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In-Depth Prediction, Preview, and Odds

Vikings vs. Chargers Prediction

Sunday, December 15, 2019 at 4:05pm EST
Stub Hub Center, Carson

This article covers a past game!

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In-depth Coverage

This is an in-depth analysis of this game, covering every possible detail and angle. Use the table of contents to navigate between each section, or just jump on in!

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Table of Contents

Last Updated: Sunday, December 15, 2019 at 11:04am EST

Introduction

National Football League action on Sunday afternoon and the NFC North will duke it out with the AFC West as the Minnesota Vikings grapple with the Los Angeles Chargers. This contest has a start time of 4:05 pm ET and will take place at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. These teams last met back in 2015 and the Vikings won that game at home by a score of 31-14.

The Vikings enter this game off a 20-7 home win over Detroit to move to 9-4 on the year while the Chargers are off a 45-10 road win over Jacksonville, which puts them at 5-8 on the year.

Minnesota Vikings Review

The Minnesota Vikings have had a solid season so far as they enter this game at 9-4. The Vikes are sitting in second place in the NFC North, just one game behind the Packers but if the playoffs started today, they would be in as the 2nd wildcard. Minnesota would face the Seahawks on the road in that game and that us the same team that they lost two a couple of weeks ago. The Vikes lost that game by a score of 37-30 but they were able to bounce back last week with a 20-7 home win over the Lions. The Vikings are now 6-0 at home this year but 3-4 on the road.

The defense has been tough for the Vikings this year overall but they have had a few issues against the pass. Minnesota did not have such issues last week as they faced rookie David Blough in his 2nd career start and he threw for just 205 yards with a TD and two INTs in the game. Their task will get a whole lot tougher in this one as they are facing Philip Rivers and his solid receiving corps. Minnesota is 16th in the league against the pass. Can they slow down one of the best passing attacks in the league and at the same time keep their hopes alive of winning the NFC North title? We shall see.

Los Angeles Chargers Review

It has not been a very good year for the Chargers so far as they enter this game at 5-8 and thanks to a loss to the Steelers earlier in the year, the Bolts have been eliminated from postseason play. Now they are just playing out the string and while LA cannot knock the Vikings from postseason play, they can put a dent in their hopes of winning the NFC North. The Bolts had a three-game losing streak going but they were able to end that skid by pounding the Jaguars on the road last week by a score of 45-10. Where has that effort been from the chargers all season long? It was their most complete win.

The Bolts outgained the Jags 525-252 in the contest. Philip Rivers had a huge game as he threw for 314 yards with three TDs and no INTs. It was clearly his best effort of the year. Rivers has now thrown for 3748 yards with 20 TDs and 15 INts on the year. The INTs have been an issue for Rivers this year and those INTs have cost his team at times this year. Rivers will be facing a Minnesota defense that has had it struggles against the pass. Can he limit the mistakes and help his team play spoiler against the Vikings? You'll have to read on to find out.

The Running Game

Minnesota Vikings Running Offense
vs. Los Angeles Chargers Running Defense

Minnesota Vikings Running Offense

The Vikings have had a very good ground game this year and it helps that they have had a healthy Dalvin Cook toting the rock. He has had a very good year and was the missing piece to the Minnesota offense last year. Cook enters this game with 1108 yards rushing, which is 4th in the league while sitting tied for first in the league in rushing touchdowns with 13. He leads a Minnesota team that is 4th in the league in rushing and they do run the ball a lot, which is something that the Vikes did not do a year ago.

Minnesota will look to pound the rock at a Los Angeles team that has struggled to stop the run at times. That will, in turn, allow Kirk Cousins to hit some big plays down the field. Alexander Mattison is 2nd on the team with 462 yards and he has made some big plays for Minnesota this year. Mattison is a nice compliment to Cook But he is out for this game. WR Stefon Diggs is third with 57 yards on just four carries.  

Los Angeles Chargers Run Defense

The Bolts have not been great against the run this year but they have also not been horrible either. LA is in the middle of the pack in the league in rushing yards allowed at 108.2 ypg but they will have a tough test in this one against a Minnesota team that does have a strong ground attack. The Bolts have allowed 120.4 ypg on the ground at home but overall they have been better of late, allowing just 100.7 ypg in their last three games.

