After a lengthy hiatus, the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Chargers are getting it on again in the NFL preseason. They played last season, the Saints winning a 13-7 decision over the Chargers in the first visit by New Orleans to Los Angeles since the Chargers relocated there from San Diego. This game will mark the first time the Chargers and Saints have clashed in consecutive preseasons since they met four years in a row from 1969-72.
The Chargers weren’t even in the NFL yet when they played host to the Saints as the AFL Chargers in 1969 and edged New Orleans 10-7. It’s been a homer series for the most part when these two two clash in preseason play. The home team won the first three games and has won two of the last three games. The only visiting wins were San Diego’s 16-14 verdict at New Orleans in 1972 and last season’s win by the Saints. The Saints were 0-3 in the preseason at San Diego.
Location, Location, Location – A real estate agent’s best friend is proving to be an enemy to the Chargers when it comes to play against the Saints. As the San Diego Chargers, they dominated the Saints at home in the preseason, winning three in a row and never tasting defeat. But last season, in their first home preseason game against the Saints as the Los Angeles Chargers, they were 13-7 losers. The Chargers weren’t as lucky against the Saints in San Diego during the regular season, going 3-3 in six meetings.
Lately, the Chargers have found three places where they can’t beat the Saints – at home, on the road, and elsewhere. Their most recent regular-season meeting was at San Diego in 2016, and saw the Saints eke out a 35-34 victory. In 2012 at New Orleans, the Saints won 31-24. And in 2008, the Saints won 37-32 in a game played at Wembley Staidium in London, England. The Chargers haven’t beaten the Saints ever in L.A., and their last win against them in San Diego was in 2004. They haven’t won at New Orleans since 1997.
Pile It Up – One thing you can be certain of when the Saints play the Chargers is that the offenses will be in high gear. The Chargers and Saints know how to score when they play each other. In five of the last six and eight of the last nine Chargers-Saints games, the total has gone over. They’ve combined to average 64.3 points in the past three games. Over the last 10 meetings, the combined total was an average of 55.6 points. In the past three games, both teams have topped the 30-point plateau.
Close Enough – Another thing we know about Saints-Chargers games – the outcome is likely to come right down to the wire. They’ve played each other 12 times during the NFL regular season, and in eight of those meetings, the final margin of victory was seven points or less. Twice there were one-point games, and twice there were three-point games. There’s also been a four, a five, a six and a seven-point verdict. The same formula holds forth in the preseason, Five of seven Chargers-Saints games were decided by less than a TD.
Peaceful, Brees-y Feeling – In a sense, this game is a homecoming for Saints quarterback Drew Brees, although this city wasn’t his home when he played for the San Diego Chargers from 2001-05. Seven times in his career, including three of the last four season, Brees has led the NFL in passing yardage, so you might be intrigued by a wager on offer at MyBookie. At +500, they have Brees listed as the second choice in their future book wager on who will lead the NFL is passing yardage in 2018.
Now, if you were to think that at age of 39, Brees is too old to lead the league in passing, think again. Last season’s leader with 4577 yards, New England’s Tom Brady, was 40. And at +330, Brady is MyBookie’s favorite to do it again. It should be noted that as league leader, Brees threw for more than 4577 yards in each season from 2014-16. MyBookie has odds of +1200 on Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers leading the league in passing, by the way.
Running Away With It – MyBookie has two Saints among the contenders for the lead in NFL rushing yardage this season, though neither seems to be a viable candidate. Alvin Kamara, the 2017 NFL offensive rookie of the year, is listed as a longshot at odds of +4000, but this time a year ago, his odds of being the NFL’s top offensive rookie were also sky high, so there’s that to consider. Backfield partner Mark Ingram will start the season under a four-game NFL suspension, and that’s caused his odds to skyrocket to +6500.
Chargers running back Melvin Gordon is listed as +1600 to be the NFL’s leading rusher in 2018. The chalk is Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys at +330. The last Chargers back to lead the NFL in rushing was LaDainian Tomlinson in back to back years from 2006-07. You’ve got to go all the way back to George Rogers in 1981 to find a Saints runner who finished on top of the league.
Receiving End – The Chargers suit up a legitimate threat to lead the NFL in receiving yardage and that is wideout Keenan Allen. MyBookie puts Allen at odds of +580 to do so, and that leaves Allen as the third betting choice to earn the honor, behind defending champ Antonio Brown (+250) of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Julio Jones (+300) of the Atlanta Falcons, the NFL’s receiving yardage leader in 2015. John Jefferson (1980) and Wes Chandler (1982) are the only Chargers to lead the NFL in receiving yards.
No Saints receiver has ever topped the league and that doesn’t figure to change this season. Michael Thomas of New Orleans is given odds of +1500 to be the NFL’s receiving yardage leader by MyBookie, and he’s behind six others on the list.