It’s Rosen time.
Josh Rosen makes his NFL debut Saturday night, as the Cardinals and Chargers face off Saturday night to close out the first week of preseason.
The Cardinals are a 2.5 point favorite for Saturday according to OddsShark.com, and are favored as high as -130 on the moneyline. The point total is at 36.5 for this contest, with the over slightly favored at -115.
With this being the last of preseason debuts, Rosen is the last of the rookie quarterbacks to shine. This year’s crop of rookies had an exciting start to the preseason, with players like Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield showing flashes of ability in the early goings.
The Cardinals are getting ready to debut their future, while the Chargers will be preparing for a return trip to the playoffs. It’s unknown how much we’ll see Phillip Rivers in this contest, but if anything it’ll be one or two series. The Chargers went 9-7 in their first season repping Los Angeles, and were immediately overshadowed but the upstart Rams. The Chargers have now missed the playoffs in four straight seasons, and the team has just one postseason win since 2008.
With that in mind, this is a big season for Los Angeles. The Chargers have a decent schedule, and there’s uncertainty in the AFC West with two teams changing quarterback. The Chargers have always had rough injury luck, but they’ll need to stay healthy to contend this season. They’ve already lost two key starters before their opening preseason game, with corner Jason Verrett and tight end Hunter Henry both going down with season-ending injuries.
With Rivers likely on the sidelines, the Chargers backup quarterbacks could make the difference in this contest. The Cardinals want to see Rosen in action and shouldn’t risk sending Sam Bradford out, so I can see them scoring multiple touchdowns with Rosen and Christian Kirk seeing extended time. The Chargers have three guys competing for an open backup job, and last year’s backup Kellen Clemens is no longer on the team.
Outside of Rosen’s debut, the Chargers backups are a major part of this game’s appeal. After Rivers gets his run, it’s a toss-up between Geno Smith, Cardale Jones and undrafted rookie Nic Shimonek. Look at those names! Even if Josh Rosen doesn’t get that much action, we could get an entire quarter of NFL Cardale Jones tonight.
The Darnolds and Mayfields of the world have been getting it done against the backups, and I think Rosen should similarly succeed. I’d like it better if he was running a Bruce Arians offense, but the Cardinals hired the very experienced Mike McCoy in the offseason to be their new offensive coordinator. McCoy took Tim Tebow to the playoffs, so I expect him to put Rosen in the right place to succeed on Saturday.
Prediction: Cardinals 24, Chargers 13