The good news for the Bolts is that the Vikings have struggled to run the ball of late, having averaged just 78.3 ypg on the ground over their last three games. LA will need to slow the ground game of the Vikings down or Kirk Cousins could have a big game throwing the ball.   

Stats

Minnesota’s Rushing Stats

  • 4th in rushing attempts per game (30.5)
  • 4th in rushing yards per game (135.8)
  • 14th in yards per attempt (4.4)
  • 5th in rushing first downs per game (7.1)

Los Angeles’ Run Defense Stats

  • 16th in run plays per game against (26.2)
  • 17th in rushing yards allowed per game (108.2)
  • 11th in opposing yards per attempt (4.1)
  • 18th in rushing first downs per game against (6.1)

Who has the Edge?

I will give the Vikings the edge in this one. Having a healthy Dalvin Cook and the fact that they have discovered that they are actually a running team has made Minnesota one of the best rushing teams in the league. They have struggled to run the ball of late but the Bolts have allowed 120.4 ypg on the ground at home for the year and LA has been below average against the run overall this year. Minnesota will get their ground game back on track in this one, even without Mattison. 

Advantage: Minnesota Vikings

Los Angeles Chargers Running Offense
vs. Minnesota Vikings Running Defense

Los Angeles Chargers Running Offense

The ground game for the Chargers has not been that good this year and missing Melvin Gordon for about half of the season has not helped. Gordon does lead the team in rushing with 573 yards but he had 885 yards last year and 1105 yards the year before. Still. Let’s look a bit closer at his numbers. He has 573 yards rushing in nine games played and if he had played a full season then Gordon would be on pace for 1018 yards. He is still one of the better backs in the league and it will be interesting to see if he is still a Charger next year.

Austin Ekeler has been a strong weapon for the Chargers in the passing game but he has also been solid when running the ball with 481 yards rushing on the year. The Bolts have a nice 1-2 punch at running back, but still, they have struggled to run the ball overall and they have averaged just 84.8 ypg on the ground at home.      

Minnesota Vikings Run Defense

The Vikings have been decent against the run this year as they have allowed just 101.8 ypg, but the Vikes have allowed 110.9 ypg on the road and 137.3 ypg on the ground over their last three games. Their run defense is struggling at the moment and that could be a problem here as Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler have the ability to torch them on the ground. If the Vikes can’t stop the run then Rivers could have a big game. 

Minnesota has a good defensive line, but it may be wearing down some as the season goes on. Can they get their run defense going against the hot ground game of the Chargers, who have rushed for 134.3 ypg on the ground over their last three games? We shall see.   

  

Stats

Los Angeles’ Rushing Stats

  • 24th in rushing attempts per game (23.5)
  • 22nd in rushing yards per game (97.2)
  • 21st in yards per attempt (4.1)
  • 17th in rushing first downs per game (5.8)

Minnesota’s Run Defense Stats

  • 10th in run plays per game against (24.5)
  • 11th in rushing yards allowed per game (101.8)
  • 12th in opposing yards per attempt (4.2)
  • 4th in rushing first downs per game against (4.4)

Who has the Edge?

I give the Bolts an edge here. Their ground game has not been that good for most of the ear but it has been solid of late as they have rushed for 134.3 ypg over their last three games. They will now be facing Minnesota defense that has allowed 137.3 ypg on the ground over their last three games. I will look for Gordon and Ekeler to have their way with this Minnesota run defense that has struggled of late.

Advantage: Los Angeles Chargers

The Passing Game

Minnesota Vikings Passing Offense
vs. Los Angeles Chargers Passing Defense

Minnesota Vikings Passing Offense

The Vikings are near the middle of the pack in passing and they are 29th in pass attempts per game but when they do pass, they have been very effective. The Vikings are 3rd in the league in completion percentage and 2nd in yards per attempt, plus they lead the league in passer rating. Kirk Cousins has had a solid season as he has thrown for 3274 yards with 24 Tds and just four INTs. He has thrown 11 TD passes to just one INT in his last five games. If it wasn’t for Lamar Jackson or Russell Wilson, Cousins could be the league MVP this year. 

Cousins hopes to get back Adam Thielen back for this one after he has missed the last few games. Thielen has been one of the best receivers in the league the last two years and had 1373 yards receiving last year but he has played in just eight games so far and has just 391 yards receiving. Just think of the numbers that Cousins could have put up had Thielen been healthy all year. Leading the team in receiving has been Stefon Diggs with 997 yards while Dalvin Cook is 2nd with 503.  

