The late Sunday afternoon window for Week 15 of the NFL regular season features five games. While each of them has at least a little appeal from a postseason perspective – and plenty through the eyes of a handicapper – our attention is drawn to this tilt out in Los Angeles.
The Minnesota Vikings hit the road to square off with the Chargers, a meeting of a club with postseason ambitions and another who is one of the more disappointing teams of 2019. The Vikings are locked in battle with the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North, while the Chargers playoff dreams have gone up in flames.
Despite that, this game is far from a cakewalk for the Vikings. In fact, the Packers paid a visit to the Chargers earlier this season and wound up being served an upset. Los Angeles is also returning home after a huge road victory in Week 14.
Minnesota has a showdown upcoming with the Packers in Week 16, a game that will likely decide the division. Looking ahead to that game wouldn’t be the wisest choice for the Vikings, but we’ll trust that the coaching staff has driven that point home. Let’s take a closer look at a game that has plenty of intrigue attached.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 PM EST, Sun.Dec.15, CBS
Betting odds provided by: Sportsbetting.ag
Vikings vs. Chargers Pick:
Minnesota was home on Sunday playing host to the Detroit Lions. They were hefty 12-point favorites at kickoff and would go on to control the game from the onset. While it wasn’t the dominating victory that many were expecting, the Vikings had little trouble in a 20-7 win. The Lions lone points of the game wouldn’t come until late in the fourth quarter.
Los Angeles spent Sunday on the road in Jacksonville. They were 3.5-point favorites, and that proved to be a wise choice. The Chargers came ready to play, while the hosts did not. Los Angeles had its way with the Jaguars to the point that the backups took over in the fourth quarter. When the final whistle blew, the Chargers walked away with a thoroughly convincing 45-10 win.
|LA Chargers||5-8||289||251||4-AFC West||W1|
The Vikings kicked off the year with a big home win over the Atlanta Falcons, but they came up short in Week 2 at the Packers, falling by a score of 21-16. The team would go 1-1 over its next two, but then they caught fire and ripped off four straight. Minnesota has cooled a little since then and won three of its last five, but the team has clearly demonstrated it’ll be a big factor in how the NFC shakes out.
Heading into the season, the Chargers were considered a big postseason contender after a strong 2018 campaign. That turned out to not be the case. The club limped out of the gates at 1-2, and it got worse from there. Los Angeles has dropped six of the last 10 to check in with a record of 5-8. That said, they did play up to their capabilities versus a listless Jaguars team in Week 14.
The Minnesota offense has hit some rough spots this season, and Kirk Cousins was deluged with criticism when it happened. He has answered the bell without issue. The unit is just fine and can score points with anyone in the league. The Vikings defense is loaded with talent and having a fine overall season, but there have been some moments of struggle.
Cousins has completed 70.1 percent of his passes 3,274 yards, 24 scores, and four picks. He has done most of the damage without Adam Thielen, who has been out with a hamstring injury. Dalvin Cook has been a force out of the backfield at 241/1,108/13, while Stefon Diggs leads in receiving at 56/997/5. Eric Kendricks leads with 103 tackles, while Danielle Hunter is tops with 12.5 sacks.
The season has turned out much differently than Los Angeles was anticipating. While there’s plenty of talent to be found on both sides of the ball, inconsistency has ruled the day. There have been flashes where the team has played up to its capabilities, but far too many in which it hasn’t. Add it all up, and that’s a recipe for the team’s current record of 5-8.
Philip Rivers is having a trying season with 20 TD passes versus 15 INTs. There have even been whispers that he may see the bench before the year is through. Melvin Gordon has a slight edge over Austin Ekeler for the team lead in rushing. Keenan Allen is the top target at 81/947/5. Thomas Davis Sr. leads with 102 tackles, while Joey Bosa is tops with 10.5 sacks.
These two franchises have hooked up 12 times overall, and it’s all tied up at 6-6. The last meeting took place in 2015, a 31-14 home win for the Vikings.
For the season to date, Minnesota is 7-6 both against the spread and on the Over/Under. Los Angeles is 4-7-2 ATS and 5-8 on totals.
Since the 2016 season, the Vikings are 10-6-1 straight-up as road favorites and 9-8 ATS. The Chargers are 3-3 overall as home underdogs over that span and 3-3 ATS.
Minnesota is locked in battle with Green Bay for the NFC North crown. At worst, the team is pushing for a Wild Card berth and in good shape to make it happen.
The Chargers have been one of the more disappointing teams of 2019, but they showed a good deal of life in last week’s big road win over the Jaguars. However, that came on the heels of a three-game skid.
This is a dangerous spot for the Vikings. In Week 16, it’s a showdown with the Packers which will likely decide the division. If they drop this one and the Packers win their home game with the Chicago Bears, they’ll enter that game two behind Green Bay.
Based on last week, Los Angeles should put up a fight on the homefield, but we’ll look for the Vikings to get the job done and keep its division title hopes alive.