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Scouting Report: Saints vs. Chargers

San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) runs away from New Orleans Saints free safety Vonn Bell (48) during an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, in San Diego. The Saints defeated the Chargers, 35-34. (Ryan Kang via AP)
San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) runs away from New Orleans Saints free safety Vonn Bell (48) during an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, in San Diego. The Saints defeated the Chargers, 35-34. (Ryan Kang via AP)

The Los Angeles Chargers look for their second-straight preseason win when they host the New Orleans Saints in a nationally televised game. Kickoff from ROKiT Field at StubHub Center is set for 5:00 p.m. PT.

What to Watch For…

On Offense for the Chargers

Saturday night’s tilt marks a battle between two of the most potent offenses in the NFL a year ago. The Bolts ranked fourth in total offense, averaging 376.6 yards per game in 2017. The Chargers led the NFL in passing in 2017 with 4,431 net passing yards for 276.9 ypg. Philip Rivers ranked second in the league with 4,515 total passing yards. Keenan Allen had a record-breaking season for the Chargers in 2017 en route to sweeping Comeback Player of the Year honors. Allen broke the Chargers’ single-season receptions record, finishing fourth in the NFL with 102 catches. His 1,393 receiving yards were the second-most in a season in team history. On the ground, Melvin Gordon tallied his first 1,000-yard season by totaling 1,105 yards to rank seventh in the NFL.

On Offense for the Saints

New Orleans boasts last year’s second-ranked offense as they averaged 391.2 yards per game. Drew Brees completed 386-of-536 passes for 4,334 yards, 23 touchdowns and eight picks for a 103.8 passer rating. His top target was Michael Thomas, who ranked third in the NFL last season with 104 receptions. He also totaled 1,245 receiving yards, averaging 12.0 ypc, with five touchdowns.  Most notably, he set an NFL record for completion percentage (72.0). Meanwhile, Alvin Kamara earned Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, totaling 1,554 total yards from scrimmage. The running back had 728 rushing yards and 826 through the air. He was part of a strong one-two punch on the ground, averaging 6.1 ypc.

On Defense for the Chargers

The Chargers rush defense currently ranks first in the NFL this preseason, allowing only 57.0 yards per game. They have also been stingy against the pass, giving up just 200.0 ypg. As a result, they currently rank fifth in total defense, surrendering a grand total of 247.0 ypg. One player who has stuck out is second-year defensive end Isaac Rochell. The Notre Dame product has made the most of his opportunities as he is tied for 10th in the NFL through two games with 2.0 sacks. Rochell is also tied for second on the team with six total tackles.

On Defense for the Saints

The Bolts will have their hands full trying to block Cameron Jordan. The defensive end was a one-man wrecking crew a year ago, recording 62 tackles, a career-high 13.0 sacks, one pick six, 11 passes defensed and two forced fumbles. In the secondary, the Chargers’ quarterbacks need to be wary of Marcus Lattimore, who was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. The safety started all 13 games he appeared in last year, totaling 53 tackles, five interceptions, 18 passes defensed and one forced fumble. At 21 years old he became the youngest Saint to ever make the Pro Bowl.

Series History

The Chargers are 7-5 all-time against the Saints and are 4-3 in preseason contests. Saturday’s game will mark the second-straight preseason that the two teams meet, with New Orleans winning 13-7 a year ago.

By the Numbers

In 2017, the Chargers ranked fourth in total offense (376.6 yards per game), first in passing (276.9 ypg), 24th in rushing (99.7 ypg) and 13th in points (22.2). The Saints ranked second in total offense (391.2 ypg), fifth in passing (261.8 ypg), fifth in rushing (129.4 ypg) and fourth in points (28.0).

Defensively, the Bolts ranked 15th in total defense (328.4 ypg), third in passing (197.2 ypg), 31st in rushing (131.1 ypg) and third in points allowed (17.0). New Orleans ranked 17th in total defense (336.5 ypg), 15th in passing (224.8 ypg), 16th in rushing (111.7 ypg) and 10th in points allowed (20.4).

Connections

Saints quarterback Drew Brees was selected in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Chargers, playing five seasons for the Bolts (2001-05).

Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael coached for the Chargers from 2001-05.

Linebackers Coach Mike Nolan served in the same role for the Chargers during the 2015 season.

TE John Phillips played for the Chargers for three seasons (2013-15).

CB Patrick Robinson (2015) and T Michael Ola (2015, ’17) played for the Chargers.

LB Manti Te’o was drafted by the Chargers in 2013, where he played for four seasons (2013-16).

Assistant Special Teams Coach Kevin O’Dea was a Defensive/Special Teams Assistant for the Chargers for two seasons (1994-95).

Broadcast Information

CBS – Ian Eagle (play-by-play), Dan Fouts (analyst) and Evan Washburn (sideline)

KFI-AM 640 – Matt “Money” Smith (play-by-play), Daniel Jeremiah (analyst) and Shannon Farren (sideline)

Spanish Radio: KFWB – AM 980 - Mario Solis (play-by-play) and Jorge Villanueva (analyst)

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