one of the best defenses in the NFL as they allowed the fewest points and the fewest yards per game. While Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey won’t be coming across the hall with Staley to the other Los Angeles team, the Chargers have plenty of defensive talent with Joey Bosa a dominant edge rusher, and Derwin James and Chris Harris Jr. a potent secondary duo. I’m hopeful that James can stay healthy this season and help the Chargers put together a more consistent year defensively.
Los Angeles Chargers Depth Chart
QB: Justin Herbert
RB1: Austin Ekeler
RB2: Justin Jackson
WR1: Keenan Allen
WR2: Mike Williams
WR3: Jalen Guyton
TE1: Jared Cook
TE2: Donald Parham Jr.
Washington Football Team Analysis
We’ve seen so many different iterations of Ryan Fitzpatrick over his 16-year career that it makes it difficult to know who we’re going to see in Washington. Will it be the steady game manager who led the Dolphins to a 9-11 record in the 20 games he started over the past two seasons? Or will it be the gunslinging quarterback who threw for 31 touchdowns in 2015? Or, will it be the guy who has often thrown for as many or more interceptions as touchdowns? That much remains to be seen, but I’m fairly confident in saying that Fitzpatrick is a significant upgrade over the middling quarterback play Washington got from Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins, and Kyle Allen last season.
Luckily for Fitzpatrick, he’s going to be supported by some great offensive weapons in Washington. Terry McLaurin has 145 catches for 2,037 yards and 11 touchdowns through his first two NFL seasons and will benefit from more consistency under center than he’s had in the NFL before. Antonio Gibson impressed as a rookie with over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and 11 rushing touchdowns and should have even more of a role this season. Curtis Samuel came over from Carolina to be the team’s #2 wideout after he caught 77 balls for 851 yards last season. Logan Thomas is coming off a career year at tight end with 72 catches for 670 yards and 6 touchdowns. With Adam Humphries, J.D. McKissic, and rookie Dyami Brown rounding out the roster, Washington is loaded with offensive talent.
The biggest question for Washington on offense will be its offensive line following the departures of left tackle Trent Williams and right tackle Morgan Moses over the past two years. Veteran Charles Leno Jr. will man the left tackle spot following his release from the Bears while rookie Samuel Cosmi is expected to be a Day 1 starter at right tackle. Cosmi has a lot of potential in the NFL, but he’s going to see a lot of Joey Bosa in this matchup, and that’s a scary proposition. The interior of the offensive line is very stout with Brandon Scherff, Chase Roullier, and Wes Schweitzer all returning.
The strength of the Washington team last year and the reason they won the NFC East was a dominant defense. Chase Young more than delivered as a rookie and he and Montez Sweat formed a ferocious pass-rush duo. Da’Ron Payne and Jonathan Allen are a studly interior defensive line tandem and the linebacker spot is also stacked, particularly with the addition of first-round rookie Jamin Davis. William Jackson III provides a high-upside replacement for Ronald Darby at cornerback and a healthy Landon Collins is massive as well.
Washington Football Team Depth Chart
QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick
RB1: Antonio Gibson
RB2: J.D. McKissic
WR1: Terry McLaurin
WR2: Curtis Samuel
WR3: Adam Humphries
TE1: Logan Thomas
TE2: Ricky Seals-Jones
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Washington Football Team Betting Corner
I’m expecting both of these defenses to be among the league’s best this season, and this game will ultimately come down to which quarterback can maintain possession of the ball and not force turnovers against the opposing defense. I’d be inclined to trust Washington’s elite defense here, but Justin Herbert was under fire all season last year and delivered consistently nonetheless. While it could take some time for the new offensive line pieces to gel, I have enough faith in Herbert to move the ball against Washington. Keep an eye on the injury report to see if any of the offensive linemen miss this game. On the flip side, Ryan Fitzpatrick has been erratic from time to time and I wouldn’t put it past him to throw a couple of interceptions in this game. The biggest mismatch here is also the prospect of rookie Samuel Cosmi having to block against Joey Bosa – that could be a recipe for disaster. This game could really go either way, but I’ll take the Chargers to get an impressive Week 1 road win as Justin Herbert continues his ascension as one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL.
My predictions: Chargers win 23-20, Chargers cover, under 44.5 points
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Los Angeles Chargers vs. Washington Football Team Daily Fantasy Picks
This is projected as one of the lowest-scoring matchups on the slate this week, so it’s not the best place to look for DFS value. However, there are a few names worth bringing up, nonetheless. This could be a good spot to target Justin Herbert and Keenan Allen as a GPP stack as their respective ownership should be reduced given the matchup. I also don’t mind taking a shot on Terry McLaurin or Antonio Gibson on the Washington side. Those two will likely see enough volume to be productive even in a lower-scoring game. Ryan Fitzpatrick will be one of my favorite low-cost DFS quarterbacks, but not yet as I don’t see there being enough volume in this game. I wouldn’t necessarily advise targeting either of these teams’ DSTs despite the projected lower-scoring matchup.