If you based your expectations on the 2022 NFL season, you were probably expecting big things from the Los Angeles Chargers and the Minnesota Vikings. Both clubs made the postseason and, despite early exits, seemed to have the offensive firepower to keep the ball rolling in 2023.
That hasn’t been the case.
The two clubs enter their Week 3 matchup with identical 0-2 records. The good news? One team will finally earn a “W.” The bad news? Someone is going to fall to the ugly 0-3 mark.
With those stakes in mind, here’s your viewing guide to the Chargers vs. Vikings contest.
How to Watch Chargers vs. Vikings
Based on the fact that both Los Angeles and Minnesota are winless on the year, you’d probably think that their Week 3 game sits somewhere near the bottom of the television pecking order. Based on the broadcast markets, that suspicion seems to be accurate.
When the teams take the field in Minneapolis on Sunday, September 24, at 1 p.m. ET, Fox Sports’ Kevin Kugler and Mark Sanchez will be on the call. You’ll be able to hear them in the area around Minnesota (mostly to the north and west of the Twin Cities since the Packers are playing in the same time slot), Southern California, a small section of Arizona and a pocket around the California-Oregon border.
If you’re outside of those markets, you won’t be able to find the game on traditional TV. That doesn’t mean you’re completely out of luck, though. You can stream the game through a variety of services, like NFL+ or YouTube TV’s NFL Sunday Ticket.
Can the Chargers’ Defense Make a Stand?
On paper, the Chargers have more than enough talent to win football games. With Justin Herbert under center, Austin Ekeler making things happen out of the backfield (when healthy) and a receiving corps headlined by Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, Los Angeles can score with the best of them.
And they have. Through two weeks of the 2023 campaign, LA has scored 58 points. The problem, though, is that it hasn’t been enough to win a football game. The Chargers have given up 63 points thus far; their 31.5 points allowed per contest are the third worst in the league, only trailing the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants. The G-Men, as of Friday, have also played an extra game.
The Bolts are also especially bad at defending the pass, allowing a league-worst 333 yards-per-game through the air.
Those sorts of numbers aren’t a recipe for success. And with Justin Jefferson on the opposite sidelines, things could get even uglier.
Football is a team sport, but the Vikings’ receiver is a game-breaking talent. If he’s allowed the freedom to stroll through the secondary, he’s going to finish with a massive stat line.
Ideally, the best teams enter each contest with the conviction to play their game. The Chargers, however, aren’t one of the NFL’s elite. And, given their struggles this season, they’ll have to specifically game plan to contain Jefferson. If they can manage that feat, Herbert and his offense will have a chance.
If LA’s defense continues to leak, though, it could turn into 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 shift our attention elsewhere in the offense.
Ahead of 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. With the Vikings, though, he has the opportunity for a fresh start.
Given that Alexander Mattison only has 62 rushing yards through the first two games of the 2023 campaign, it’s safe to assume that Akers will get some touches. It will be interesting to see both how much of an opportunity he gets, and what he does with those carries.
From a wider perspective, it will also be worth watching how the Vikings offense performs if there’s a functioning ground game. It’s easy to see Jefferson drawing defenses away from the line, creating cleaner running lanes, but, thus far, Minnesota hasn’t been able to strike that balance.
Betting Lines, Over/Under for Chargers vs. Vikings
Since Los Angeles and Minnesota have identical 0-2 records, it’s easy to expect an evenly matched game. The oddsmakers, it seems, believe that’s what we’ll get on Sunday.
As of Friday, FanDuel Sportsbook lists the Vikings as narrow 1.5-point favorites. The Over/Under line is also set at 53.5 points.