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The defending Super Bowl champions are back at it on Friday night with an NFL preseason betting war, as the New Orleans Saints try to tackle the San Diego Chargers in a nationally televised game seen on CBS.
San Diego Chargers @ New Orleans Saints (-3.5)
Friday, August 27th
8:00 ET, Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, LA
Chargers Notes: The Bolts are going to be playing their first preseason betting affair on Friday night after splitting a pair of games both SU and ATS at the friendly confines of Qualcomm Stadium. Though this is supposed to be a game in which the starters play at least a half of football if not into the third quarter, we still aren't sure whether the heart and soul of the defense, LB Shawne Merriman will be giving it a go or not. "Lights Out" has had his lights turned off thanks to an Achilles injury that leaves him listed as questionable for this one in New Orleans. With the Astroturf on the ground in the Superdome, San Diego might lean towards leaving Merriman on the sidelines. One man that will certainly not be sidelined is RB Ryan Mathews. The rookie out of Fresno State is already starting to live up to the hype that he started taking when he was picked as the preseason favorite for the Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. He has rushed for a team high 103 yards, though he is still looking for his first professional touchdown in this, his third game of the preseason. The defense for the Bolts has been stifling so far in the preseason. The team ranks first in the league against the rush (51.0 YPG), fifth against the pass (154.0 YPG), second in total defense (205.0 YPG), and eighth in points allowed (13.0). To top that off, opposing teams have only found the end zone twice against San Diego this year.
Saints Notes: New Orleans is going to look to change all of those defensive numbers this week when they welcome the Chargers to town. This is one of the highest flying offenses in the league right now, as New Orleans is averaging a league best 31.0 points per game in its exhibitions. However, whereas the Saints have traditionally been a pass first team, that hasn't been the case in the preseason. QB Drew Brees has done very little, as he hasn't even cracked 100 passing yards in two games. Third stringer QB Chase Daniel has put up respectable numbers, throwing for 232 yards and three TDs against two picks, but the real damage has come on the ground. Four rushers have at least 50 yards on the ground so far in the preseason. RB Christopher Ivy leads the way with 26 carries, 96 yards, and a TD. RB Reggie Bush has crossed the end zone twice and has 66 yards on 12 carries, while projected starter RB Pierre Thomas has 51 yards on 15 carries. The problem here is the health of the fourth of those running backs, PJ Hill. Hill, a second year man out of Wisconsin, suffered a season ending injury last week which only further depletes a rushing core that is significantly weaker than it seems based on preseason numbers. Ivory, Bush, and Thomas are the only three running backs of any merit left on the team, as Lynell Hamilton was already erased for the year in training camp before the preseason started.
The Final Word: Still, the Saints are ready to march forward with one more comfortable victory before the regular season gets started in a couple weeks. New Orleans has a lot to prove in this game, as the Chargers are projected to potentially have the best record in the NFL this year. The Saints would love nothing more than to both get the passing game going and to make a statement to one of the best teams that the AFC has to offer as it continues its Super Bowl XLIV defense.
Prediction: Saints 27 – Chargers 16