Vikings (3-5) over Chargers (5-3)
When: Sunday, 1:05 pm
where: Sophie Stadium
TV/Radio: Fox (Chapter 11); 98.7 FM; 105.5 FM/94.3 FM (Spanish); Sirius 83
Line: chargers 3 points
Notable Injury Designation: Chargers: Edge Joy Bossa (suspicious; ankle), WR Keenan Allen (suspicious; knee), CB Michael Davis (suspicious; hamstrings), RB Justin Jackson (suspicious; quadriceps), S Nasser Adderley (suspicious; ankle), DB Mark Webb Jr. (suspicious; knee), CB Ryan Smith (outside; knee)
Vikings: LB Anthony Barr (out; knee), DT Michael Pierce (out; elbow), CB Bassoud Breeland (suspect; waist), S Harrison Smith (COVID-19 list)
what’s at stake? Last week, the Chargers defeated the Philadelphia Eagles on offense to efficiency and impact on special teams. The Chargers’ defense struggled but made enough stops to contribute to the win on the road. Now, the defense can lift the offense and special teams by improving its run defense against the Minnesota Vikings, which features star running back Dalvin Cook. The Chargers’ defense allowed 176 rushing yards against the Eagles, but they made adjustments in the second half to limit run plays. The Chargers’ short-handed secondary struggled to contain Eagles rookie wide receiver Devonta Smith. He may have a tough time against the Vikings duo of Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen.
who’s better? The Chargers get the edge here as they have been able to win close games this season. The Chargers are 4-2 in a one-score game and the Vikings are 2-5 in that category. The Vikings have had five losses this season for a total of 18 points, including two overtime. Last season, the Chargers started 2-5, with their five losses being settled for a total of 19 points. But the Chargers turned this season into a corner with close games, thanks to the play of quarterback Justin Herbert and adjustments made by first-year head coach Brandon Staley.
Matchups to watch: Jefferson vs Chargers Secondary. Jefferson will likely be inspired by this matchup because he wanted to win Offensive Rookie of the Year last season, an award that went to Herbert. Jefferson may try to make a case he deserved the award by making a standout performance against Herbert’s defensive teammates. Staley will likely have rookie cornerback Asante Samuel Jr., defending the do-it-all Vikings wideout, for most of the game. Samuel was removed from concussion protocol on Friday.
The Chargers win if: … he has another skillful offensive display with many players contributing. Last week, Herbert completed nine player throws during a memorable 38-of-32 performance against the Eagles. The Vikings will likely find success on the ground with Cook and quarterback Kirk Cousins able to brighten up the scoreboard with Jefferson and Thylen. The Chargers will need more than 24 points to beat the strange Vikings at home.
Fantasy Sleeper: Tight end Donald Parham Jr. is becoming one of Herbert’s favorite targets this season. Parham has been snapping separates with Jared Cook and Stephen Anderson, but the Chargers have found a good balance with the rotation of their tight ends. All three are included and the ultimate is featured in the screen game. Param has 10 receptions for 114 yards and three touchdowns this season.
Prediction: The Vikings have several playmakers on offense, but they would be without most of their top players on defense. This would lead to another standout performance from Herbert and the Chargers’ offense. Expect the Chargers to take an early lead and win 31-24 at Sophie Stadium.