The San Diego Chargers return home looking to even their record at 2-2 when they host the New Orleans Saints. Kickoff is set for Sunday at 1:25pm PT.
A Look Back At Last Week
The Bolts dropped another heartbreaker on the road, falling 26-22 to the Indianapolis Colts. After going over 150 yards in each of their first two games, the offense was only able to muster 37 yards on the ground. Still, Melvin Gordon found the end zone for the third straight week and now has four TDs on the year. Defensively, Casey Hayward recorded his third INT and Caraun Reid scooped up a loose fumble and rumbled 61-yards for a defensive touchdown. However, they were only able to sack Andrew Luck twice, allowing the QB to find T.Y. Hilton eight times for 174 yards, including the game-winning 63-yard touchdown in the final minute.
What to Watch For…
On Offense for the Chargers
Philip Rivers is the first quarterback in franchise history to not throw a pick in the team’s first three games of the season since Stan Humphries in 1994. With a clean sheet against the Saints, he’ll become the only QB to be perfect in that regard over the first four games. Travis Benjamin leads all receivers in catches (17) and yards (229), while Tyrell Williams has 11 receptions for 201. On the ground, Melvin Gordon is tied for the most touchdowns in the NFL through the first three weeks of the season with four, having found pay dirt each game this year.
On Offense for the Saints
Eleven years after last suiting up for the Chargers, Drew Brees returns to Qualcomm Stadium for the first time as a member of the opposition. The 37-year old leads the league in completions, passing yards and touchdowns over the first three weeks, completing 93 of 140 passes this year (66.4%) for 1,062 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 105.1. His top weapon is third year wideout Brandin Cooks, who has 15 catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns. He is a threat to take it to the house each time he touches the ball, evidenced by his 98-yard TD earlier this season. Meanwhile, rookie wide receiver Michael Thomas leads the Saints in receptions with 17. On the ground, Mark Ingram has carried the rock 36 times for 165 yards, averaging 4.6 yards per attempt.
On Defense for the Chargers
The defense takes the field without one of their leaders as captain Manti Te’o will miss the rest of the season with a torn Achilles. Fifth round pick Jatavis Brown has flashed, and now is expected to take on more responsibility with number 50 out of the lineup. Nick Dzubnar and Joshua Perry also might see an uptick in playing time. In the back end, Casey Hayward has three interceptions on the year, which is already the most by a Charger since 2011.
On Defense for the Saints
Outside linebacker Craig Robertson leads the NFL with 35 tackles, which is more than double his nearest teammates (Safety Jairus Byrd and LB James Laurinaitis). Defensive linemen Nick Fairley and Cameron Jordan are tied with a team-high 1.5 sacks.
The Chargers lead the all-time series 7-4; however, New Orleans has won the last two meetings. San Diego last hosted the Saints in 2004, earning a 43-17 victory.
By the Numbers
The Chargers rank 17th in total offense (367.3 yards per game), 15th in passing (253.0 ypg), 12th in rushing (114.0 ypg) and third in points (29.0). The Saints rank third in total offense (423.0 ypg), first in passing (341.7 ypg), 28th in rushing (81.3 ypg) and ninth in points (26.3)
Defensively, the Bolts rank 25th in total defense (403.7 ypg), 30th in passing (322.0 ypg), sixth in rushing (81.7 ypg) and 19th in points allowed (24.3). New Orleans ranks 31st in total defense (448.3 ypg), 25th in passing (299.0 ypg), 32nd in rushing (149.3 ypg) and 31st in points allowed (32.0).
Milestones on the Horizon
Philip Rivers is tied Stan Humphries for the most pass attempts to open a season without an interception with 99. One more attempt without a pick will set a new record.
Rivers is four touchdown passes away from tying Johnny Unitas (290) for 10th all-time in NFL history. He is five shy of Warren Moon for ninth.
Antonio Gates is six touchdown catches shy of Tony Gonzalez (111) for most ever by a tight end and sixth for any player in NFL history.
