It’s not entirely crazy to think the New Orleans Saints-Los Angeles Chargers matchup on Saturday could end up being repeated at the Super Bowl.
While the Saints and Chargers might not be traditional contenders, considering they each have one Super Bowl appearance in their respective histories, they each have a championship-level roster coming into the season. They square off on the Yahoo Sports mobile app (IOS and Android) on Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET. Expect all healthy starters from both teams to get their most work of the preseason, because the third preseason game is generally considered the “dress rehearsal,” and then most starters sit the fourth game.
The game might not count, but it’s a good chance to see two very talented teams that come into the season with legitimate Super Bowl hopes.
Saints want to “Prove Them Right”
The Saints and Chargers have different paths to contender status.
The Saints were a surprise all last season, thanks to a strong rookie class. They won the NFC South and looked to be going to the NFC championship game before the Minnesota Vikings pulled off the “Minneapolis Miracle” to beat them on the final play. The future looks bright for the Saints, with NFL offensive and defensive rookies of the year Alvin Kamara and Marshon Lattimore. It’s the first time teammates have swept those awards since the 1967 Detroit Lions.
While the rookie class was key to the Saints’ resurgence last season, the key figure is still 39-year-old quarterback Drew Brees. Brees hasn’t played yet this preseason because the Saints are being cautious with him, but he said he wants to play this preseason and the expectation is he’ll get some time against the Chargers.
The Saints were close to making the NFL’s final four last season, had a productive offseason and would love to get Brees back to at least one more Super Bowl before he retires. They have the roster to do that. There has been Super Bowl talk all offseason in New Orleans, and the Saints took the unusual approach of embracing it. A large banner that says “Prove Them Right” has been hanging by their practice field.
“I wouldn’t see why not,” offensive lineman Jermon Bushrod told The Advocate. “As long as you can build on what these guys did last year. … If we can get the focus and the vision in front of us like we need to, this team can write their own story.”
Chargers want to make up for heartbreaking 2017
The Chargers want to get their veteran quarterback, Philip Rivers, to one Super Bowl before he’s done. Brees has a championship. It came at the end of the 2009 season. Rivers has been on some good teams but hasn’t made it to a Super Bowl yet. The window isn’t closed, as long as the Chargers can finally catch some better luck.
The Chargers can’t seem to get out of their own way. Last season it was an 0-4 start, with some unfortunate close losses, that put them far behind. They rallied to get back in the playoff race and for the final three-quarters of the season were one of the best teams in the NFL, but it didn’t really matter because the hole they dug was too deep. The Chargers didn’t make the playoffs.
Anyone paying attention for the final three months last offseason knows how talented the Chargers are. Receiver Keenan Allen had a ridiculous second half. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are a pass-rush duo that might be unmatched in the NFL. The secondary is deep and will be helped by rookie safety Derwin James, a first-round pick. Last year’s first-round pick, receiver Mike Williams, showed on an impressive touchdown last week that he might be all the way back from injury issues that plagued him last season.
The Chargers don’t want to celebrate the higher expectations for them. They didn’t even make the playoffs last season, after all, and coach Anthony Lynn doesn’t want anyone getting ahead of themselves. But like the Saints, the Chargers have one of the most talented rosters in the entire NFL.
Two talented teams in their final tune-up
The Chargers and Saints practiced against each other this week, before the game. Brees and Rivers even led up a fun “quarterback challenge” between the teams after one practice.
There are plenty of teams who look strong coming into this season and should consider themselves Super Bowl contenders. The two teams who have been practicing out in Los Angeles, preparing for Saturday night’s preseason game, have as good of a shot to win it all as anyone else. Both teams are that good.