Week two of the NFL preseason continues on Sunday as the New Orleans Saints travel out west to take on the Los Angeles Chargers. For both teams, 2018 ended in an unfortunate way. For Los Angeles, they finished the season 12-4 and made it to the divisional round of the playoffs. That’s where they got stomped out by Tom Brady and the Patriots. The Saints also made the playoffs, but their season ended in heartbreak at the NFC Championship Game thanks to the Rams (or the refs depending on who you ask).
Week 1 of the preseason ended in defeat for the New Orleans Saints at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings in a 34-25 game. Drew Brees had the night off, so Teddy Bridgewater started and finished 14 of 19 for 134 yards and a touchdown. Taysom Hill then came into the game and did it all for the Saints, completing 8 of 14 passes for 80 yards, with a touchdown and a pick. He also ran the ball six times for 45 yards as the team’s leading rusher. Starter Alvin Kamara ran the ball four times for only 11 yards and caught two balls for 15 yards. Lil’Jordan Humphrey was the Saints leading pass-catcher, reeling in two balls for 42 yards and a score. Wil Lutz went 4 for 4 on field-goal attempts. The defense let the Saints down, however, as they didn’t record a single sack or turnover.
Los Angeles also lost its first preseason game, getting beaten by the Arizona Cardinals. Philip Rivers didn’t play in the game. However, backup Tyrod Taylor looked sharp. He completed all six of his passes for 72 yards and also had 34 rushing yards on two carries. Austin Ekeler racked up 40 yards on five carries, and Easton Stick had a 31-yard rushing touchdown. Former seventh-round pick Malachi Dupre led the Chargers in receiving with 32 yards on two catches. Starter Mike Williams also caught one ball for 28 yards. The Chargers defense recorded two sacks, as well as an interception and a forced fumble.
The Saints are getting healthy at the right time of the preseason, with a bunch of key players returning to practice this week. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore, wide receiver Keith Kirkwood, and tight end Garrett Griffin were all cleared for padded practice. Running back Alvin Kamara and receiver Michael Thomas participated in individual practice. More good news, as right tackle Ryan Ramczyk and left tackle Terron Armstead participated in team drills this week as well.
For the Chargers, Rivers and many starters will not play according to coach Anthony Lynn. Star safety Derwin James just fractured his foot and will be out for a while. Starting running back Melvin Gordon is still a no-show as he is holding out for a new contract. Starting left tackle Russell Okung is still out as well. Another starter, wide receiver Keenan Allen, will also be out for the rest of camp as well as preseason games with an ankle injury.
With both starting QBs — Brees and Rivers — sitting out of this game, this will be a battle of the backup signal callers. Bridgewater and Taylor will get a good amount of work, followed by Taysom Hill and Cardale Jones/Easton Stick. I’m throwing a dart at the home team here. Take the Chargers.