Chargers, Vikings Meet In Precarious Place After Pair Of Close Losses To Start Their Seasons

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)
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LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (0-2) at MINNESOTA VIKINGS (0-2)

Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT, Fox

OPENING LINE: Vikings by 1½, according to FanDuel SportsBook.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Chargers 0-2; Vikings 0-2.

SERIES RECORD: Vikings lead 8-6.

LAST MEETING: Vikings beat Chargers 27-20 on Nov. 14, 2021, in Inglewood, California.

LAST WEEK: Chargers lost to Titans 27-24 in OT; Vikings lost to Eagles 34-28.

CHARGERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (4), RUSH (5), PASS (11), SCORING (6)

CHARGERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (32), RUSH (15), PASS (32), SCORING (30)

VIKINGS OFFENSE: OVERALL (8), RUSH (32), PASS (2), SCORING (18)

VIKINGS DEFENSE: OVERALL (17), RUSH (29), PASS (8), SCORING (25)

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Chargers plus-2; Vikings minus-6.

CHARGERS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Justin Herbert can become the second-fastest passer in NFL history to reach 15,000 yards with 377 yards against the Vikings in what will be his 52nd regular-season game. Patrick Mahomes hit that milestone in 49 games. Matthew Stafford got there in 53. Herbert also needs three more TD passes to hit the 100 mark. If he gets there against the Vikings, he’d be the fourth-fastest player behind Mahomes (40 games), Dan Marino (44) and Kurt Warner (50).

VIKINGS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Justin Jefferson can become the first receiver in NFL history with three straight 150-yard games to start a season. He leads the league with 309 yards. He also has 10 career 150-yard games, matching Lance Alworth for the most in a player’s first four years. With 150 yards, Jefferson would break Wes Welker’s 2011 record with the most receiving yards in history at the three-game mark.

KEY MATCHUP: Vikings offensive line vs. Chargers defensive line and linebackers. The Vikings have a league-low 69 rushing yards and a league-high six fumbles lost, including two strip-sacks on QB Kirk Cousins. Chargers DE Joey Bosa had two sacks against the Titans, his 11th career multi-sack game. Bosa has nine career strip-sacks, and no player since he entered the league in 2016 has more.

KEY INJURIES: RB Austin Ekeler (ankle) and LB Eric Kendricks (hamstring) were sidelined for the Chargers' previous game. Neither player practiced on Wednesday. ... Vikings C Garrett Bradbury (back) missed the most recent game. LT Christian Darrisaw (ankle) was also held out, and OLB Marcus Davenport (ankle) was limited to four snaps. Neither Bradbury nor Davenport practiced on Wednesday. Darrisaw was limited.

SERIES NOTES: The Vikings have won three straight games, last losing to the Chargers in the 2011 season opener when they played in San Diego. ... This will be the first regular-season visit by the Chargers to U.S. Bank Stadium. They were the first preseason opponent for the Vikings at the venue that opened in 2016. ... Chargers WR Keenan Allen has 29 catches for 330 yards in three games against the Vikings. ... Vikings DL coach Chris Rumph's son, Chris Rumph II, is a backup DE for the Chargers.

STATS AND STUFF: Chargers coach Brandon Staley and Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell worked together with the Los Angeles Rams in 2020, when Staley was defensive coordinator and O'Connell was offensive coordinator. ... The Chargers are 0-2 for the first time since 2017, when they started 0-4. ... Allen has caught a pass in 60 straight games, the eighth-longest streak in club history. Antonio Gates (80) has the record. ... Since entering the NFL in 2017, Chargers WR Mike Williams has seven TDs that gave his team the lead in either the fourth quarter or overtime to match the league lead with Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs. ... Chargers DE Khalil Mack has 19 strip-sacks since he entered the NFL in 2014, the second-most behind Chandler Jones (26) in that span. ... Cousins can become the fifth player in history with at least 325 passing yards and two TD passes in three straight games to start a season, joining Tom Brady (2011), Ryan Fitzpatrick (2018), Patrick Mahomes (2019), Derek Carr (2021). ... Vikings WR Jordan Addison can become the fifth player in history with at least 50 receiving yards and a TD in each of his first three games, joining Ja’Marr Chase (2021), Terry McLaurin (2019), Louis Lipps (1984) and Billy Howton (1952). ... Vikings OLB Danielle Hunter is tied for the league lead with four sacks. ... After setting an NFL record by going 11-0 in games decided by eight points or fewer in 2022, the Vikings have dropped three straight such contests, including their playoff loss last season.

FANTASY TIP: The Vikings gave up 259 rushing yards to the Eagles. If Ekeler is sidelined again, backup RB Joshua Kelley ought to be a good bet to start against a vulnerable defense. Kelley had 16 carries for 91 yards and a TD in the opener after Ekeler was hurt. He was limited to 39 yards on 13 rushes last week.

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