Burrow Makes His Cincinnati Debut
Two rebuilding teams with newly drafted quarterbacks meet in NFL Week 1 as the Los Angeles Chargers travel to face the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals have first overall pick Joe Burrow (+8000 odds to win NFL MVP in his first season) under center, while the Chargers took Justin Herbert sixth overall.
Both teams lost veteran quarterbacks, with Philip Rivers moving from the Chargers to the Colts and long-time Bengals starter Andy Dalton being released and signing with the Cowboys.
The Week 1 tilt between the Chargers and Bengals will take place at 4:05 p.m. on Sept. 13 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. For the NFL free pick, we will be looking at both teams with the NFL odds having the Chargers as three-point NFL betting favorites.
Los Angeles Chargers Outlook
The Chargers went 5-11 last regular season and lost their franchise QB plus Pro Bowl running back Melvin Gordon in the offseason. Whether its Herbert or veteran Tyrod Taylor under center in Week 1, the Chargers will rely on the legs of RB Austin Ekeler and the three-headed receiving monster of Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and TE Hunter Henry.
The Chargers defense was sixth in total yards last year despite missing S Derwin James for 11 games.
The Chargers have revamped the offensive line via trades and free agency with G Trai Turner and T Bryan Bulaga bringing veteran leadership. The defensive additions include former Denver CB Chris Harris, Minnesota DT Linval Joseph, and second-round pick Kenneth Murray, an LB out of Oklahoma.
Their current Over/Under for regular-season wins is set at 7½ games.
Cincinnati Bengals Outlook
First-year head coach Zac Taylor had a tough debut season with an 0-11 start and an overall 2-14 campaign. Dalton threw for 2,494 yards but was a big part of the Bengals’ 30 turnovers on the season.
Joe Mixon ran for 1,137 yards, while WR Tyler Boyd had a breakout year with 1,046 receiving yards. The Bengals were 26th in yards per game and allowed the second-most yards per game while getting gashed for nearly 150 rush yards.
Cincinnati is counting on a healthy AJ Green to provide a big target for Burrow while also drafting Clemson WR Tee Higgins in the second round. The Bengals spent most of their free-agent money on defense, with a combined $117 million going to NT DJ Reader, CB Trae Waynes, S Vonn Bell, and CB Mackensie Alexander.
Their current Over/Under for regular-season wins is set at 5½ games.
The Bengals and Chargers last met in 2018 with a 26-21 home win for Los Angeles. The last time the Chargers went to Paul Brown Stadium, the Bengals won 24-19 in 2015. The Chargers did win a playoff meeting in Cincinnati in January 2014. These teams have met just four times in the regular season since 2010.
Los Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals Against the Spread Pick
There are a lot of unknown variables among these teams, especially at quarterback. But the defense of the Chargers is a known commodity with the front line of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa ready to make life tough on a rookie QB. If the Bengals’ pass defense isn’t improved, Allen, Williams, Ekeler, and Henry could run wild no matter who Anthony Lynn picks to start at QB.