- Michael Thomas could return to the Saints starting lineup
- Chargers rookie Justin Herbert looks like he belongs
- New Orleans is 2-5 ATS in their last seven home games
The Chargers rookie quarterback did his part, but the defense couldn’t support his efforts in a 38-31 loss at Tampa Bay. Justin Herbert finished 20-for-25 for 290 yards and three touchdowns. However, LAC’s secondary got torched by Tom Brady to the tune of 369 yards and five touchdowns. In the end, it’s hard to win cover and/or win on the road when the defense turns Swiss-cheese and why the Chargers fell to 1-3 straight up, but picked up an ATS win, +7.5, to improve to 2-1-1 against the spread.
The Saints scored 35 unanswered points in a Week 4 win over the Lions. The fact that they needed to in order to win is the problem. New Orleans improved to 2-2 overall and against the spread in the 36-29 road win.
|Week 5: Los Angeles Chargers vs New Orleans Saints Game Info|
|Date: October 12, 2020, 8:15 p.m. ET|
|Stadium: Mercedes Benz Superdome|
|TV Coverage: ESPN|
|Opening Odds: Saints -7.5 | O/U 52|
|How to Bet: Best Online Sportsbook Reviews|
New Orleans opened and remain 7.5-point home favorites over Los Angeles. The Chargers moneyline opened at +284 and remains in that range as of Monday morning. The point total opened and remains at 52. The total has gone OVER in six of the Saints last seven games.
With most Chargers-Saints trends tied directly to Philip Rivers, it doesn’t make much sense to highlight those with Herbert now behind center.
However, it is worth noting that the Saints are 2-5 against the spread in their last seven home games and that’s typically with Michael Thomas healthy and active.
Los Angeles Chargers News and Notes
First the bad news. Star running back Austin Ekeler will miss several games due to a hamstring injury. One of, arguably, the most underrated running backs in the league, Ekeler accounts for 49.5 percent of the team’s rushing offense and has hauled in 17-of-17 targets for 144 yards. Like an Alvin Kamar, Ekeler’s ability to be used on all three downs and in the passing game is invaluable and will create a void within the Chargers offense. Rookie tailback Josh Kelley is the next man up. He averaged 4.4 yards per carry through the first three games.
Now the good news. Herbert has the Chargers passing game humming. In his three starts, he’s averaging 297.7 pass yards per game, sixth-best in the league. The Saints pass defense ranks in the middle of the pack.
Where the young quarterback can exploit New Orleans is on third down. Herbert is converting better than 52 percent on third, while the Saints defense ranks 27th on third down as they’ve allowed opposing offenses to convert nearly 50 percent of third downs. Matthew Stafford and the Lions were 7-of-14 on third last Sunday. These extended drives are a big reason why the Saints have looked so sloppy the first month of the season.
New Orleans Saints News and Notes
Reading NOLA’s Saints reporter Luke Johnson’s notebook from Sunday’s win over the Lions was chock full of positives.
“Here were a few of the areas in which New Orleans set season highs Sunday: Points (35), first downs (29), third down conversion percentage (71.4 %), red zone offense (4-for-4), total plays (69), rushing yards (164), yards per pass attempt (9.84) and time of possession (36:46).
That marked the first time since the 2015 season the Saints converted better than 70 percent of their third down attempts in a single game.”
And yet, New Orleans still appears out of sync compared to the well-oiled, high-octane offense we’ve grown accustomed to over the years.
Both Johnson and I noted a glaring issue in the box score and that was the fact the Lions converted four-of-five red zone trips and 50% of their third downs. You can’t live like that and, in most cases, you won’t cover +7.5 like that.
Whether or not All-Pro wide receiver Michael Thomas returns this week remains up in the air. He’s missed three games with a high-ankle sprain and if he sits out the Chargers game, the Saints have a Week 6 BYE and would provide him 42 days of rest and rehab. We’ll keep tabs on Thomas’ status throughout the week.
Betting Pick: Chargers +7.5
This is more a lack of faith in the Saints than it is a strong belief in Justin Herbert. Without Thomas, New Orleans came out flat at Detroit before steamrolling the Lions before letting Matthew Stafford creep back into the game late. Drew Brees and this offensive used to ooze – to borrow a metaphor from another sport – Mamba Mentality, but those days are behind them. The hook on the 7-and-a-hook has me leaning Chargers, but if Thomas decides to suit up, I could be swayed. End of the day, the OVER is in play here, too.