What to expect: Chargers’ Week 4 preview and predictions

The San Diego Chargers host the New Orleans Saints in Week 4. Here is my preview and predictions.

Recap: The result of last week’s game is sadly something many Chargers fans are used to by now. How many times have we seen it? I am sure, like most of you, I knew this game was over when the Chargers got the ball back with just over five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Usually for the Chargers, that game ends by not being able to keep the ball away from the Colts, and just before time expires they kick a game-winning field goal.

Not exactly what happened last Sunday, but the result was the same. It’s not very often the best offensive and defensive players both play bad in the same game, but it happened. Jason Verrett had a forgettable game covering T.Y. Hilton, who finished with eight receptions for 174 yards and a game-winning 63-yard touchdown.

Philip Rivers also missed some easy passes that he normally makes in his sleep. The three big ones that stood out for me was the missed TD pass to Dexter McCluster, the possible touchdown pass to Melvin Gordon and the missed throw to Travis Benjamin on third down towards the end of the game. If Rivers converts that pass to Benjamin, we probably win the game.

Overall, the Chargers really beat themselves out there vs. the Colts with penalties and bad play. The Chargers look to bounce back this Sunday at home vs. Drew Brees and the Saints.

The matchup: New Orleans Saints vs. San Diego Chargers; Qualcomm Stadium; 1:25 p.m (PST).

If the Chargers plan to win this game, they need to exploit the terrible defense of the Saints by controlling the clock and playing keep away from Brees. Brees can’t beat us on the sideline. Keep him there as much as possible, and we have a chance. A few factors that get us back to .500 vs. the Saints go as followed:

First major factor: CONTAIN BREES! The only reason the Saints will win this game is because of Brees. The game plan should be to do whatever is necessary to make Brees’ return to San Diego a bad one. The Chargers will need to adjust with Brandon Flowers (concussion) being out for this game. They will need to find ways to send pressure Brees’ way, as cornerbacks can’t guard wide receivers all day. If the Chargers give Brees time to throw like they did for the most part vs. Andrew Luck, they will not win this game. Period. No matter how bad the Saints’ defense is, Rivers won’t outduel Brees in a shootout.

Sep 26, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) sits on the turf after being tackled on a fourth down play during the fourth quarter of a game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Falcons defeated the Saints 45-32. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Second major factor: Protect Rivers. I say it every week and I will continue to say it. Rivers is the best player on this team, and given the right time, he is money. Rivers is not going to miss those same throws twice. The offensive line is starting to get a little banged up, but it’s important that Rivers gets time to get the ball out clean. The Saints’ pass rush isn’t overwhelming in any fashion, so we need to control the line of scrimmage.

Third major factor: Touchdowns in the red zone. Just as important as controlling the clock is, we have to get touchdowns in the red zone. The Chargers need to establish a solid run game on Sunday, but they can’t do that if they get behind early. Every trip to the red zone needs to be touchdowns because having the lead allows San Diego to control the flow. It is important that we don’t run the ball well and swap field goals for touchdowns vs. a very high-powered offense. Take advantage of every opportunity, get ahead early and never let off.

My prediction: I have to be honest here…after the Colts game, I was convinced this game was going into the loss column. As of Monday night, however, I think the Chargers win this game. I have to admit, this almost feels like a homer pick; but after seeing what Matt Ryan did to the Saints’ defense, I couldn’t resist taking the boys. After stopping the Falcons on the first drive of the game, the Saints gave up six scoring drives in a row.

Basically what it comes down to for me is, the Saints’ defense is just too soft not to beat up, and our defense is better than the Falcons’. We should be able to do a better job of containing Brees than the Falcons did and score just as easy. Had this game been in New Orleans, I may have taken the Saints, but in San Diego I have to give the Chargers the nod here. I think Rivers is too good to have two bad performances back to back. I say Rivers finishes with four TDs and 300 yards. Chargers climb back up to .500 with a much needed win.

FINAL SCORE: Chargers – 35, Saints – 28

 

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