This Sunday marks the first time Drew Brees makes his return to San Diego since leaving in free agency for the Saints in March of 2006. Brees owns a 2-0 record against the Chargers since his departure from America’s finest city.
While the Chargers are a couple of plays and injuries away from being 3-0, the Saints are as well. New Orleans looked as if they were going to go 1-0 until the Raiders scored with 52 seconds left and Jack Del Rio elected to go for two and the win instead of the tie. The Saints failed to get into field goal range and lost a heartbreaker to fall to 0-1.
The Chargers lost a heartbreaker to the Chiefs in Week 1, as well. In Week 2, the Saints’ defense held the New York Giants’ offense in check, but lost a tough one 16-13; largely in part to a blocked field goal attempt which was returned for a touchdown.
Their Week 3 contest proved no different, as they lost a shootout to the Falcons 45-32. The Saints have fallen to 0-4 only twice in the Drew Brees’ era, and one of those seasons – 2012 – they ended their losing skid against the Chargers.
Brees is an excellent Quarterback. Despite being vertically challenged for his position, it makes me appreciate his game even more having to stand on his toes to make plays at times. He has a serious weapon who cannot be overlooked in Brandin Cooks, who I believe is a better version of T.Y Hilton, and can cause serious problems for this defense come Sunday if they aren’t well prepared.
Mark Ingram a solid back who’s off to a bit of a slow start but San Diego is notorious for letting players get hot. Willie Snead has emerged as a top target for Brees, but he has a toe injury that caused him to miss his last start against the Falcons. Should he play against the Bolts this Sunday, containing him and Cooks will be a really tough challenge.
I can see this game being a high-scoring shootout, seeing as the New Orleans’ defense ranks 31st in the league. They’re giving up 299 passing yards a game and 149.3 yards on the ground.
San Diego’s defense ranks 25th in the league, giving up 322 passing yards a game and 81 yards on the ground.
Drew Brees currently is 1st in the league passing with eight touchdowns and only one interception while throwing for 1,025 yards.
On the other side, Philip Rivers has 755 passing yards with five TDs and no interceptions. Granted, San Diego is a more leveled offense this year having more running plays than passing plays and the Saints have been in two shootouts; so it warrants a team to pass more than run.
Let’s take a look at how the Brees-Rivers matchup has looked in 2012 and 2008.
In 2012, the Chargers and Saints played a close game in which the Saints came out on top 31-24. A couple of questionable calls on the last drive ultimately stalled the Chargers from possibly tying the game up. A couple of holding calls and an offensive pass interference killed all the momentum the Bolts had going on their final drive. Rivers passed for 354 yards with a pair of touchdowns and one interception, while Brees threw for 370 yards slinging four passing scores and one interception.
In 2008, it was a similar result. The Saints took that matchup, 37-32. Brees and Rivers had identical numbers in that matchup as well, throwing for three touchdowns and roughly 340 yards.
Historically, the Saints have been a tough team for the Chargers to beat. It is like Brees has the cheat sheet to barely escape with victories over his former team. In my opinion, this game on Sunday will once again be a close one. There are a couple of things that the Chargers need to do and do well to keep Brees and company. on their toes and against the ropes.
Melvin Gordon has had a good year up to this point, scoring a TD in every game so far and two in Week 2. His four rushing scores tie him for the league-lead in rushing touchdowns. He currently has 194 yards and has been running with confidence and has patience. He has not fumbled yet this year in 54 carries (I’m hoping I don’t jinx him). He will play a huge role in this game. I want to forget about that Colts’ game as a whole, because I felt like while the Chargers only lost by four, they should’ve won by at least seven. They were out of sync for a large part of the game.
Which brings me to my next key: Philip Rivers trusting his receivers.
Philip looked off that game, missing a wide-open touchdown to the newly acquired Dexter McCluster in the endzone, and a crucial 3rd down to wideout Travis Benjamin which would’ve essentially put the nail in the coffin and given the Chargers the win.
It is never easy losing your top two targets and having your No. 1 all-time target out for the game, but Philip must find a way to get on the same page with his receivers. Benjamin is almost always open and Tyrell Williams is a beast waiting to be awakened. They did look as if they were going to make an interesting ending to the game, until rookie tight end Hunter Henry fumbled on the 40-yard line. But that doesn’t take anything away from what Henry has done. He’s been brilliant for the Chargers, especially as a blocker, but he has flashed some of the receiving ability that made the Bolts select him in the second round of this year’s draft.
Lastly, my final key is getting a consistent pass rush. Melvin Ingram, the newly elected team captain after Te’o went down for the season with a torn Achilles, will have a big game here. He has two sacks on the season so and he happens to be in a contract year. Due to his recently appointed captaincy and the fact that he is in a contract year, I think a flame will be lit under his tail to kick it into high gear and perform consistently the way we all know he can.
So, with all that being said, I believe the Chargers can squeak out a win despite Drew Brees being hungry and being eager to return to the Q to play the NFL team who drafted him. It will be a back-and-forth affair with the Chargers pulling ahead by 10 late in the 4th for a 31-21 Chargers victory and the Bolts will move to 2-2.
Let me know what you think below in the comments section, Chargers fans.