There are plenty of storylines surrounding the preseason Week 3 matchup between the New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Chargers, and that’s probably why it will be the first national telecast for CBS. Both clubs are coming off strong seasons and are in position to contend for a title in their respective conference. Then, of course, there’s that whole quarterback thing. Drew Brees and Philip Rivers were teammates on the Chargers when the club decided to stick with Rivers and let Brees walk as a free agent. The Saints scooped him up and the rest, as they say, is history.
This contest in Week 3 of the preseason will go down Saturday, August 25, 2018, at 8 p.m. ET at StubHub Center. The game will air live on CBS.
NFL Opening Odds at BookMaker.eu
New Orleans Saints +2
Los Angeles Chargers -2
It’s hard to bet against Sean Payton in dress rehearsal games since all he does is win. Payton has a losing record overall in tune-up matches, but during Week 3 he owns a 9-3 career record. His Saints are 2-point dogs in this one with the total hitting the board at 44.
Brees has yet to take the field this preseason, but finding a competent backup is further up the list than getting the veteran some snaps in a meaningless game. We will see Brees this week for most of the first half if Sean Payton sticks to his preseason routine. Brees played the dress rehearsal last year completing 11 of 15 passes for 76 yards. It was his only preseason action.
The backup job is up for grabs and Payton will take a long look at Tom Savage, Taysom Hill and J.T. Barrett in hopes of figuring something out. The way things are going a deal for Teddy Bridgewater or even signing, gulp, Colin Kaepernick should be considered. Savage has the gig for now, but not because of anything he’s done on the field. Hill has been worse and his four-turnover outing last week didn’t help. The Saints better hope that at 39, Brees holds up for at least another season.
Getting his first preseason action last week, Rivers was 4 of 4 on the Chargers’ opening drive that ended in a Melvin Gordon touchdown run. Rivers completed his first six throws and played two series before exiting. He finished 6 of 7 with 62 yards. Like the Saints, the Bolts have a battle for the backup job. But at least their reserves can play.
Geno Smith made a push for the role with a strong game against Seattle. He was 6 of 8 for 85 yards with a touchdown, though the scoring grab had more to do with Mike Williams, who made an acrobatic grab. Cardale Jones got a few snaps last week and completed 3 of 4 for 27 yards, but he was sacked twice.
Matchup to Watch
We’ll only get it for a half at most, but it will be a battle in the trenches. The Saints have assembled one of the better offensive lines in the game, and they need it to keep Brees upright and on the field. The last pick in the first round in 2017, Ryan Ramczyk started every game at tackle for the Saints last season. He and Terron Armstead will have their hands full against the Bolts’ fierce edge rushers.
The Saints allowed just 20 sacks last season behind only the Bolts for fewest in the NFL. One thing the Chargers did well on defense was get after the quarterback. The Bolts had 43 sacks with edge rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram accounting for 22.5 sacks between them. This will be a struggle up front as long as the starters are on the field.
Free ATS Pick
The teams met for joint practices and a preseason game last year, only that took place in Week 2 and we didn’t see Brees or Rivers take the field. They are both scheduled to play on Saturday and that makes this an intriguing matchup. Payton really needs to get his backup QB problem ironed out and we’ll probably see Brees take a seat earlier than he normally would. Other than that there are no pressing issues for the Saints.
Dare I say we could be eyeing a Super Bowl preview in this one? That’s certainly not out of the question considering how stacked and well balanced both clubs are. The Bolts have the edge at the backup QB spot and that will probably be enough to lift them to a win and cover.
NFL Betting Odds: Chargers 23, Saints 20
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