San Diego Chargers (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS) vs. Minnesota Vikings (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS)
NFL Week 3
Date/Time: Sunday, September 27, 2015 at 1:00PM EST
Where: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
by Scott, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SD +1/MIN -1
Over/Under Total: 45
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The San Diego Chargers will meet the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday in a battle of 1-1 teams. San Diego followed a nice home win in week one against the Detroit Lions, 38-33, with a deflating 26-19 loss on the road to the Bengals on Sunday. Minnesota, conversely, was awful in week one, putting up a miserable three points on MNF, before coming back on Sunday with a 26-16 win over the Lions.
Minnesota is one of many teams that have already shown a wide-ranging level of form from one week to week two. Every team is afforded a horrible game and maybe the fact that the Vikings came in the first week of the season made it stand out more than it should. Even so, based on how bad they looked in week one, a ten-point win over Detroit was surprising to most people. They went from looking horrific to looking pretty good in just six days. Its going to be one of those seasons in 2015.
The Chargers are always erraticgoing back to the days of Dan Fouts. And speaking of Fouts, hats off to Philip Rivers for throwing his 255th career touchdown on Sunday to move ahead of the Hall of Famer on the all-time Chargers list. But they never really looked to get in the game on Sunday against the Bengals. They hung in there a little bit, but fell flat for a long stretch during the second half and came up short in an effort to go to 2-0. After going to Cincinnati, the Chargers now have to hit the road for another tough road trip this Sunday. Minnesota isnt really their stomping grounds and playing at 10AM is never really up their alley, as they typically come off a bit flat in these spots.
Minnesota saw some positive developments unfold on Sunday. Having not had a really good game since 2013, Adrian Peterson announced he is ready to resume his domination of opposing defenses with 134 yards on the ground, while adding some useful catches, including a 49-yarder that put the Vikes in a position to score. TE Kyle Rudolph, a real difference-maker in the red-zone, caught a touchdown pass. And Teddy Bridgewater had the kind of game the Vikings want to see more of, with the second-year field general having a sharp performance on 14 of 18 passing, including a touchdown both through the air and on the ground. When on, Bridgewater is really a cool customer.
Head coach Mike Zimmer came into this gig with a reputation for defensive expertise and were starting to see signs of it manifesting in a positive way. At home especially, the Vikings are going to be a tough nut to crack. After getting run ragged by Carlos Hyde the previous week, Minnesota held Detroit running backs to a hapless 18 yards on 12 carries. Golden Tate and Calvin Johnson both had good games, with Matthew Stafford going for nearly 300 yards, but 16 total points is what speaks loudest. The escalation in form from week one to week two could be based on the opponent, the home/away dynamic, or the fact that the Vikings are going to be erratic until they really find themselves. Whatever the case, they showed on Sunday that they cant be overlooked.
They get a dangerous opponent on Sunday with the Chargers. San Diego boasts of a stacked group of talented and game-changing skill players at Philip Rivers disposal. And if rookie back Melvin Gordon can continue coming around as he finds his NFL bearings, it would give this offense a big boost. Gordon had 88 yards on Sunday and that was behind a line that was really struggling. It may be too early to say, as weve seen this Chargers line manage to be serviceable in past years, despite crippling injury issues. And this season, were already seeing the injury bug affecting this line, with it resonating badly for Rivers and the whole offense. You could sense on Sunday that Rivers was able to mount a comeback, but the protection was so bad, that defenders were sometimes immediately on top of Rivers. That has to get better.
Rivers still has a ton of talented ball-catchers and if they all get in-sync, its bad news even for good defenses. Keenan Allen has 17 catches already. TE Ladarius Green has two more games to fill in for Antonio Gates and has been doing pretty well. Both Malcom Floyd and Stevie Johnson caught TD passes on Sunday. Danny Woodhead continues to be a useful weapon both in the run and pass. But alas, when the offensive line is getting run past constantly, it has a way of rendering an offense a shadow of what it could be.
There were some good signs from the San Diego defense, despite losing on Sunday and at times getting exploited by Detroit in week one. The middle level is making an upsurge with Manti Teo getting in on a lot of plays, and Melvin Ingram is also making gains this season. Allowing over 100 yards to Giovani Bernard was not a good sign for the front line, as theyve been a bit dicey against the run so far in 2015. But there are small signs of improvement. Its just that with this San Diego defense, its only a matter of time before the secondary slips and allows a game-changing play. Theyll be solid for a long stretch of the game and then all of a sudden a receiver is running unabated down the field.
Its going to be hard to keep this San Diego offense out-of-tune for two weeks in a row. But facing this Minnesota defense on the road is a tough time for the offensive line to be going through growing pains. With all the rapid changes in form from week-to-week seen already this season, the Chargers could very well get untracked against the Vikings, but I see the Minnesota home D playing well enough for the win.
Scot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Minnesota Vikings minus one point.
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