I think many people envisioned the Saints having a rough season after the news this offseason. However, a 0-4 start to the year wasn’t a popular prediction among many pundits. How much longer are the Saints going to go without a win? 0-5 and the Saints in the same sentence seems like kind of an afterthought, but here we are entering week 5 with that scenario staring them straight in the face. In the comfort of their own home, the Saints will try and get in the win column for the first time this season against the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers are sitting in a comfortable position at 3-1, after disposing the Kansas City Chiefs fairly easily at Arrowhead, they will need to enter another hostile in week 5 on Sunday Night Football.
The Chargers have relied on a pretty well-rounded effort to make it to 3-1. I’m not quite sure there is one player in particular that really jumps out at you on this roster, but the offense and defense has really come together. Of course, Philip Rivers is the main catalyst, and without a primary go-to target, Rivers has performed well. He has passed for 897 yards with 6 touchdowns, but the main part is the fact that he has limited mistakes. If Rivers starts getting erratic and turning the ball over this team could take a total 180. I don’t believe the Chargers have a good enough running game to lean on. As much as they want to get Ryan Mathews touches, he is either injured or under performing. He put together an okay game last week rushing for 61 yards, but a one dimensional offense with Rivers will hurt them later in the season.
Uncharacteristically, the defense has been pretty good actually for the Chargers. This is a team that is routinely known for their good offense, but the defense has held their own thus far in 2012. They are an opportunistic bunch, forcing six turnovers last week against the Chiefs. The defenses best player, Eric Weddle, started the party off with an interception early. The interception was followed up with three fumbles and another two interceptions. The offense turned those turnovers into 24 points. The defense has particularly been stingy defending the run, holding teams to just under 80 yards per game at 79.2. From an overall standpoint, the defense ranks 11th in the league, surrendering 316.5 yards a game. Even more impressive, however, is the fact they only allow 17.2 points a game.
The Saints will be the most high octane offense they have faced all year, so that is a cause of concern for them. While the Saints haven taken a step back as a team, it is primarily due to their defense, the offense continues to put up gaudy numbers. Drew Brees still has a host of options to work with in his arsenal. From Marques Colston to running back Darren Sproles, this is still an offense that will make a defense work as they average 27.2 points a game.
The defense has been an absolute train wreck. I could use a number of different adjectives to describe this unit, but train wreck will work. There is no secret that they their leader, linebacker Jonathan Vilma, back on the field. Even though he won the appeal with the bounty scandal, Vilma was placed on the PUP list before the season started. Without Vilma, the defense has allowed an embarrassing 463 yards per game (32nd). They are most susceptible against the run, where in that regard, they are allowing a mind blowing 186 yards per game (32nd).
Chargers vs. Saints Spread and Betting Odds:
San Diego Chargers +3.5 (-105)
@New Orleans Saints -3.5 (-115)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Chargers vs. Saints Pick:
The problem I have with the Chargers is to do with the teams they have beaten. Beating the Raiders, Titans, and Chiefs isn’t really all that impressive. The one team they lost to, the Atlanta Falcons, is one of the better teams in the NFL. I’m not saying the Saints are an elite team anymore given their defense, but the offense is a juggernaut. If the defense can feed off their home crowd in a SNF spot, it could be just enough to perform well.
The Saints are 0-4. I really think they come out with plenty of emotion to make sure that doesn’t turn into 0-5 before their bye week. Emotions will be flowing and the Saints will be juiced up to earn their first victory in the Super Dome. If Philip Rivers makes one or two mistakes, all of the cards will come crashing down on the Chargers. I don’t feel like their running game is good enough to take advantage of a deplorable run defense, and the Saints offense will put up huge numbers in this one. The Chargers may get their points to, but not enough to play keep up. Take the Saints and watch them earn their first victory of the 2012 season.
PICK = Saints -3.5