By Dave Thomas
Teams that want to make a name for themselves during the NFL season play well in big games.
Sure, you may look at the records of this Sunday night’s contest between the San Diego Chargers (3-1) and the host New Orleans Saints (0-4), thinking this surely can’t be a big game. Think again.
Both teams go into the prime time contest on NBC with different motives.
For the Bolts, a win on the road in a festive environment would be a good tune-up as they prepare the following week to host Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football (Oct. 15). Not to mention, a win over the Saints would give them a perfect 3-0 mark on the road for the young season.
Meantime, the Saints are just looking for a win over someone.
Yes, the faithful in Louisiana and elsewhere around the country who follow the Saints knew it would be a tough season given the “Bountygate” suspensions and all. It is doubtful, however, many of them thought New Orleans would be winless after the first month of the season.
The Saints came within a hair of possibly upsetting the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field last Sunday, but a penalty in the game’s final minutes negated a good field goal, which was then missed on the second attempt. The end result was Green Bay escaping with a 28-27 victory.
San Diego did not have quite the excitement of the Saints in its 37-20 win in Kansas City, as the Chargers forced six turnovers, culminating in 24 points.
The New Orleans’ defense may have its hands full with the Chargers, especially given the fact the Saints have given up a league-worst 463.3 yards per game, along with an average of 32.5 points.
While San Diego was held to three points in a loss to Atlanta on Sept. 23, the Chargers are more than capable of moving the ball up and down the field, especially given an improved running game with Jackie Battle getting more touches. Future Hall-of-Fame tight end Antonio Gates also looked sharp in last weekend’s win in Kansas City, giving QB Philip Rivers (passed the 25,000 mark in career yards passing last Sunday) confidence to put the ball up in the air.
This Sunday’s game brings added excitement for former Chargers’ QB Drew Brees, looking to place himself in the NFL record books with a mark that has stood for more than five decades.
Brees, who threw for a season-high 446 yards against the Packers last Sunday, will look to throw a touchdown pass in his 48th straight game, beating the mark (1960) of former Baltimore Colts legend Johnny Unitas.
The biggest determining factor in this contest may be which team has the ball last on offense; a game that certainly could turn into a good old-fashioned shootout.
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Chargers news, see CBS Sports Los Angeles.
Dave Thomas is a freelance writer covering all things Chargers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.