Bolt Beat Week 4 staff picks: Saints vs. Chargers

Qualcomm Stadium will open its doors to a former San Diego Chargers quarterback on Sunday when two struggling teams look to gain some traction before its too late this year.

Drew Brees returns to San Diego for the first time since leaving the team over a decade ago to join the New Orleans Saints as a free agent. In that time, Philip Rivers has started every single game at quarterback for the Chargers. He’d love nothing more than to defeat the man he sat behind before taking over the position.

But while Brees and Rivers will garner much of the attention coming into this game, its the Chargers (1-2) vs. the Saints (0-3). The loser of this game will be fighting an uphill climb to do anything for the rest of this year, so its important for both teams.

If you’re expecting an offensive shootout, join the crowd. Pretty much everyone is. San Diego may have the edge in that department, as the defense for the Chargers can make some stops. The defense for New Orleans has been about as bad as the NFL has seen through the first three games of this season.

We asked the writers at Bolt Beat to give us their predictions. Each writer’s record for the season is in parenthesis.

John Burress (1-2): “Could be a shootout but I’m hoping the Bolts D continues to create turnovers and cuts down a little on yardage allowed. Offense needs to get back to running the ball effectively, take some pressure off Rivers. Time to hit them harder than they hit us!! Let ‘er rip! Chargers by 10.”

Bill Burgin (0-0): “This week it’s a tough call, the Saints are coming in at 0-3, and the Chargers will be looking to rebound after another tough loss. Not to mention it is Brees’ homecoming, and he will be playing with a little added intensity. If the Chargers can get the rush game going, and control the clock they can get back to .500. However, if they cant, I believe the fire power the Saints showed last week against the Falcons will be too much for the wounded Chargers defense to handle. Saints take this one 34-27.”

Conor Denton (1-2): “I think we all now know how good San Diego is at the moment. It’s slightly above average talent mixed in with below average coaching. As a result, the team will probably finish with 6-8 wins. Nonetheless, the Saints are awful. God awful. They make the Colts defense look like Minnesota’s. If we do not win this game behind Melvin Gordon and that O-Line, then I have lost the last inkling of hope I had in this coaching staff. The Chargers defense is two-faced. We never know how they are going to play. If I had to guess I’d expect this game to be a shootout. San Diego wins 34-24 and climbs back to .500 on the year.”

Sean Begler (1-2): “This week would have been an easy pick for a Chargers win if it wasn’t for the poor performance last week against the Colts. It’s hard to say any game is winnable now if the team doesn’t find a way to lock up the middle of the field. The Saints are coming to town, and that means Drew Brees. Nuts. I didn’t think last week was going to be much of a shootout, but this week it sure seems likely. Facing the Giants week two was the only time the Saints scored less than 30 points, and the Colts game was the only time the Chargers scored less than 30. That said the Chargers have somewhat of a defense, compared to a seemingly nonexistent one in the Saints. I give this game to the Chargers 37-28. I wouldn’t go betting on the Chargers though.”

Louis Gorini (2-1): I can’t get last weeks game out of my head. It was supposed to be a shoot out and the Chargers faced an inferior, more desperate team and lost. This week has the same narrative and I see the same result. Everyone is quick to say the Saints defense is horrid, but so were the Colts and San Diego’s offense under performed. The Chargers offense is down too many playmakers, and teams are starting to focus on stopping Gordon which results in a sputtering offense. Drew Brees sticks it to the Chargers in his home coming and the Saints come away with their first win of the year. Chargers 23 Saints 27.”

Derek Anselmo (1-1): “After watching the Saints play on Monday night, I think the Chargers edge this one out. The Saints defense is just plain bad. Look for Rivers to bounce back from a bad performance last week. Chargers win a much needed game. Chargers -35, Saints- 28.”

Matt Pagels (2-1): “The Chargers blew a second fourth-quarter lead this season when they lost to the Colts. This week they face a similar team in the Saints: They have a good offense but bad defense. The Saints also come into this game winless. It’s the first time since 2005 that former Chargers QB Drew Brees will be in San Diego. It’s going to be a showdown between two of the best QBs in the game, but Philip Rivers gets his team to .500 and LaDainian Tomlinson tells Rivers he meant to pick him over Brees as the team’s QB jn 2006.”

Travis Wakeman (2-1): “Just how bad is the defense in New Orleans? I don’t remember seeing one that was worse and while most people will talk about Philip Rivers and the passing game, go back and take a look at  what Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman did on the ground against the Saints last week. Melvin Gordon should have a huge day, racking up well over 100 yards. I expect the defense to bend a bit as well, but playing at home and against that defense, you have to give this one to San Diego. Chargers 34, Saints 30.”

What do you think the final score will be? Who will play a key role in the victory and/or defeat for the Chargers? Let us know in the comments section below.

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