Following an opening night victory on Baker Mayfield and the Browns, we will look to keep the winners flowing as NFL pre-season action continues on Saturday night.
Philip Rivers and his talented group of L.A. Chargers are just 2-6 against the number over their past eight pre-season contests, but you have to wonder if this is a team that might put extra emphasis on the exhibition season this year. The Bolts have struggled to match expectations in recent seasons, and with an excellent defensive unit – the pressure is on Rivers and the offense to find a groove early. If they can, the AFC West is there for the taking.
Their Week 1 pre-season opponents will be the NFC West’s Arizona Cardinals. Not much is expected from the Cards this season, but it has been a boost getting running back David Johnson back into the fold. You’ll recall Johnson was lost very early last year to injury and never recovered. It will be intriguing watching him work his way back and see how he takes to his first real game action.
There’s a lot of new in Arizona, as Steve Wilks is the new coach on the sidelines and Sam Bradford should step in as QB1 for the Cards. It’s a good thing they have four pre-season games, since there will certainly be a lot of new schematics to work out.
Keep on reading below the odds as we delve deeper into this Chargers/Cardinals matchup and provide you with an official betting prediction for your Saturday night NFL action.
Chargers vs. Cardinals Betting Odds:
Los Angeles Chargers +2.5 (-110)
@ Arizona Cardinals -2.5 (-110)
Over 36.5 (-110)
Under 36.5 (-110)
Chargers vs. Cardinals Pick:
Heading into this contest, it is worth noting that both of these teams do play each other during the regular season on November 25th. As such, don’t expect either side to reveal too much and though coaches haven’t stated how much their starters will feature – with that date looming, I’d expect no more than one series from each side.
Depth and backup strength will be important in determining a winner for Saturday night, and that’s where I think Arizona has an opportunity to exploit. The Cardinals possess a lot of new faces, and Steve Wilks will be keen to get his Cardinals’ coaching career started off on high point – eager to make a positive first impression. He’ll start with Bradford, but beyond that he has highly-touted rookie and first rounder, Josh Rosen. Rosen was a stud at UCLA and there was definitely a case to be made that he was the top quarterback in the draft.
Rosen will be getting most of the reps on Saturday evening, and reports indicate he has looked good in practice – even when going against the starting unit. Beyond Rosen, the Cards are also lucky to have former starter Mike Glennon as their third-stringer. Not many teams have that kind of depth, and it’s that quarterback depth that has me high on the Cardinals’ chances against Los Angeles.
Expect Rivers and all first-teamers for the Chargers to only get one drive as that’s what L.A. did in their first pre-season contest from last season. Beyond Rivers, Geno Smith and Cardale Jones have had much-maligned NFL careers to date, and you have to favor the depth of the Cards’ QB’s instead. I think at home, Rosen will come in and make big plays – eager to match what he saw Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield do earlier this week. And at just short favorites, I like the value on the hometown Cardinals.
MY PICK = Cardinals -2.5 (-110)