New Orleans Saints (0-3 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. San Diego Chargers (1-2 SU, 2-1 ATS)
Week 4 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 2, 2016 at 4:25PM EST
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: NO +3.5/SD -3.5
Over/Under Total: 53.5
The New Orleans Saints come to Qualcomm Stadium to face the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. Neither team had a particularly pleasant week three. The Chargers found a way to lose another game, with the Colts scoring a late TD to win, 26-22. The Saints didn't see it go much better for them, as they fell to a disheartening 0-3 after losing 45-32 to the Atlanta Falcons at home on Monday Night Football. Now on the short week, they have to trek out to San Diego in a game where they'll be out of their element, except for Drew Brees, who once starred on this Chargers' offense.
The Chargers are snake-bitten in more than one way. They should be 3-0, finding a way to lose two games already for a variety of reasons with most of them being silly. They actually have a lot of promise, just with very little follow-through. For them, a good story will turn bad at a rate that exceeds just about any team in sports. As if that's not enough, they have been hit so bad by the injury bug in the first three games—a problem that has plagued this team for the last few seasons. They lost Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead in two straight weeks, with that pair being Philip Rivers' most valuable weapons. Then S Jahleel Addae went down, before LB Manti Te'o was lost for the season with a torn Achilles in Sunday's game. Throw in a bunch of banged-up players and we're seeing the same things that derailed the Chargers over the past few seasons. Against the Colts, every time you looked at the TV, a different Chargers player was sprawled out on the field. It's uncanny how bad it can get with this team.
Yet, they remain dangerous. Philip Rivers soldiers through untold amounts of issues all around him and continues to somehow produce. He's getting help from RB Melvin Gordon, who looks infinitely better in his second NFL season. He scored another TD on Sunday. Getting Antonio Gates in there would help, as he was inactive on Sunday. Rookie Hunter Henry is the heir-apparent and has shown signs of life, though a fumble on the final San Diego drive deprived Rivers of a last-gasp shot to win the game against the Colts. Still, with Travis Benjamin stepping up in the pass-game, along with the emergence of Tyrell Williams, can maybe help. Getting Dexter McCluster is promising, though no NFL team seems to be able to get him in the right spots where he can thrive. Maybe he can make an impact in SD.
The San Diego defense had shown a lot of promise in spots this season. But injuries threaten to make this unit ordinary. Loisng Te'o is a big loss, with a lot of players dealing with nagging issues. Corner Jason Verrett took a bad hit on his leg, with the other corner Brandon Flowers looking to have suffered a possible concussion. What was looking like the best Chargers secondary in quite a while is now pretty banged-up, not good with Drew Brees coming into town. With Denzel Perryman leaving the game on Sunday with Teo now out, the middle looks compromised after showing such promise. It's really a shame.
One thing that would really help is some better coaching when things are actually going well. When the Chargers have any kind of lead, they start playing a very reserved style of football, designed to eliminate mistakes. And by the end of the day, what they try to prevent ends up happening, with what seems like the almost-inevitable comeback. It didn't work for Norv Turner and it's not working for Mike McCoy. It's like when you're in a casino, the guy who looks like losing $20 will ruin his life never wins, it's the guy who lets it swing from the hip that succeeds. That might not exactly capture the dynamic here, but it sort of explains what happens to this team multiple times a season in games they should be winning.
The Saints have their own issues and it's not offense with erstwhile Drew Brees still a handful. After a long run without a pick, he tossed one that was returned for a TD on MNF in the loss to the Falcons. Brees still had 376 yards and knows what it's like to put up big numbers at Qualcomm Stadium. RB Mark Ingram had a good game with 77 yards rushing, 4 catches, and a receiving TD. Tight end Coby Fleener was over 100 yards with a TD grab. The younger receivers are starting to step up, with rookie Michael Thomas making a TD grab, Brandon Coleman hauling in 7 grabs, and 5'6" sparkplug Tommylee Lewis getting involved. Willie Snead has become a top Brees target. All in all, they had 474 yards of offense. Alas, the issue is on the other side of the ball.
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The Saints have a big problem with a defense that simply is not up to NFL standards. They can maybe deliver an OK performance from time to time, as they did in week 2 by holding the Giants to 16 points. Against Atlanta at home in a big MNF game, they were hopeless. They gave up 7 yards per run, with Devonta Freeman going nuts on the ground and through the air. RB Tevin Coleman scored three touchdowns. They let Atlanta score five touchdowns on a robust 7 red-zone visits. And even when the Saints' offense threatened to make it interesting, the defense wouldn't allow it to happen, as they kept on giving up points.
This could be a good spot for San Diego, but anyone who has dealt with them extensively knows they're not always the bargain they're cracked up to be. With a defense that is suddenly getting bit by the injury bug, it's not all that hard to envision the Saints getting some business done. But even a San Diego offense without its key weapons, they should be able to thrive in this spot and pull away late for the win and cover.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the San Diego Chargers minus 3.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the New Orleans vs. San Diego game from the comfort of your home by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!