The New Orleans Saints go into week five of the NFL season in need of a win. They face the San Diego Chargers, a 3-1 team that really hasn’t done enough to show how good they really are (8.20pm ET, Sunday).
The Saints are 0-4 on the season including losses to Kansas City, Carolina and Washington, all teams that are 1-3.
They have not performed even close to expectations and part of this could be down to the absence of head coach Sean Payton and assistant Joe Vitt. The Saints just haven’t looked themselves this season.
The Chargers’ wins came against Oakland, Tennessee and Kansas City. They were crushed in their game against the 4-0 Atlanta Falcons by 27-3.
With 12 games left to be played, the Saints are bound to have a turnaround and likely it will be sooner than later. Against the Chargers and with Brees and a potential history making performance on the line, this game could just be the one where the Saints return to relevance in the NFC South.
Drew Brees Takes Aim at Johnny Unitas’s Record of 47 Straight Games with a Touchdown Pass
When Johnny Unitas first began his NFL career, he was nothing more than a walk-on. Unitas had not been drafted and seemed like an afterthought until the Indianapolis Colts took a chance on him. When Unitas ended his career however, he went down as one of the best to ever play the position. He set an astounding record of 47 straight games with a touchdown pass, something many thought would stand the test of time.
52 years later, a quarterback who began his career with a bum shoulder and thoughts of if he would ever pan out to be an NFL talent, is on the precipice of breaking this very record. The stage is set for the Saints’ Drew Brees to break this record and with everything on the line for New Orleans, this sort of history-making performance could be just what the Saints need to save their season.
Having gotten off to a 0-4 start, there is not much of a silver lining on the Saints 2012 season. Considering they finished last year with a record of 13-3, their performance this year has been underwhelming.
What is of note however is that none of this can be faulted to Brees. After finishing as the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Year as he broke Dan Marino’s record for most passing yards in a season, Brees has once again given all that he can to his offense. Without Sean Payton calling the plays, Brees has been the offensive leader of this team. His only problem however is that with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams suspended indefinitely, New Orleans has struggled for any sort of consistency or success on the defensive side of the ball.
If Brees does set a new record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass, it won’t turn the Saints season around overnight. It also won’t fix the multitude of problems the team has on defense.
What it could do however is give this team and their QB some confidence going forward. Payton will be allowed to attend the game for the first time this season, so the team might have some added motivation.
Are the San Diego Chargers as Good as their Record Implies?
Typically when a team is 3-1, there is reason to believe that they have fielded a good team all season long. In the case of the San Diego Chargers however, it is really hard to believe that their 3-1 record is in fact indicative of anything. The best way to examine this is to look at the teams they have faced in 2012 and how those teams have fared this season.
To open the season, the Chargers barely beat an Oakland Raiders team that has managed just one win on the season. Behind QB Philip Rivers, the Chargers offense managed just one touchdown and benefited from three botched punts courtesy of the Raiders special teams. In a game Oakland really should have dominated, they just barely squeaked by.
In week two, the Chargers matched up against the 1-3 Tennessee Titans. In a more dominating performance, the San Diego offense shined behind Rivers and tight end Dante Rosario who caught all three of the QB’s touchdown passes. Running back Jackie Battle was also heavily involved in the offense as he ran for two scores and 69 yards.
After a week three beat down by the 4-0 Atlanta Falcons that saw the Chargers score just one field goal, the team went on to beat the 1-3 Kansas City Chiefs by 17 points. Rivers threw for 209 yards and Ryan Mathews added 61 yards in his first game back since sustaining a preseason clavicle injury.
Although the Chargers have performed well this season, it is really difficult to determine if they are 3-1 based on luck or talent. Even after they play the Saints at the Metrodome it still may not be a good test of how talented this team is. The Saints have one of the worst defenses in the NFL and could make Rivers and the run game appear better than they actually are.
While I wouldn’t count out the Chargers in the AFC South, I just think it is too soon to put them in the playoffs just yet. Their schedule only gets harder from here on out so as much as the Saints need this win for their season, in a way, the Chargers do as well.
Chargers v Saints Picks & Betting Tips
Despite the problems the Saints have faced all season, they are one of the best in the NFL when it comes to performance before a bye. They also have the motivation of Payton in attendance and Brees’ spot in the record books on the line. Add to this the fact that they are at home and it all points to a Saints victory.
- Take the Saints to beat the -3.5pt spread and get that elusive first win of the season Sunday night @ -110 with BetOnline (it is -4pts @ -105 with Bovada).