Two teams with a lot of question marks meet up in Chargers at Bengals betting to kick off the first full NFL Sunday. San Diego/Los Angeles has had Philip Rivers as their starting quarterback since 2004, but they turn the reins over to Tyrod Taylor after Rivers is off to Indianapolis. The Bengals hope they have found their QB for the next 15 years with #1 pick Joe Burrow.
The Bengals opened as +5 point home underdogs but are +3 going into the 4:05 EST meeting. The Chargers covered in just three of their last 10 games last season, as did the Bengals. Bettors are split in this meeting with 52% leaning towards L.A. The total has also been bet down from a 46.5 open to 41.
What to Expect From Taylor for the Chargers
The good thing for the Chargers heading into Sunday’s meeting is that Tyrod Taylor is a 10-year NFL veteran who served as Rivers’ backup a season ago. In this league year where there are no preseason games, Burrow is getting thrown to the wolves right out of the gate. The Chargers had one of the league’s best defenses a year ago too, ranking 6th in total yards including 5th against the pass.
Taylor threw only six passes a season ago however and could be operating with a skeleton crew. Anthony Lynn has flip-flopped on whether WR Mike Williams will play or not and three starting offensive lineman, Mike Pouncey (out-hip), Bryan Bulaga (Q-hamstring), and Trai Turner (Q-ankle), are banged up as well. Justin Jackson, part of a solid RB tandem with Austin Ekeler, will play but with a foot injury.
West Coast teams traveling to the East Coast is always a betting angle to consider but that is exacerbated this season with Coronavirus social distancing. Teams are traveling later in the week which could hinder the Chargers getting adjusted, although the afternoon start does help instead of it being at 1:00 PM EST.
Burrow Gets Challenged Right Away
#1 draft pick Joe Burrow is one of the players hit hardest by the fact that there was no preseason in 2020. Burrow’s first NFL action will be live but the former LSU standout is coming off a 5,671 yard, 60TD performance last year against some great competition in the SEC.
Believe it or not there are some reasons to like Burrow and the Bengals on Sunday. The Chargers did have a top 5 pass defense a year ago, but they will also be without safety Derwin James who has suffered a torn meniscus in his knee.
The Bengals could also be set to welcome back perennial all-pro A.J. Green who missed all of last season with a knee injury and has been bothered by a sore hamstring in camp this year. Green appears to be ready to go and his veteran presence will be a big asset for Burrow. The Bengals also have a solid backfield to ease pressure off the rookie as Joe Mixon ran for 1137 yards a year ago in a very one-dimensional offense.
Chargers at Bengals Betting Free Pick
Cincinnati has issues in their secondary, but a defensive line that features Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins should be able to put pressure on a banged up Chargers offensive line. The Bengals have some weapons that also includes rookie Tee Higgins out of Clemson and John Ross who ran a 4.22 40-yard dash a couple years ago.
Burrow is a rookie, but an old one at 23-years old. If he’s found a command of the offense in this awkward preseason, it should be an instant coming-out party for the top pick.
Free Pick: Bengals +3