San Diego Chargers
(1-1, 1-1 ATS)
New Orleans Saints
(1-1, 1-1 ATS)
The Louisiana Superdome will be the site of yet another fantastic NFL preseason betting battle on Friday night, as the host New Orleans Saints will lock horns with the San Diego Chargers in what could amount to be a very early look at Super Bowl XLV.
The Chargers are going to be using this game to get a look at what their offense is probably going to look like at the outset of the regular season. QB Philip Rivers is probably the most concerned about the fact that WR Vincent Jackson is still holding out, especially since the team is now talking about trading him. Still, Rivers is going to have to work with what he has, and that means a limited receiving corps where his best option is to find TE Antonio Gates. Gates has only caught a pair of passes for 12 yards in the preseason, but then again, Rivers has only gone 15-of-21 for 187 yards with a TD and an INT as well. The key is going to be the play of RB Ryan Mathews and his backup, Michael Tolbert. With RB Darren Sproles doing a lot of resting, the Bolts are relying on the rookie out of Fresno State to do more of the workload. Mathews is answering the bell so far, as he has 21 carries for 103 yards. Tolbert has 16 rushes for 51 yards and one of the two rushing TDs for the team in the preseason.
New Orleans got some terrible news this week when RB PJ Hill was declared out for the entire season. He makes two running backs this year that the Saints have lost, as Lynell Hamilton is also done for the year. There is a huge gap in the lineup beyond Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas that must be filled, as there really isn’t a prototypical power back left in the bunch at this point. Oh well. More work for the passing game. It’s not like QB Drew Brees hasn’t heard that one before, as he is probably going to be shooting at his fifth straight 4,000+ yard passing year in 2010. Brees hasn’t been asked to do much either in the preseason, as he has only gone 14-of-23 for 91 yards. The work has really fallen on the lap of third stringer Chase Daniel, who might not play in this game. He has gone 21-of-30 for 232 yards with three scores and two picks. Daniel is vying to become Brees’ immediate backup.
We tend to believe that both passing attacks are going to get going in a hurry, and if that’s the case, the Saints are going to be ridiculously hard to beat, especially for a secondary that is still trying to cut and paste itself together in the absence of the departed DB Antonio Cromartie. Look for San Diego to get a huge wakeup call that it just isn’t that good this week when the Saints march all over the Bolts.
Selection: New Orleans Saints -3.5