The New Orleans Saints have stumbled badly in the aftermath of “Bountygate” as they’ve failed to win in their first four games of the 2012 regular season. It won’t get any easier for them on Sunday Night Football in Week 5 as they host a San Diego team that is playing well and is full of confidence.
San Diego Chargers @ New Orleans Saints
NFL Betting Odds: Saints -4
How The Chargers Can Win
The San Diego defense has been solid to start the season, although they did fall flat on their face when going up against a good team in Atlanta. The offense also stuttered in that game and that makes it tough to judge the Chargers: are they a bad team that feeds on teams that are worse (their wins have come against Oakland, Tennessee and Kansas City), or are they actually good?
Offensively, the Chargers have been running the ball more, which could be necessary after Philip Rivers’ turnover problems last season, and New Orleans’ rush defense is ranked last in the NFL.
This will also be a good test for the defense, which will have their hands full in the Superdome where the Saints’ offense can really go.
How The Saints Can Win
Quite simply, the Saints have to be better on the defensive side of the ball, where they’re 26th against the pass and 32nd against the run. The defense took a lot of hits in the offseason because of what happened with “Bountygate”, but to be honest, it wasn’t a great unit over the last couple of years anyway and this was just a death blow. But the Saints aren’t going anywhere until they stop the bleeding, even just a little bit.
It is the Drew Brees show on offense and he almost carried them to victory in Green Bay, but Garrett Hartley missed a late field-goal attempt to keep the Saints out of the “win” column. The Saints aren’t that far off as they’ve lost all four games by eight points or less, but Brees needs a little bit of help from the defense, not even a lot of help, just a little bit.
Outlook And Pick
The DSI odds makers have listed New Orleans as a four-point favorite at home over the Chargers, who have visited the “Big Easy” twice since 1992, but they’ve won and covered the spread on both occasions. However, this is the week that the Saints break out of their slump and get that crucial first win of the season.
After what happened in the offseason, the Saints hired Steve Spagnuolo to replace Gregg Williams, and Spagnuolo is one of the top defensive minds in the NFL. The Saints also had to replace emotional leader Jonathan Vilma for his alleged role in the scandal as well. The defense has gone through a lot, but Spagnuolo will get the troops together this week and of course, the offense will do what they do. There shouldn’t be a lot of trust in San Diego, who are confident right now, but they’re not very good. Take the Saints to cover on Sunday night.
NFL Pick: Saints -4