Herbert’s play earning new fans

Growing up as a big fan of the NFL, we all end up with teams we loathe.

For me, as a Dallas Cowboys fan since 1976, surprisingly I’ve never really held personal disdain for any of the NFC East foes, but if I were to choose one, it would be the team out of Washington D.C. Since the 1979 Super Bowl loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, they’re on my list. The San Francisco 49ers sat atop the list for quite some time after “The Catch,” in 1981.

Over time, when Mike Tomlin arrived, I came to respect the Steelers. The 49ers, nah, I still can’t stand them.

I can’t pinpoint when in life the Chargers irritated me like a rash, but from a personal standpoint I can’t stand them either. I’ve bet on them, I’ve written about them, I’ve taken my son to the old “Murph” to see some great matchups. Still never liked the Bolts.

I can’t believe I’m about to say this (deep breath), but rookie quarterback Justin Herbert has earned my respect and I’m actually rooting for this kid to catch a break and earn his first victory.

Let me preface by saying I feel terrible for Tyrod Taylor, who earned the starting quarterback job for the Chargers. But he lost it to Herbert after a team doctor punctured his lung with what was supposed to be a pain-killing injection to a pair of cracked ribs.

Herbert has stepped in beautifully and has given the Chargers a chance to win against the Chiefs, Panthers, Buccaneers and Saints — four losses Los Angeles has suffered by an average margin of 4.5 points.

The 2020 Rose Bowl MVP is 0-4 as a starter after Monday’s 30-27 overtime loss in New Orleans, where he became the first rookie and youngest ever to throw four touchdown passes during a Monday Night Football game.

But he’s held his own against two of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history — Tom Brady and Drew Brees — carving up secondaries in Tampa and New Orleans the past two weeks. Forget about Joe Burrow in Cincinnati. This kid Herbert is my leading candidate for Rookie of the Year after seeing the way he performs with such poise.

Fact is, he’s done his job. Heck, he built 17-point leads against the Bucs and Saints. The defense has blown it for him. Most importantly from a Vegas standpoint, the Bolts are now 4-1 against the spread this season — 3-1 with Herbert under center.

Los Angeles’ regularly scheduled game with the Jets this week has been moved to Week 11, due to coronavirus schedule changes, so it has a week to prepare for its home game against Jacksonville on Oct. 25. An early line from the Westgate has the Chargers laying -6.5 to the Jaguars. With time for the defense to plan, I’d jump on Los Angeles immediately.

Herbert will have his day.

I need my own day after going 1-2 last week. At publication, my play on the Bills was pending Tuesday. Let’s look ahead to Week 6.

Sunday

Bears at Panthers, Total 44.5: Chicago has a good defense, but this one being played in Charlotte, I sense a high-scoring game. Carolina quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is finding his groove and will dictate an up-tempo flow. OVER

Browns +3.5 at Steelers: Cleveland heads to Pittsburgh one-half game back. The Steelers have yet to lose. If Myles Garrett continues his tear — he has six sacks in five games — the Browns’ offense will thrive. BROWNS

Ravens -7.5 at Eagles: Are the oddsmakers forcing you to look at the home underdog? I went back as far as the 2006-07 season, and still couldn’t find the last time the Eagles caught this many points at home. They’re that bad. RAVENS

Bengals +7.5 at Colts: Indy’s wins have come against the Vikings, Jets and Bears, the latter being the impressive one. The Colts lost to Jacksonville and Cleveland. I’m feeling a big game for Burrow. BENGALS

Rams -3.5 at 49ers: Los Angeles is scary good defensively, ranking fifth in percentage of allowing opponents’ drives to end in a score, at 32.7%. San Francisco is going to struggle to move the ball. RAMS

Jets at Dolphins -8.5: After starting 0-7 last season, Miami’s first win was a 26-18 victory over its arch-rival from the AFC East. The Dolphins are better this season; the Jets are worse. DOLPHINS

Last Week: 1-2

Season: 17-9