The Los Angeles Chargers will open the 2021 regular season with a trip on the road to Fedex Field and a matchup with the Washington Football Team. Los Angeles finished the 2020 season strong with four straight wins, but fell short of the playoffs at 7-9, yet their is plenty to be excited about for the future in LA. Washington finished under .500 at 7-9 but snuck into the playoffs through a weak NFC East, they lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-23.
Washington leaned on a stout defense last season to navigate through the worst division in football and into the playoffs, and will likely do so again this year. The Football Team added a veteran QB in Ryan Fitzpatrick, he has limited competition with the second stringer being Taylor Heinke who started against the Bucs in the wildcard last season.
Antonio Gibson figures to be the bellcow back for Washington this season, he rushed for 795 yards and 11 touchdowns whilst averaging 4.7 yards per carry in 2020. Dynamic wide receiver Terry McLaurin will likely lead the Football Team in receiving again, he broke out for 87 catches on 1,118 yards and four touchdowns last season.
The Football Team relied on their defense, and led by a young and talented defensive line, they finished last season second in total yards allowing 304.6 yards per game and finished fourth in scoring offense allowing 20.6 points per contest. Rookie Chase Young led the way with 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles, the highly touted pass rusher out of Ohio State will continue to be a big part of the future in Washington.
Los Angeles was a surprise team in the AFC last year when rookie quarterback Justin Herbert had a breakout season that ended with him winning Rookie of the Year. Herbert threw for over 4,000 yards and 31 touchdowns, tossed 10 interceptions and added another 230 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground. He was expected to be a development project for whoever drafted him, but showed he was ready to play at the next level.
Herbert will have plenty of weapons - including a healthy Austin Ekeler who played just 10 games last season, totaling 935 yards and three touchdowns. Ekeler will play a big part in the offense - both on the ground and as a safe checkdown option. Veteran receiver Keenan Allen should also be able to take a step forward after finishing with nearly 1,000 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Los Angeles was a slightly below average defensive team last year allowing 26.6 points per game and with opponents racking 343.4 yards per contest. They should be improved this season with the return of star safety Derwin James and pass rusher Joey Bosa - Bosa missed a couple of games last season but still registered 7.5 sacks in 12 games.