It’s going to be a scintillating showdown between LA city rivals and co-habitants of SoFi Stadium when the Bolts and Rams collide at the weekend and wrap up a stellar round of week 1 NFL preseason games. The Bolts vs. Rams are the last game on the NFL betting and the clash that many are hankering to spot in the betting.
In this column, we preview the game alongside the current NFL odds trading in the market and serve up some thoughts and predictions on where the value bets are to be had.
LA Chargers vs. LA Rams
Saturday, August 14, 2021 – 10:00 PM ET at SoFi Stadium
NFL Betting Odds and Lines
As per DraftKings Sportsbook, the Chargers are tipped as the nominal faves in the betting, laying 3.5 points to the Rams while the total is tipped at 34 points. Do the bookies have it right? Are the Bolts the best bet here?
LA Chargers Are Favoured The Los Angeles Chargers head into the 2021-22 NFL season with high expectations after Justin Herbert’s standout rookie season, capped off with the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award, put down a solid foundation for a promising future. It wasn’t enough to save head coach Anthony Lynn’s job, but it certainly was enough to cement Herbert as the bona fide starter for the foreseeable future. prompting wholesale changes in the front office and with the roster almost instantly. The team hired new head coach Brandon Staley, parted ways with journeyman quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who was brought in as a placeholder last season while Herbert acclimatised to the NFL, and launched into a proper rebuild around Herbert and his special skillset.
The NFL never does anything by halves, thorough as the league is with every aspect of the planning and scheduling of any upcoming season. So, it’s not surprising that Staley’s NFL debut in the preseason is slated to come against his former team: the Rams. Staley spent the last year on Sean McVay’s staff as the defensive coordinator. It’s fair to say, he knows the Rams rather well. Having said that though, it’s nevertheless very interesting that bookies have tipped the Chargers as the favourites in this game across the NFL odds board. Giving it all the hallmarks of a student-overtaking-the-master scenario as Staley leads a fancied Chargers team against his former boss and team.
The Chargers are coming off a 7-9-0 SU season in which Herbert was the starter in 15 of 16 games. He won the coveted OROY award thanks to some exceptional play which saw him throwing for 4,336 yards and 31 touchdowns. Whether fans will see Herbert in this game is yet uncertain but if Staley has learned anything from his time with McVay, it’s to take a guarded approach with preseason games. It’s more likely that fans will see mainly Chase Daniel and Easton Stick duelling it out for the backup role.
LA Rams at Disadvantage
Sean McVay typically takes a rather noncommittal approach to winning preseason games – he’s 6-6-0 SU in 12 preseason games since 2017 when he took over the head coaching job in Los Angeles. Hence, it’s not surprising to see market operators such as DraftKings list the Rams as the underdogs to the Chargers for this preseason opener.
The disadvantaged NFL odds are not an indictment of the Rams in general, nor are they meant to serve as a calculated depreciation of their potential for the 2021-22 season. They’re merely a show of appreciation of Sean McVay’s well-known approach to the preseason. The 30-something head coach has made no secret about his opinions regarding preseason games – mainly that he thinks they’re pointless because of the risk of injuries to key players outweigh the potential rewards of preseason games.
In keeping with his views on how the team should best prepare for the upcoming season, McVay has made it known that Matthew Stafford will NOT be taking the field this Saturday for any length of time or, for that matter, in any preseason game.
“There is zero chance you’ll ever see Matthew Stafford take a snap in the preseason for the Rams as long as I’m the coach. That will never happen,” McVay said. “So, he is not going to play.”
Backup John Wolford is also out due to injury, meaning the Rams will be looking at third-string quarterback candidates Devlin Hodges and Bryce Perkins in this game. A quarterback battle between the backups to the backup, so to speak.
NFL Predictions and Picks:
As things currently stand in the betting, the Chargers are tipped at the advantage while the Rams are at the disadvantage. However, the impetus behind this market seems to be largely McVay’s decision to sit out Stafford, along with other key starters such as CB Jalen Ramsey and DT Aaron Donald. It’s not necessarily an accurate assessment of what both teams are planning to bring to the table this Saturday. This makes the NFL pick a right tossup, though that’s the case with practically every single preseason game.
That said, Staley may want to risk a little bit more in this game than his counterpart, if only to preview in real-live action what he has on his roster. It’s not much to hang one’s hat on, but it might be enough to shade the Chargers as the chalk.
NFL Picks: Chargers -3.5 with DraftKings