The Joe Burrow era officially gets under way at home against the LA Chargers in a contest between two teams I expect to finish at the bottom of their divisions. The Bengals selected Joe Burrow #1 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft after he produced a monster season leading the LSU offense to a National Championship and he has some very nice weapons to work with here in Cincinnati too, pass catchers AJ Green, Tyler Boyd, Auden Tate and 2nd round pick Tee Higgins put together one of the more underrated WR rooms in the league and Running Back Joe Mixon is one of the best in Football, on top of all this the Bengals welcome back last years 1st round selection, Jonah Williams at Left Tackle, Williams who missed all of his rookie year with injury was the #1 Offensive Lineman in the 2019 class and the Bengals will be hoping he lives up to the hype that surrounded him coming out of Alabama and can keep their new franchise passer on his feet this year. On defense they’re still not where they want be, 3rd round pick Logan Wilson was a nice selection from Wyoming and the Linebacker should have a starting role immediately but the rest of the defense needs improving especially against the run, the addition of Defensive Tackle, DJ Reader should help to improve worst defense against the run last year. Trae Waynes was brought in to try and improve a secondary which gave up a league high 13.4 yards per completion last year and he might of done if he didn’t injure himself in camp and will likely miss the majority if not all of the season. Expect improvements on offense but more of the same on defense from the Bengals this year.
The Chargers, fresh off their Hard Knocks appearance are in a transition of their own, moving on from long time signal caller, Philip Rivers and moving on with Tyrod Taylor but drafting Justin Herbert in the first round to be their play caller of the future means that Tyrod might be one and done as the starter in LA and with guys like Keenan Allen, Mike Williamson, Hunter Henry and Austin Ekeler as his receiving weapons there wont be many excuses if he struggles to move the chains. Offensive lineman Mike Pouncey is ruled out for this contest whilst Bryan Bulaga and Trai Turner are doubtful and if they’re both out for this one I like the Bengals chances. On D it’s still all about Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram off the edge but the loss of star Safety, Derwin James is a huge blow after missing 11 games last year they were hoping he’d be able to lead the backend of that defense this year. Offseason acquisitions Chris Harris and Linval Joseph should help, especially Joseph who’s ability to plug the run will be beneficial to a team who finished below average In run defense last year as will draft selection Kenneth Murray who projects to start at Middle Linebacker.
If the injury report updates with Beluga and Turner inactive then all bets are off but let’s assume, they’re playing and if that’s the case I like the Chargers. Nothing the Bengals have done on defense convince me they can all of a sudden stop the run and with Tyrod Taylor under centre and Austin Ekeler behind him I imagine if they cant stop the run they’ll be in for a long night, Ekeler had 2 TD’s in his only other outing against the Bengals, one on the ground and one through the air and I see him getting a TD today as well. I like Burrow to get the Bengals offense moving a bit and keep it close but give me the Chargers by a FG.
PREDICTION: CHARGERS 20 – 17 BENGALS
BEST BET: Austin Ekeler Anytime TD – 10/11 with SkyBet