If you’re basing your expectations on the 2022 NFL season, you probably expected big things from the Los Angeles Chargers and Minnesota Vikings. Both clubs made it to the postseason and, despite early exits, appeared to have the offensive firepower to keep the ball rolling in 2023.
That was not the case.
The two clubs enter week three’s game with identical 0-2 records. The good news? A team will finally earn a “W.” The bad news? Someone will fall below the ugly 0-3 mark.
With these challenges in mind, here is your guide to the Chargers vs. Vikings game.
How to watch Chargers vs. Vikings
Given the fact that both Los Angeles and Minnesota are winless this year, one would probably assume their Week 3 game would be somewhere near the bottom of the TV pecking order. Based on broadcast markets, this suspicion appears to be justified.
When the teams take the field in Minneapolis on Sunday, September 24th at 1 p.m. ET, Fox Sports’ Kevin Kugler and Mark Sanchez will be on hand. You can hear them in the Minnesota area (mainly north and west of the Twin Cities since the Packers play in the same time slot), Southern California, a small portion of Arizona, and an area around the California-Oregon border.
If you are outside of these markets, you will not be able to find the game on traditional television. However, that doesn’t mean you’re completely unlucky. You can stream the game on a variety of services, such as NFL+ or YouTube TV’s NFL Sunday Ticket.
Can the Chargers defense hold up?
On paper, the Chargers have more than enough talent to win football games. With Justin Herbert under center, Austin Ekeler running things out of the backcourt (as long as he’s healthy), and a receiving corps led by Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, Los Angeles can run with the best of them.
And they have. Through two weeks of the 2023 campaign, LA has scored 58 points. The problem, however, is that it wasn’t enough to win a football game. The Chargers have given up 63 points so far; their 31.5 points allowed per contest are the third-worst in the league, behind only the Chicago Bears and New York Giants. The G-Men have also played an additional game since Friday.
The Bolts are also particularly bad at defending the pass and allowing it a league-worst 333 yards per game through the air.
Such numbers are not a recipe for success. And with Justin Jefferson on the receiving end, things could get even worse.
Football is a team sport, but the Vikings receiver is a game-changing talent. If he is given the freedom to stroll through the secondary, he will graduate with a massive stat line.
Ideally, the best teams go into every competition with the conviction that they can play their game. However, the Chargers are not among the NFL’s elite. And given their struggles this season, they need to develop a concrete game plan to contain Jefferson. If they can do that, Herbert and his offense have a chance.
However, if LA’s defense continues to leak, it could be a long afternoon.
What will Cam Akers bring to the Vikings offense?
While Jefferson is obviously a game-changer, we’ve already discussed him from the Chargers’ perspective. With the star receiver already accounted for, we can turn our attention to other areas of the offense.
Before Week 2, Minnesota acquired Cam Akers for metaphorical peanuts. The running back had shown potential with the Rams but never developed into a legitimate first-choice option. However, with the Vikings he has the opportunity for a fresh start.
Given that Alexander Mattison only has 62 rushing yards It’s safe to assume Akers will get some touches in the first two games of the 2023 season. It will be interesting to see what opportunities he gets and what he does with those carries.
From a broader perspective, it will also be worth watching how the Vikings’ offense performs when there is a functioning ground game. It’s easy to see Jefferson pulling the defense away from the line, creating cleaner running routes, but Minnesota hasn’t been able to find that balance so far.
Betting Lines, Over/Under for Chargers vs. Vikings
Since Los Angeles and Minnesota have an identical 0-2 record, it’s easy to expect an even game. The oddsmakers apparently think that’s what we’re going to get on Sunday.
As of Friday, FanDuel Sports Betting lists the Vikings as narrow 1.5-point favorites. The over/under line is also 53.5 points.