SAN DIEGO — It’s early in the regular season, but Sunday’s matchup at Qualcomm features two sides whose seasons are in danger of slipping away.
Entering Week 4, New Orleans is still winless; San Diego, on the other hand, has had its hopes virtually taken away with injuries to WR Keenan Allen and RB Danny Woodhead. Still, there’s chance to turn things around and the Chargers could use a win at home before back-to-back AFC West contests over the upcoming two weeks.
Here are a few things to note prior to Sunday’s matchup:
Vegas vs AccuScore Simulation Data
At the time of publication, Vegas odds indicate the Chargers are 4-point home favorites, with the total set at 54. AccuScore simulation data, however, provides a bit more value on the road team, listing the Saints as just 1-point ‘dogs compared to 4. New Orleans covers a +4 spread in nearly 59 percent of simulations.
Brees & Rivers
It’ll be Saints QB Drew Brees‘ first time back in San Diego since he left his former team and joined the Saints in 2006; he’s 2-0 against his former team in that span, completing close to 69 percent of his passes with 709 yards, 7 TDS and just one INT.
Despite the Saints struggling to win a game, Brees has been on point – as per usual. He has 8 TDS compared to just one INT so far this season, with a passer rating of 105.1.
San Diego QB Philip Rivers, on the other hand, has five TDs and zero INTs on the season. Rivers hasn’t had a special performance yet, only going over 250 passing yards against Indianapolis. WR Travis Benjamin is the only Charger to eclipse the 100-yard mark through three games.
Brees Projected Stats: 301 passing yards, 2 TDS, 104.5 passer rating
Rivers Projected Stats: 315 passing yards, 2 TDS, 100.1 passer rating
In simulations, Rivers averages more passing yards (314.6 vs 301.0), but also more INTs (0.5 vs 0.4).
Can SD have a balanced attack?
The New Orleans’ defense isn’t necessarily known for anything specific – which usually tends to be bad news – but they have shown this season they’re capable of being the better unit. New Orleans – in a loss – held both NY Giants WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz to under 100 yards. The Giants also rushed for just 64 yards that game.
With that said though, it’s only fair to bring up one glaring stat about this Saints defense the Chargers face: the Saints defense allowed the most plays of 20-plus yards (17) in the first three weeks.
San Diego WRs Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin should be expected to have strong performances, but it’ll take a balanced effort to ensure the win.
Williams is averaging 18.3 yards per catch; keep an eye on his production in the first half and how many targets he has compared to Benjamin.
In simulations, it’s actually WR Hunter Henry who has the highest probability of finding the end-zone, averaging 0.8 TDS per sim.