What to Watch For….
Travis Benjamin has a catch of at least 43 yards in each of the last two games. With one more against New Orleans, he’d become the first Charger since Bobby Duckworth in 1984 with a catch of 43 yards or longer in three consecutive games.
Chargers defenders have recorded interceptions in each of the first three games. Another one on Sunday would mark the first time since 2002 that San Diego’s defense has collected interceptions in each of the first four games of a season.
San Diego’s defense has held its first three opponents to less than 93 yards rushing. If the Bolts hold the Saints to less than 93 yards on the ground, it would mark the first time doing so since 2006.
Noteworthy vs. the Saints
In three career games against New Orleans, Antonio Gates has caught 14 passes for 171 yards and four touchdowns.
Philip Rivers passed for a season-high 354 yards in 2012 against New Orleans. In two career games vs. the Saints, he is 52 of 82 for 692 yards with five touchdowns and just two interceptions for a passer rating of 100.4.
In 2012, defensive tackle Corey Liuget had a team-high three passes defensed and his first sack of the season.
Playing for St. Louis in 2013, Kellen Clemens tied his career high with two touchdown passes against the Saints.
Dwight Lowery had a sack and forced fumble in a 30-14 win with Atlanta in 2014. Playing for Jacksonville in 2011, Lowery had a season-high 11 stops and two passes defensed against the Saints.
Guard D.J. Fluker was born in New Orleans.
Safety Dexter McCoil was born in Metairie, Louisiana. He was a two-time 3A state champion in football at Lutcher (La.) High School.
Defensive Coordinator John Pagano was a defensive assistant for the Saints from 1996-97. Pagano was also a graduate assistant at Louisiana Tech in 1994.
Offensive Line Coach Jeff Davidson finished his playing career with the Saints in 1994. Davidson immediately served as a volunteer assistant coach in New Orleans in 1995 and an offensive assistant in 1996.
Assistant Defensive Backs Coach Chris Harris played collegiately at Louisiana-Monroe.
Director of Player Personnel JoJo Wooden’s older brother, Terry Wooden, works as a college scout for the Saints.
Senior Executive Randy Mueller spent two seasons (2000-01) as the general manager of the Saints.
National Scout Tom McConnaughey signed with New Orleans as a wide receiver in 1981.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees was a second-round pick by the Chargers in 2001. Brees played five seasons in San Diego from 2001-05, leading the team to an AFC West title and a 12-4 record in 2004.
Saints Head Coach Sean Payton coached two stints at San Diego State. The first came from 1988-89 as quarterbacks coach, and he later returned from 1992-93 as running backs coach. One of his star pupils was All-America Marshall Faulk.
Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael spent 2002-05 in San Diego as a quality control assistant and assistant wide receivers coach.
Assistant Special Teams Coach Stan Kwan played baseball at San Diego State before serving as an offensive and special teams assistant with the Chargers from 1991-96.
Wide Receivers Coach John Morton coached the same position at the University of San Diego in 1995 under former Chargers quarterback Jim Harbaugh.
Know Your Opponent
Know Your Opponent: New Orleans Saints
Take a closer look at who the Chargers will face this Sunday at the Q for Week 4.
FOX (Channel 5 in San Diego) – Chris Myers (play-by-play), Ronde Barber (analyst) and Jennifer Hale (reporter)
Rock 105.3 FM, XTRA Sports 1360 (San Diego)– Josh Lewin (play-by-play), Nick Hardwick (analyst) and Mike Costa (reporter)
Spanish Radio –XHFG 107.3 (San Diego)– Jorge Villanueva (play-by-play) and Tony Alvarez (analyst)
All Chargers radio broadcasts are now being streamed live on the team’s official website, www.chargers.com. XTRA Sports 1360 Broadcasts with Josh Lewin (play-by-play) and Nick Hardwick (analyst) will begin two hours before kickoff and continue for 90 minutes of postgame coverage.
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