Drew Brees is about to break an impressive record. The last time he played a game without throwing a touchdown pass was Oct. 4, 2009. Sunday will be his 48th game since then — three full seasons. If he scores through the air in this one he will break the record set by Johnny Unitas way back in 1960. The fact that he has a chance to break the record against the team that gave up on him probably has some added significance. Or at least it would if there weren’t far more pressing matters on his mind.
If Brees and company were 3-1 or better, then the record pursuit would be the biggest storyline. At 0-4, though, trying to get a win is the only thing that matters for this team. It’s going to be very tough for the Saints to turn this season around at this point. Another loss — their third at home — would almost certainly put the final nail in this nightmare of a year. That would be pretty depressing for early October.
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Though the Brees revenge angle likely isn’t that significant, it is interesting to note that this is only the second time he has ever faced his former team. The first was back in 2008, in a 37-32 win that wasn’t as close as the score suggests. Brees was almost flawless on the day — far better than he has been so far this year.
Chargers at Saints Betting Storylines
There are a lot of people who shoulder a share of the blame for what has happened to the Saints so far. Near the front of the line, though, is defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The defense has been a serious liability, and the biggest reason for that is Spagnuolo’s inability to adjust to the personnel realities he is faced with. He has no real pass rushers, yet he insists on blitzing heavily, and he’s getting nowhere — just six sacks in four games. The defense doesn’t seem to have confidence in him, and even if they did it’s questionable whether they have the talent to do anything about it.
They are dead last in the league in total yards allowed, dead last against the run, and almost as bad against the pass. In short, it has been a truly horribly-coached defense, and that rests on Spagnuolo. He knew he was stepping into a tough situation given all the defense had been through, but it seems like he wasn’t ready for it. If he doesn’t get on his game then this team won’t be on its game either.
Luckily for the Saints, Philip Rivers isn’t having the season that we are used to from him so far. Outside of Week 3 against the Falcons, he has been accurate, completing 73 percent or more of his passes each week. That accuracy isn’t turning into yardage, though — he is 50 yards per game behind last year’s average in those three games. That fourth game against the Falcons was a total disaster. He passed for only 173 yards, his yards per attempt of 4.6 was pathetic, and both of the picks he threw were ugly. One bad game is forgivable — especially when he bounced back well — but all in all he hasn’t been the same quarterback we are used to.
It’s probably not a coincidence that Vincent Jackson is no longer around to be Rivers’ favorite target, or that Antonio Gates has been banged up. Unless the Saints tune up their defense, though, this could be the perfect spot for him to get back on track.
Brees, of course, has not been his normal self this year, either. Far from it, really. His last game, though, was just like the good old days: 65 percent completion rate, 446 yards, three touchdowns, and a 109 passer rating. That was a special day, and against a Packers defense that was more than sound against the pass all year. The test here will be to see if Brees is really back, or if that was just a blip on the otherwise underwhelming landscape.
Chargers at Saints NFL Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with the Saints favored by three points — essentially just the home-field advantage. It’s up to 3.5 in most spots, and even flirted with four before falling back down. About two-thirds of bets have come in on the home team. the total opened at 54 and has been stable at that level so far.
The Chargers are 6-0 ATS in their last six against teams with losing records, and 3-0-1 ATS in their last four on the road against losing teams. The surface may not suit them, though — they are 0-4 ATS in their last four played on FieldTurf. New Orleans has failed to cover a spread yet as a favorite this year — though that is obvious since they are winless.
NFL Predictions: Chargers at Saints Betting Picks
The Saints have been close to victory — they have been within eight points each time, and they have lost their last two by a combined four points. I really don’t like or trust their defense, but the Chargers haven’t been explosive or consistent this year, either. My problem is, though, that while I like the Saints at -3, I don’t like them nearly as much if I have to give up that hook. I still lean towards New Orleans, but not with any enthusiasm. This isn’t nearly as good of a game as it should have been. The total seems high. However, I don’t trust either defense, and both offenses are better than they have appeared. Therefore, I lean to the “over”.
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