SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 23: Running back Ryan Mathews #24 of the San Diego Chargers is tackled by free safety Thomas DeCoud #28 of the Atlanta Falcons in the first quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on September 23, 2012 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Here's a look at three players to keep an eye on when the 3-1 Chargers play the 0-4 Saints on NBC's Sunday Night Football.
1) Donald Butler. The linebacker is coming off a great game in Kansas City, where he won the AFC Defensive Player of the Week Award. The Saints most lethal weapon (other than Drew Brees, of course) is tight end Jimmy Graham. He's 6'7" and weighs 265 pounds. He can run like a man half his size and jump out of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Brees likes to throw to him a lot. Butler will get a lot of looks covering that guy. It bears noting, Donald has returned two interceptions for touchdowns in his career. The first was in New York last year when Mark Sanchez tried to hit tight end Dustin Keller. The second came a week ago when Matt Cassel tried to hit tight end Tony Moeaki. So, either Butler is really good at covering tight ends, or really good at intercepting passes thrown by quarterbacks who played at USC.
2) Ryan Mathews. I know, not a big surprise here. However, the Saints are dead last in the NFL is rushing defense, allowing 186 yards per game on the ground. Mathews seems to have a newfound appreciation for holding on to the football. If he continues it, he could have his best rushing game as a pro.
3) Robert Meachem. The former Saint has been the forgotten man in the Chargers offense. Meachem did not catch a pass against the Titans or the Chiefs. He only has 92 receiving yards this season, and exactly half of those came on one play, a 46-yard catch in the opener against the Raiders. Meachem knows New Orleans better than anyone on the Chargers roster. If he's ready for a breakout game, this is the time to get it.