1.Washington’s ground game will lead them to victory.
Though the Chargers are welcoming in a new scheme with new pieces along their defense, there is no clear-cut way to explain this:
In 2020, the Chargers were a mediocre run defense, from both the tape and the numbers, it wasn’t very good. Injuries hurt them, and a poor scheme by Gus Bradley didn’t help either, but their 2020 campaign looked like this on the ground:
- 20th in rush success rate%
- 20th in rush YPC
- 26th in rush DVOA
- 12th-most in rush TD allowed
- 7th-most 20+ yard runs allowed
While Washington’s offense struggled considerably after the worst quarterback play in all of the NFL back in 2020, their rushing attack was a tick above league average last season.
The Washington ground game in 2020 ranked:
- 14th in rush DVOA
- 9th in rush EPA
- 16th in rushing success rate
- 5th in 40+ yard runs
In addition to Washington running the football, they must use their time to take advantage of the clock as a heavy rushing team. Last year, Fitzpatrick’s Dolphins ranked seventh in time-of-possession. Limiting opposing offenses that have the capability of blasting off, like Herbert’s Chargers’, is a must for a Washington offense that may be without wideout Curtis Samuel.
With Washington utilizing their strength in the run game, they’ll be able to not only limit Herbert’s possessions but also play efficient football whether it be through the air or on the ground. Judging from the numbers, this seems plausible.
Coupled by the fact that Washington’s lead back, Antonio Gibson, averaged over 4.5 yards per carry last year with a thunder punch addition in Jaret Patterson, Washington can run themselves to victory against a Chargers run defense that has more question marks than they do answers.
In addition, Washington’s push up front has improved, as they’ve gotten more athletic at both Left Guard and Right Tackle, while improving at left tackle and keeping their two stalwart options in Chase Roulier and Brandon Scherff.
It will be the bread and butter for a Washington offense that should heavily rely on the zone-running scheme that led them to success late last year, one that has proven it can eventually open up their play-action passing game.
Working the running game hard to open up their intermediate passing game will be a major key for success should Washington win this game, and by the looks of it, they should be able to take advantage of a question-filled Chargers run defense.
I’d count on the Washington Football Team rushing for over 125 yards at a clip of 4.8 yards per carry. This falls along the lines of Los Angeles’s season averages from 2020, but i’m expecting Scott Turner to fall in love with the run game early, and ride it all the way to victory.
I’d expect a big day from Washington’s bell-cow Antonio Gibson, locking in his first 100-yard day of the season, running behind the athletes Washington has placed around him on the offensive line.
In doing so, I believe Washington wins this football game after an efficient performance from Ryan Fitzpatrick where he manages the game and attacks off of Washington’s strong play-action game. This play-style will be unlocked by the rushing attack primarily from Antonio Gibson, who I’d count on for scoring at least one touchdown.
Lastly, playing efficient football to beat a team with a superstar quarterback is a must, so Herbert’s Chargers likely will not have the opportunities to strike hot often against this defense. Not only due to the time of possession battle being out of their favor, but Washington’s elite defense will keep the Chargers at distance in the end.