The New Orleans Saints (2-2) will battle the Los Angeles Chargers (1-3) on Monday Night Football to conclude Week 5 action in the 2020 NFL season. Led by rookie QB Justin Herbert, Los Angeles seeks to break a three-game losing streak as they take on their third consecutive NFC South foe. For New Orleans, they hope to build on last week’s victory over Detroit.
Here are three things for you to watch in the Saints’ second Monday Night Football appearance of the season against the Chargers.
Will Michael Thomas Return from his Ankle Injury?
The New Orleans Saints have been without Michael Thomas, the 2019 AP Offensive Player of the Year, for three weeks. Thomas suffered an ankle injury in the fourth quarter of the Saints Week 1 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Coincidence or not, the Saints struggled offensively in their first two games without the All-Pro wide receiver but managed to provide their best performance as a unit last week against Detroit. Thomas had not missed a game since his rookie season in 2016.
New Orleans has certainly missed their $100M man, but his time away has allowed Drew Brees to develop chemistry with WRs Emmanuel Sanders, Tre’Quan Smith, and Deonte Harris. However, the production of Thomas (149 receptions in 2019) is nearly irreplaceable.
New Orleans decided not to place him on Injured Reserve, which would have kept him out three weeks. Last week there was a glimmer of hope that No. 13 would return within that three-week window. He returned to the practice field, but on a limited basis.
New Orleans heads into a bye week following Monday’s contest, which would provide even more rest for the superstar wide-out. However, Thomas, who has been called one of the toughest players in the NFL, could return to action in Week 5, giving Drew Brees and the Saints offense just another weapon as they begin to gain confidence in the second quarter of the season.
Likely Brees’ Final Regular Season Game vs. the Team that Drafted Him
“With the first selection of the second round, number 32 overall the San Diego Chargers have selected Quarterback from Purdue, Drew Brees.” It has been nearly 20 years since Brees was drafted by the Chargers organization and 15 years since he has dawned the lightning bolt on the side of his helmet.
Monday night will be the fourth time Brees has faced the team that drafted him. In the three previous matchups, Brees is 3-0 completing 67.21% of his passes, throwing for 916 yards, 9 TDs, and 3 INTs.
Brees has provided magical moments against his former team, including a record-breaking performance on Sunday Night Football in 2012. In the second quarter, Brees connected with former Saints wide-out Devery Henderson on a 40-yard TD pass, breaking Johnny Unitas’ NFL record of consecutive games with a TD pass and giving the Saints their first win of the season.
As the historic career of Drew Brees is coming to an end, Monday night’s game will likely be the final matchup between Brees and his former team. The future first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback spent his first five NFL seasons with the Chargers starting 58 of 59 games, completing 62.2% of his passes for 12,348 yards and 80 TDs.
The Saints Could Play a “Home Game” at Lucas Oil Stadium
Hurricane Delta’s threat could move the Saints’ Monday night home game against the Chargers from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. The Athletic’s Jeff Duncan reports that moving the game is a last-resort option, but the NFL is prepared for that possibility. Hurricane Delta, a Category 2 hurricane, is expected to make contact in Louisiana Friday night or early Saturday morning.
Hurricane Delta has “an increasing likelihood of life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds”, and has already forced the SEC matchup between Missouri vs. LSU contest to be moved from Baton Rouge, LA to Columbia, Missouri on Saturday.
General Manager Mickey Loomis and Head Coach Sean Payton are expected to decide on whether the team will evacuate to Indianapolis by the end of the business day Wednesday. Currently, the Week 5 Monday Night Football game between the Saints and Chargers is scheduled to kickoff at 7:15 PM CST from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 12, 2020.
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