The Minnesota Vikings hold their playoff destiny in their hands, but they also have a lot to lose against a team with nothing but pride to gain for themselves.
The Los Angeles Chargers (5-8) were eliminated from the postseason picture when the Kansas City Chiefs clinched the AFC West last week, but they can still atone for some of their mistakes down the stretch with strong performances against three quality opponents, starting with the Vikings (9-4). They did already defeat one NFC North team on their home turf this year, knocking off the Green Bay Packers back in Week 9.
Still, the Vikings have an offensive unit that is rolling behind quarterback Kirk Cousins and will return one of his best weapons to the fold this Sunday afternoon on the road.
Here’s a closer look at the matchup between the two NFC North rivals along with background, stats and advice on which side to back in the Week 15 showdown.
Follow the Heavy on Fantasy & Gambling for all the latest sports gambling news, trends, odds, and picks!
Vikings vs. Chargers Game Details
Date: Sunday, December 15
Time: 3:05 p.m. CT
Location: Dignity Health Sports Park (Carson, Calif.)
Spread: Vikings -1
*All odds are courtesy of OddsShark.
Early action on the Vikings still has them within a field goal after opening as 3-point favorites but the line is a little closer across popular books than the opening odds, according to VegasInsider.com. Bettors are trusting the Vikings and their reasons to play with 70 percent of public bets coming in on them, according to ActionNetwork.com.
The total has hardly budged and bettors seem sold on a high-scoring affair with 82 percent of public bets taking the over, but there are reasons to doubt such widespread confidence with both teams touting solid-yet-underrated defenses.
- Minnesota is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games
- Total has gone OVER in 4 of Minnesota’s last 5 games
- Los Angeles is 4-8 ATS in its last 12 games
- Total has gone UNDER in all 5 of Los Angeles’ last 5 home games
- Los Angeles is 7-3 ATS in last 10 games as underdogs
- Total has gone OVER in 4 of last 6 series matchups
*All trends are courtesy of OddsShark.
Analysis & Picks
While the return of star wideout Adam Thielen should help, the Vikings offense can thrive even if his impact is minimal after digging into their depth during his absence. Bisi Johnson and Laquon Treadwell have both proved trustworthy in key moments, while more targets for tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr. has helped take advantage of the special attention paid to star wideout Stefon Diggs and leading rusher Dalvin Cook.
The greater opportunity lies in defense for the Vikings, especially against a turnover-prone Philip Rivers. While the Chargers quarterback tossed three touchdowns with no picks in last week’s win over Jacksonville, he came into that performance having thrown eight combined over his last three games — all losses to division rivals. Pressuring him into mistakes could give the offense enough of an edge to get the job done.
Rivers does produce solid passing numbers as the league’s third-leading passer this year, currently just 252 yards short of having another 4,000-yard season, but the delivery just hasn’t been there with him tossing just five fewer interceptions (15) than touchdowns (20). That said, the talent is there for him to succeed. Mike Williams is only getting healthier in the passing game, while the Chargers can always lead with a one-two punch of Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon to take some burden off of their veteran quarterback’s shoulders.
Pick: Vikings -1
Over-under: Under 45.5
Prediction: Vikings 23, Chargers 17