The LA Chargers’ first primetime game of the year is against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
The LA Chargers may be 1-3 and staring directly down the barrel of a 1-4 start, but it’s obvious that this is a team that has been playing up to better competition this season and last week was no exception.
Justin Herbert has gone toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady, two of the best quarterbacks in the league, and came out with close losses to hang his hat on. Week 4’s loss to Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs what yet another example of how game this team and this young quarterback are when it comes to stiff competition.
290 passing yards and three touchdowns while simultaneously outdoing Tom Brady in QBR score (87.2-to-85.5) and Passer Rating (137.9-to-117.0) is going to open a lot of eyes around the league as to how much more dynamic this Chargers offense is under Herbert rather than Tyrod Taylor.
The Chargers are a good “bad” team if that makes any sense. 1-3/potentially 1-4 is not going to make people raise their heads. However, the way this team is losing will provide for a lot of hope in that Chargers locker room and facilitate a surge in the standings as soon as next year if everything continues along these lines.
Herbert faces a similar foe to Mahomes and Brady this week in Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints on the road, and wouldn’t you know, history says the Bolts have a little advantage in such a matchup to my and probably many of your surprise.
These two teams have met a total of 12 times and the Chargers have won 7 of those matchups including four of which IN New Orleans. At the same time, we also have the fact that the Saints have won 4 of the last 5 meetings with the Chargers and Drew Brees is 3-0 against his former team all-time.
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So, there are good omens and bad ones in this matchup for the Bolts. Judging by how they’ve played against better teams and quarterbacks this year, one would be logically led to believe that they can at least do a cover job as underdogs against a seemingly healthy spread in New Orleans’ favor.
The Chargers can obviously move the ball. As of the end of Week 4, they were 6th in yards per game, 7th in passing yards per game, and just outside the top ten in rushing yards per game. Their biggest issues on offense are that they can’t really score (27th in points per game) and they turn the ball over quite often with seven giveaways to this point.
The Saints, on the other hand, are pretty much the opposite on offense. They’re 6th in scoring as of Week 4’s end yet they’re also 17th in both yards per game and passing yards per game.
Defensively, it’s clear the Bolts have had their share of issues. They’re giving up only 23.8 points a game which is almost top ten in the league, but they’re also 14th in rushing yards per game allowed, 19th in yards per game allowed, and 25th in passing yards per game allowed.
Almost exactly like the offensive comparisons, the Saints don’t get moved on yet they give up 30.8 points per game. They’re 25th in that category, but 13th in passing yards per game allowed, and 6th in both yards per game allowed and rushing yards per game allowed.
To me, these two teams seem very balanced in how they match up with each other. Where one lacks, the other thrives and where one thrives the other lacks. When it comes down to it, this game will be about the quarterbacks, and until this point, Justin Herbert, although he’s been very impressive, has not yet been able to get over the hump and pull off one of these upsets.
The Saints are primed for an upset. Michael Thomas is out YET AGAIN for them- this time for punching one of his teammates in practice- and we’ve seen what this Saint offense has looked like with his absence.
The Chargers can run the ball a little bit. They’re down Austin Ekeler, but Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson together aren’t such a bad duo given the fact that now they’ll be getting more reps. We saw a couple of weeks ago Josh Jacobs and the Raiders bowl over this Saints defense to pull off an upset.
Neither Kelley or Jackson is even close to Jacobs’ level and the Charger O-line isn’t in the same stratosphere as the Raiders’, but if there was a formula to beating this Saints team, it would be to keep a Michael Thomas-less Drew Brees off the field and wear out a Saints defense that has, in my opinion, underperformed to this point.
I have the Saints winning this game 29-24, but I love me a Chargers cover. The Bolts are 2-0 against the spread this season whereas New Orleans is 2-2 in covers.
He may come up short. He may turn the ball over again at an extremely inopportune time, but Justin Herbert is going to keep the Bolts in this game and a Saints team that is anything but harmonious these days is really going to have to get its act together in a hurry.
Otherwise, we could be looking at a Chargers upset in this game.