Rookies of the Year Square off in Washington
Two of the league’s rising stars square off against each other on Sunday when the Los Angeles Chargers visit FedEx Field to take on the Washington Football Team. The Chargers are led by reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert and will face one of the best defenses in the league led by reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young. The matchup is the second straight season reigning rookie of the year who has faced each other on opening weekend and just the fourth time in NFL history of such an occurrence.
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Carrying Momentum into the Season
Los Angeles missed out on the playoffs last season with a 7-9 record, which led to the dismissal of Anthony Lynn as head coach. But the team did finish the season strong by winning the last four games. Sunday’s game marks the NFL coaching debut of new Chargers coach Brandon Staley.
Return of Fitzmagic
Ryan Fitzpatrick admitted he was blindsided last season when the Dolphins decided to sit the veteran for first-round draft pick Tua Tagvaiola. Fitzpatrick gets another shot as the starting QB this season in Washington and is hoping to guide The Football Team back to the playoffs for a second-straight season.
Herbert vs. Young
Last season the rookie quarterback out of Oregon set NFL rookie records for passing touchdowns in a season (31) and competitions (396) en route to 4,336 yards through the air. Herbert was also the first rookie in NFL history with 4,000-plus passing yards with 25 or more touchdown passes.
Young hopes to help minimize the damage caused by Herbert. Last season the Ohio State product led all NFL rookies with 7.5 sacks and 10 tackles for a loss. With Young anchoring down the defensive line, Washington held opponents to just under 21 points per game, ranking fourth in the league and second to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC.
Chargers to Watch
Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Jared Cook will be the big three targets for Herbert. Allen finished just under 1,000 yards receiving last season (992) with 100 receptions and eight touchdowns. Williams added 756 yards while Cook replaces Hunter Henry as the team’s top tight end. Cook is the only tight end who has caught six or touchdowns in each of the last three seasons.
Austin Eckler is the leading rusher in the backfield and comes off 933 yards from scrimmage last season. Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelly will also see reps from the backfield.
Washington Key Players
Antonio Gibson is one of the most exciting young backs in the league and leads Washington’s backfield. Gibson finished with 1,042 yards from scrimmage last season and scored 11 rushing touchdowns. J.D. McKissic is another versatile back who had more receiving yards (589) than rushing yards (365) from the backfield last season. McKissic hauled in 80 passes a season ago.
Terry McLaurin is another star on the rise as the No. 1 receiver hauled in 87 passes for 1,118 yards, while Curtis Samuel (77-851) is a free-agent signing who will complement McLaurin.
Logan Thomas will be Fitzpatrick’s top tight-end option.
Bettors taking Los Angeles to cover the -1 have odds at -105, while those taking Washington at +1 have -115 odds. Taking the Chargers on the Moneyline carries -115 odds, while Washington on the ML is -105. Odds for these bets can be made at Bovada.lv.
This one should be close throughout. But in the end, the defense of Washington combined with the spark that Fitzpatrick is sure to provide to a struggling offense (20.9 ppg last season) should push the hosts over the top.
Washington 24, Los Angeles 20