October 12, 2020 | 3:15pm | Updated October 12, 2020 | 1:14pm
Rookie Justin Herbert is 0-3 (2-1 ATS) as the starting quarterback of the Los Angeles Chargers, but his numbers have been substantially better than the winless record indicates. In three games, Herbert has completed 72 percent of his passes for 931 yards while throwing for five touchdowns and averaging 8.7 yards per attempt.
Herbert was named the starter going forward by Chargers coach Anthony Lynn this week. It was a difficult decision considering Tyrod Taylor essentially lost the job due to a punctured lung that he suffered while a team doctor administered painkillers. However, the numbers do not lie that the Chargers offense has been more explosive down the field with Herbert as the starter as they rank sixth in the NFL in total offense (400.3 ypg) and seventh in passing offense (275 ypg).
While the Chargers are going with the youth movement at the quarterback position, the Saints still have 41-year-old future Pro Football Hall of Famer Drew Brees. Much has been made of Brees’ dissipating arm strength, but he was able to complete 6 of his 9 passing attempts of 15 or more yards last week in Detroit.
The Saints were without six starters and got down 14-0 early before scoring 35 consecutive points in a 35-29 over the Lions. Now they return home to face the Chargers on “Monday Night Football” prior to their Week 6 bye week. Neither club has fared well of late under the Monday Night lights as the Chargers are 0-3-1 ATS in their last four appearances while the Saints are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 MNF games.
The handicap for this game has been rendered more difficult as both teams have their fair share of injuries. On the Chargers side, RB Austin Ekeler was put on IR this week with a hamstring injury after being carted off the field last week in Tampa. Two offensive line starters — Trai Turner and Bryan Bulaga — will sit out another game (C Mike Pouncey is already out of the season with a hip injury). WR Mike Williams missed the game in Tampa last week and is questionable with a hamstring injury.
New Orleans also has its fair share of injuries, most notably to star WR Michael Thomas, who has missed three straight games with an ankle injury and will miss a fourth straight game for disciplinary reasons after reportedly punching teammate Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. All-Pro RT Ryan Ramczyk left last week’s game with a concussion but practiced all week and should be a go for Monday night.
The Saints’ main injury issues are in the secondary as CBs Janoris Jenkins and Justin Hardee, one of their special teams’ aces, are out. Saints starters who missed last week who are listed as questionable include CB Marshon Lattimore, TE Jared Cook, G Andrus Peat, DE Marcus Davenport and DT Sheldon Rankins.
The Saints offense is averaging 30.8 ppg and surrendering the same 30.8 ppg. However, New Orleans does rank sixth in total defense (334.3 ypg) and will pose a challenge to Herbert. Now that Herbert is officially “the guy” to lead the offense, how will he handle the pressure? He has certainly been up to the challenge thus far.
Going into yesterday, NFL overs are 37-27 and this 2020 season is the first season in the Super Bowl era in which games have averaged over 50 points per game for the first four weeks. 50 is the current number on this total. The total opened at 52 but has been bet down to 50.5 likely due to some of the injuries on the respective offensive lines. Prime-time games tend to get bet to the Over by the betting public and this will likely be no exception.
The lookahead line at Westgate Superbook was Saints -7.5 and is currently -8. Without question most teasers and moneyline parlays that are still live will be tied to the Saints to close out NFL Week 5 so most sportsbooks will need the “lightning bolts” to come in.