The Chargers lead the overall series 7-5 dating back to 1973. Since the Saints were a losing franchise in their first 20 seasons, San Diego dominated winning six of their first seven meetings. New Orleans lost the first three including getting shut out in two of those losses.
The Saints won their first game in 1988, a year after their first playoff appearance. This was when they started becoming a decent franchise. But San Diego would once again take over and win the next three until 1997. Most of the Chargers' wins were dominant winning by 14 or more points in four of the six wins.
Things started to flip in the 2000's. A Chargers' blowout victory in 2004 is sandwiched by Saints victories. New Orleans has won four of the last five overall and is undefeated against the Bolts since Brees became their quarterback.
The diminutive Brees was drafted by San Diego in 2001 but signed with New Orleans after feeling slighted by the Chargers' offer. Fortunately for the Bolts, Rivers turned out to be a solid QB in his own right.
New Orleans Recent History
The Saints have gone from laughing stock to a premier team in the NFC. They didn't have a winning season for their first 20 seasons - an NFL record. And they didn't win a playoff game until their 33rd season despite posting 11 wins or more three separate times.
The franchise's luck shifted in the new millennium. From 2000 to 2017, the Saints won at least seven games each season save for the 2005 season. But this was another turning point for the franchise as the Brees and Sean Payton era started. The quarterback-coach tandem would lead them to their first and only Super Bowl in 2009.
So long as Brees and Payton are running the show, the Saints should be a competitive team. Now backed by a more loaded roster, a potential dynasty is in the works.
Los Angeles Chargers Recent History
After just one season in LA, the Chargers moved to San Diego where they played for 55 seasons and were most remembered as a team who just kept coming up short. They won an AFL Championship in 1963 but despite nine more seasons with at least 11 wins, the Chargers ended with jack squat.
They were embarrassed in Super Bowl XXIX in 1994 and despite a team featuring nearly a dozen Pro Bowlers during the mid-2000's, the Chargers only advanced past the divisional playoffs once: an AFC Championship game loss to the 16-0 Patriots.
Moving back to Los Angeles, the Chargers' fortunes haven't changed. They have consistently been struck by injuries and bad luck. They underachieve given how talented their team is.
New Orleans Saints Outlook
Another Super Bowl trip could be in the works for New Orleans. The Saints just barely lost to Minnesota in 2017 thanks to a blown tackle but they are a year better and wiser. New Orleans didn't make any significant additions in the offseason but they also didn't lose too much.
Their offensive line is still looking a bit thin but decent enough to keep their passing and running games efficient. Alvin Kamara was a revelation last season as the dual-threat running back that changed their offence. And on defence, Marcus Lattimore (CB) leads a revamped secondary.
On top of it all, the Superdome has been a safe haven for the Saints and a hell for opponents. The Saints are 40-11 in the dome in the last seven years and went 8-1 last year with their only loss coming to the Patriots. They are the class of the NFC South for years to come.
Los Angeles Chargers Outlook
Pressure is on for the Chargers to become an elite team as the StubHub Center remains the worst "home field" in the NFL. The Chargers essentially play 16 road games as the fans of Greater Los Angeles have yet to embrace them.
The Bolts are set at quarterback with Rivers, who is the league's best signal caller who has yet to make a Super Bowl appearance. While his receivers are lacking, a healthier o-line and underrated running backs will back him up. And the defence is world-class especially with the secondary.
The Chargers took Derwin James who fills the void left by All-Pro safety Eric Weddle. Casey Heyward is an elite corner and they have one of the best defensive lines led by pass rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. This is a Super Bowl-caliber team. But unless they put it all together, it's all just on paper.
At first glance, one would think Rivers and Brees would be in for a shootout but this might be more about the defence and running game. Assuming they cancel each other out, the Chargers get the edge because their secondary is lights out and their pass rush should pressure Brees enough to neutralize the offence as Rivers goes to work.
The linebackers on both sides are solid but not unstoppable. Chargers' running back Melvin Gordon has yet to kill it as a runner but has been making amends as a pass-catcher. Justin Jackson is an underrated pick and could be the x-factor for the Chargers. The Saints also have a two-prong RB attack in Kamara and Mark Ingram.
With strong defences and solid running games, Brees and Rivers might take a back seat. Either team could get a headstart and the other could pull a comeback given how great their quarterbacks are. Backups Tom Savage (New Orleans) and Geno Smith (Los Angeles) are about on the same level but are shaky even when going against second units.
The Saints have had the Chargers' number for the last decade but that could end tonight. Los Angeles' deeper secondary will take something off of the Saints' passing offence long enough to win.