Los Angeles Chargers Passing Defense

The Chargers come in ranked fourth in the league in passing yards allowed per game but they have also faced the fewest passes per game this year. A closer look shows that they have some hurdles in this game. The Vikings are 3rd in the league in completion percentage and 1st in passer rating while the Bolts are 31st in completion percentage against and 21st in passer rating against. This will be a tough test for the Los Angeles pass defense but the Bolts have allowed just 159.3 ypg through the air over their last three games. 

LA has also allowed just 188 ypg through the air at home. The Chargers have struggled to get pressure on the QB but they have one of the better pass rushers in the league in Joey Bosa, who has 10.5 sacks on the year. Leading the team in INTs has been Rayshawn Jenkins, who has three of them while Casey Hayward Jr. leads the team in passes defended with eight.  

Stats

Minnesota’s Passing Stats

  • 29th in pass attempts per game (29.8)
  • 14th in passing yards per game (239.1)
  • 3rd in completion percentage (70.10)
  • 2nd in yards per pass attempt (8.0)
  • 8th in yards per pass completion (11.4)
  • 1st in passer rating (112.0)

Los Angeles’ Pass Defense Stats

  • 1st in pass attempts against per game (29.5)
  • 4th in passing yards per game allowed (196.6)
  • 31st in completion percentage allowed (69.53)
  • 16th in yards per pass attempt (6.7)
  • 4th in yards per pass completion (9.6)
  • 26th in sacks per game (2.1)
  • 21st in passer rating allowed (95.4)

Who has the Edge?

I give the Vikings the edge here. The Bolts have struggled to stop the run at times and the Vikings will get their passing game going because they will be able to run against LA. Minnesota has not thrown the ball all that much this year, but when they throw the ball, Minnesota has been very effective. The Vikes are 3rd in the league in pass completion and 2nd in yards per pass attempt. The Bolts are 31st in the nation in pass percentage defense and 16th in yards per attempt allowed. Those numbers alone show that the Vikings have an edge in this category.

Advantage: Minnesota Vikings

Los Angeles Chargers Passing Offense
vs. Minnesota Vikings Passing Defense

Los Angeles Chargers Passing Offense

The Chargers are once again near the top of the league standings in passing as they enter this game ranked 5th in yards gained, 6th in yards per attempt, and 4th in tards per completion. Philip Rivers has made many mistakes this year as he has 15 INTs, but still, he is a dangerous QB and he has plenty of weapons to work with. Rivers has thrown for 3748 yards with 20 TDs. If it wasn’t for all the INTs, then it could have been a monster year for Rivers and some of his mistakes have cost his team this year.  He will look for a good showing against a Minnesota defense that has struggled some against the pass this year. 

The Chargers have a solid WR corps that has been led by Keenan Allen, who has 947 yards receiving on the year. 2nd on the team is Mike Williams, who has 841 yards and at 21 yards per catch while 3rd is RB Austin Ekeler with 830 yards receiving and 4th is TE Hunter Henry with 536. Four receivers with at least 536 yards receiving. This is a dangerous group.   

Minnesota Vikings Passing Defense

The Vikings have not been as good against the pass as the last couple of years as they come in ranked 16th against the pass. The Vikings have allowed 236.6 ypg through the air overall and 248 ypg passing on the road but they have been a bit better of late, allowing just 219 ypg passing over their last three games. That is the kind of defense the Vikings have been hoping to play this year, especially against the pass. If they can’t stop the pass in this game then they could have a long afternoon ahead of them.

The Vikings have been able to get some pressure on the quarterback as they are 10th in the league in sacks per game. Danielle Hunter leads the team in sacks at 12.5 while Everson Griffen is 2nd with eight. Anthony Harris leads the team in interceptions with four while Eric Kendricks leads the team with passes defended with 12.       

Stats

Los Angeles’ Passing Stats

  • 15th in pass attempts per game (36.4)
  • 5th in passing yards per game (278.5)
  • 12th in completion percentage (65.12)
  • 6th in yards per pass attempt (7.7)
  • 4th in yards per pass completion (11.8)
  • 14th in passer rating (91.2)

Minnesota’s Pass Defense Stats

  • 28th in pass attempts against (37.3)
  • 16th in passing yards per game allowed (236.6)
  • 24th in completion percentage allowed (64.74)
  • 8th in yards per pass attempt (6.3)
  • 6th in yards per pass completion (9.8)
  • 10th in sacks per game (2.9)
  • 14th in passer rating allowed (88.9)

Who has the Edge?

