Past Expert Picks
It's scary to back a rookie in his first NFL start, especially with no preseason games, but the Chargers are going to be a conservative, run-first team behind Tyrod Taylor. They lost arguably their best defensive player, Derwin James, and the explosive Mike Williams is a gametime decision with a shoulder injury. In a game that should be extremely close, take the full field goal.
L.A. Chargers @ Cincinnati | 09/13 | 8:05 PM UTC
Perhaps no game in Week 1 is more impacted by the preseason schedule’s wipeout than this one. The Chargers are breaking in a QB new to the team, with veteran Tyrod Taylor replacing his near-opposite, Philip Rivers. Taylor, a so-so passer, might be denied his primary target in 1,000-yard receiver Mike Williams (shoulder). The Bengals are breaking in a QB new to the league. Joe Burrow will be thrown to the wolves, notably the sharp-toothed DE duo of Joey Boss and Melvin Ingram. It’s a ridiculously unfair ask of the rookie. If the defenses are held to a combined total of one TD, the Under should prevail.
This is a sprinkle pick for me on the spread and straight up, as I don't have high hopes for either of these teams entering the season, and yes, Joe Burrow is entering this game as a rookie making his first start without anything resembling a full preseason. Still, the Chargers are going to be terrible this year, and their defense is not good enough to make up for their inadequacies, though their defensive ends will make life difficult for Burrow in his first game. The Bengals offense is loaded with weapons, enough that it should be able to stay within this number if not win outright.
It's Joe Burrow's first career NFL start but that's not what stands out to me. What I'm looking at here is Tyrod Taylor starting for the Chargers. No disrespect to Taylor, but he's a stopgap option holding the spot until Justin Herbert is "ready." Well, I don't make a habit of taking stopgap placeholder QBs as road favorites in the NFL. Particularly when they're playing for a team with injuries on the offensive line.