The LA Chargers are on the road for Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season, kickstarting the season against the Washington Football Team. Washington is an interesting team as it has one of the top defenses in the league and is improving at quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick.
It is also a bit worrisome for the Chargers, who did not play many of the starters in the regular season and now have to start the season on arguably the worst playing surface in the entire NFL.
Not only should Charger fans be hoping for a win, but they should be hoping that the team escapes with no major injuries.
When it comes to the outcome of the game itself, there are three matchups in particular that will be very influential in deciding what team emerges victorious.
3 matchups that will determine the Week 1 outcome of the LA Chargers vs. the Washington Football team:
1. Rashawn Slater vs. Chase Young
Rashawn Slater fell to the LA Chargers in the 2021 NFL Draft and was viewed by many as the best-possible pick the team could have made. Slater was viewed as a generational tackle prospect heading into the draft and that is exactly what the LA Chargers needed.
Slater only played the first preseason game of the year and he looked really solid in his pass-blocking. Everything from that game and from camp, when he got reps against Joey Bosa, indicate that there might not be a rookie learning curve in the pass-blocking department.
There is some work to do in run blocking but it should not be a problem at all. Slater should be really good right away in the league.
He is getting tested in his first career NFL game against the 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year, Chase Young. Young is the real deal and is one of the best edge rushers in the league. There are very few tougher challenges that Slater could have had in Week 1.
Luckily, Slater's best film at Northwestern was against Chase Young and Ohio State, although that was two years ago. Charger fans are certainly hoping for a repeat of that 2019 Northwestern-Ohio State matchup.