The 2021 NFL season is upon us, which can only mean one thing — it’s time to start placing some bets. One Week 1 contest to consider wagering on is between the Los Angeles Chargers and Washington Football Team at FedEx Field in Landover, MD. With both teams coming off 7-9 campaigns but eyeing postseason berths in 2021, let’s dissect this tight matchup and win you some money.
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Chargers vs Football Team Predictions Week 1: Picks, Best Bets & Parlays For Los Angeles vs Washington
Los Angeles Chargers vs Washington Football Team Prediction
Coming off back-to-back losing seasons, the Chargers enter the 2021 campaign with a new coaching regime. Former Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley has replaced Anthony Lynn as head coach, while new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi joins the staff after serving as the quarterbacks coach alongside Sean Payton for the New Orleans Saints for the past five seasons.
Meanwhile, the reigning NFC East champs enter the 2021 season with a new starting quarterback in 38-year old Ryan Fitzpatrick. The 16-year NFL veteran has 146 career starts under his belt and should provide a level of consistency after Washington was forced to use four different starting quarterbacks last season. He’ll square off against 23-year-old Justin Herbert, who is looking to build off an impressive rookie campaign in which he set a rookie record with 31 passing touchdowns.
Heading into his second season, look for Herbert to pick up where he left off last year. After starting the season 3-9, Los Angeles won its final four games to end the year on a high note. “Swiss Army knife" running back Austin Ekeler along with wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams should help the Chargers find early success in Lombardi’s new offensive scheme.
Los Angeles has struggled defensively over the past two seasons, but Staley is expected to turn things around after overseeing the NFL’s best defense last year. Derwin James is finally healthy after playing in just five games the past two seasons, so he and Joey Bosa will anchor what should be a much-improved unit this year.
Washington projects to have one of the best defenses in the NFL after allowing the fourth-fewest points per game last year. That starts up front with Chase Young, Montez Sweat, and Jonathan Allen wreaking havoc for opposing teams. On the offensive side of the ball, Antonio Gibson, Logan Thomas, and Terry McLaurin all figure to take another step forward in their respective development. Washington’s newest addition, Curtis Samuel, has been placed on short-term IR (out at least three weeks), meaning we could see more of rookie wide receiver Dyami Brown. If we get a good Fitzpatrick, this could be a dangerous team in 2021 with all the weapons at his disposal.
Staley’s Rams limited a high-powered Dallas Cowboys offense to 17 points in a Week 1 win last year, and I think he produces a similar result here. Look for Herbert and LA’s offense to charge into FedEx Field and take down Washington in Week 1.
Prediction: Los Angeles Chargers 24, Washington Football Team 17
Los Angeles Chargers vs Washington Football Team Best Bets
Best Bet: Chargers +1 (-110)
Washington’s defense is really good, but so is Los Angeles’ offense. 2021 first-round pick Rashawn Slater should be able to help neutralize the Football Team’s pass rush, giving Herbert enough time to find open receivers and march downfield.
Washington appears improved offensively with Fitzpatrick under center, but they could also experience some growing pains with a new quarterback learning the offense. Look for Staley and the Chargers’ defense to disguise coverages, making things difficult for Fitzpatrick in his first start for Washington. Also keep in mind that he’s been notoriously turnover-prone throughout his career with more interceptions (169) than games played (165).
Despite traveling to the East Coast, Los Angeles should have the edge here with their new-look defense and a superior signal caller in Herbert.
Best Bet: Under 44.5 Total Points (-110)
I think the public will be on the over here with the thinking that both teams are trotting out high-powered offenses this season. In reality, I think this will be more of a defensive battle between what I believe are two above-average units.
In seven games with a fully healthy Ekeler in 2020, Los Angeles averaged just 20 points per game compared to 29 points per game without him. His presence allowed them to implement a more balanced attack on offense, which in turn extended drives and helped keep the other team’s offense off the field, leading to lower scoring affairs. Ekeler practiced on a limited basis leading up to Week 1, but the team is “optimistic" he plays in Week 1.
Look for the Chargers to control the clock and take advantage of Fitzpatrick’s questionable throwing accuracy. Los Angeles won’t need to put up a ton of points to come out victorious in this one, which bodes well for the under.
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Washington Football Team Same Game Parlay Picks (+260)
Since I’m picking the Chargers to win this game, it only makes sense to also pair it with the under and combine my two bets into one. There’s a chance Fitzpatrick comes in and changes the makeup of the Football Team, but last year they weren’t built to play from behind. In their nine losses, Washington averaged just 19.9 points per game.
Accordingly, Los Angeles should have the edge here against a team that struggles to engineer comebacks, especially since their defense will likely pressure Fitzpatrick into making errant throws and turning the ball over.
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