Chargers vs. Rams prediction and odds for NFL preseason Week 1 (Will Rams’ new strategy pay off?)

Can the Rams win their preseason opener against the Chargers?
Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay during training camp at UC Irvine.
Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay during training camp at UC Irvine. / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams will open the preseason against a member of McVay’s coaching tree, Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley. 

The 2022 season was a disappointing one for the Rams, as injuries cost the team any chance of making the playoffs to defend their Super Bowl title. However, they’re looking for a renewed energy in 2023, and even McVay is changing up his strategy. 

The Rams head coach is notorious for not playing key players in the preseason, but it looks like that will change this season. 

“We’re still kind of working through that, but it will be very different than kind of what we’ve been accustomed to,” said McVay. “The guys that have been big contributors, that have played a lot of snaps, we’ll tilt toward being smart with them.

“But for the most part, there’s going to be a lot of guys (who) are playing and very few guys (who) won’t be.”

That could be a reason why the Rams are favored in this preseason opener against a Chargers team that isn’t expected to play star quarterback Justin Herbert in the preseason., 

Staley, who is 2-4 against the spread in his preseason career, is hoping to lead his team back to the playoffs after an unfortunate first-round exit last season. 

Let’s dive into the odds and my best bet for Saturday’s preseason Week 1 matchup: 

Chargers vs. Rams odds, spread and total

Chargers vs. Rams prediction and pick

Even though McVay rarely plays his starters in the preseason, he does have a solid against the spread record in the preseason since taking over as the team’s head coach. 

McVay is 9-9 ATS in 18 preseason games, a much better mark than Staley’s 2-4 showing through his first two seasons as a head coach. 

Staley, who comes from the McVay coaching tree, seems to be deploying a different approach by sitting key stars like Herbert. 

It’s always hard to tell who will play and for how long in preseason games, so I’m going to forget the spread in this spot. 

The Rams have a battle for the backup behind Matthew Stafford going, and I expect Bretty Rypien and Stetson Bennett to show up in their preseason action. 

I’ll take McVay’s new philosophy to win this game outright. 

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.