Michael Thomas is not playing on Monday night but the LA Chargers still have a big uphill battle.
The LA Chargers square off against the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football in the Bolts’ first primetime game of the season. The Chargers enter the game as touchdown underdogs.
The line got as high as Saints by eight but has moved down an entire point after Sunday. It was announced on Sunday that Michael Thomas would not be suiting up for the Saints due to disciplinary reasons.
Thomas reportedly got in an altercation with Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, punching him in the process.
While that impacted the betting odds, the reality of the matchup is that Thomas being out does not help the Chargers as much as Charger fans hope it will. Obviously, it is easier to guard Emmanuel Sanders as the WR1 than Michael Thomas, but that is not going to be the Saints’ bread and butter in this game, anyway.
The Saints will (or at least should) expose the Chargers’ linebackers and slot corner. Even with Thomas playing, that should have been the gameplan as Casey Hayward — although he was bad last week — is not someone that Thomas is going to bully all game.
Meanwhile, the Chargers are pretty bad in pass-coverage at linebacker. Kyzir White has stepped up and while Denzel Perryman has been better than expected, they are still not a good pass-coverage bunch and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers exposed that heavily in Week 4.
Slot corner is also an issue as well. Chris Harris was not fantastic in the first three weeks of the season but the team is dreadful at the position without him.
That means that the big contributors for the Saints in this game are going to be Alvin Kamara and Tre’Quan Smith in the slot. Kamara is already having a monster season and that is especially going to continue with Michael Thomas out. Smith has quietly had a really good season for the Saints, being a big contributor for the team over the last three weeks.
So yes — life is a little bit easier without having to gameplan for Michael Thomas, but it won’t impact the result of the game. Whether the LA Chargers lose this game is decided by their ability to step up at slot corner, slow down Alvin Kamara and secure the middle of the field, something that was really bad last week against the Bucs.
The one saving grace is that Drew Brees’s arm is not what it used to be, so the Chargers can allow a little bit more leeway over the top.