SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (3-1)
at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (0-4)
Kickoff: Sunday, 8:25 p.m. EDT
Line: New Orleans -3˝, Total: 54
The Saints are in dire straits, looking for their first win of the season as they welcome the surprising Chargers to the Bayou on Sunday night.
Typically slow starters, San Diego has jumped out to a 3-1 record as they’ve committed multiple turnovers in a game just once through four games. They haven’t quite been explosive on offense, but QB Philip Rivers and especially RB Ryan Mathews will have a chance to get going against a Saints defense that is the NFL’s worst (463 total YPG allowed). They have allowed 400-plus yards in each of their four games. New Orleans had a chance to steal a win in Green Bay last week, but lost on a late missed field goal. That gives the Saints four defeats of eight points or less this year.
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Rivers bounced back from rough Week 3 game against Atlanta (45.2 QB rating, 4.6 YPA, 0 TD, 2 INT), by completing 18-of-23 passes (78%) for 209 yards, 2 TD and 1 INT in the 37-20 win over Kansas City last Sunday. RB Ryan Mathews had another solid day as he works his way back from a broken clavicle, compiling 61 rushing yards (4.4 YPC) and 21 receiving yards. RB Jackie Battle is sharing the rushing workload for now, but he gained just 39 yards on 15 carries (2.6 YPC) at Kansas City. On the defensive side of the ball, San Diego’s secondary is hurting, with just three healthy cornerbacks. But the Chargers have really stopped the run effectively all season, allowing just 79 rushing YPG (5th in NFL). The defense also forced six Chiefs turnovers in last week’s win.
Saints QB Drew Brees has thrown a touchdown pass in 47 straight games, tying the record set by Johnny Unitas in 1960. The last time he faced his former team was 2008 when New Orleans and San Diego met in London. Brees threw for 339 yards and 3 TD that day, leading his team to a 37-32 win. He’s also coming off his best performance of 2012, posting a 109.0 QB rating (446 pass yds, 3 TD, 0 INT) against Green Bay. It helped to have a healthy Marques Colston back on the field, as the duo connected nine times for 153 yards and 1 TD. One of the reasons New Orleans has allowed 32.5 PPG and 167 more yards than any other NFL team is the lack of a pass rush. The Saints have just six sacks, which is the fourth-lowest total in the league. Injuries have also been a big factor to the front seven. LB David Hawthorne (hamstring) and DE Turk McBride (ankle) are doubtful to play on Sunday, while DT Brodrick Bunkley (illness) and LB Jonathan Casillas (neck) are both questionable. S Roman Harper (hip) is also questionable to suit up in Week 5.