I give the Chargers an edge in this category but it is a slight edge. That Vikings have struggled against the pass some this year but they have been better of late allowing just 219 ypg over their last three games. Still, the Vikes have allowed 248 ypg passing on the road and the Bolts have one of the best passing attacks in the league. Philip Rivers is having a solid season, minus the INTs, and he has a strong receiving corps, which also includes RB Astin Ekeler. I feel that this category is a slight win for the Bolts.

Advantage: Los Angeles Chargers

Intangibles

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings enter this game at 3-4 on the road for the year and they have averaged 24.7 ppg and have allowed 23.4 ppg in those games. Minnesota is 11th in total offense at 374.8 ypg and 7th in scoring at 26.1 ppg. They are 9th in offensive yards per points 14.4 and 5th in yards per play at 6.0, plus 10th in third-down conversion percentage at 43.59%. Let’s look at the kicking. The Vikings are 17th in kick return average at 21.8 and 23rd in punt return average at 6.2, plus they are 23rd in net punting at 41.9 and 5th in FG% at 90%.

On defense, the Vikings are 14th in total yards allowed at 338.5 ypg and 7th in scoring defense at 19.2 ppg. Minnesota has a defensive yards per point average of 17.7, which is 6th in the league and 22nd in yards per play at 5.8. Lastly, the Vikings are 10th in penalties per game at 6.5 and 9th in turnover margin per game at +0.4.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers enter this game at 2-3 here at home for the year and they have averaged 21.2 ppg and have allowed 21.2 ppg in those games. Los Angeles is 10th in total offense at 375.7 ypg and 18th in scoring at 22.2 ppg. They are 28th in offensive yards per points 16.9 and 4th in yards per play at 6.1, plus 8th in third-down conversion percentage at 43.95%. Let’s look at the kicking. The Chargers are 23rd in kick return average at 21.1 and 28th in punt return average at 5.1, plus they are 2nd in net punting at 47.7 and 22nd in FG% at 75%.

On defense, the Chargers are 4th in total yards allowed at 304.8 ypg and 8th in scoring defense at 19.3 ppg. Los Angeles has a defensive yards per point average of 15.8, which is 15th in the league and 11th in yards per play at 5.3. Lastly, the Chargers are 12th in penalties per game at 6.8 and 29th in turnover margin per game at -0.8. 

Final Outlook

This is a tough one for me as I have two favorite teams in the NFL and they are playing each other in this game. Uggh. LOL. Still, I have to go with the Vikings as they have much more to play for at the moment. The Bolts are out of the playoff picture and they are a team that doesn’t really have a home-field advantage. More often than not, their opponents have had more fans in the stands than they have had. The Vikings are just 3-4 on the road but they have outscored their foes in those games while the Bolts have gone just 2-3 at home. 

The Vikings have a solid edge in the running game and while the Bolts have a slight edge in their passing game against the Viking defense, it is not enough for them to win the game. Rivers still makes too many mistakes and kirk Cousins does not. He has one of the best passer ratings in the league. A big stat to look at is offensive yards per point and the Chargers 28th in that category while the Vikings are 4th. LA will gain a lot of yards but they do not put a lot of points on the board. The Vikings gain yards and they convert those yards into points. Take the Vikings in this game as they clearly need the game more and the Bolts do not have a home-field advantage.   

Trends Are Courtesy Of Covers.com

  • The Vikings are 11-5-1 ATS in their last 17 games as a favorite
  • The Vikings are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games in Week 15

  • The Chargers are 7-18-1 ATS in their last 26 games after scoring more than 30 points in their previous game
  • The Chargers are 7-18-1 ATS in their last 26 home games
  • The Chargers are 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight-up win 

   

Latest Updates, Injury Reports, and Line Movements

Prediction: Minnesota -2.5

Second Opinion on this pick from StatSalt.com

Additional Insiders' Best Bets

Full-game Total Bet

Insiders Status:

Rating:

I will be looking at the Over in this one. The Chargers have been solid on defense this year but the Vikings have a solid offense and they will get their fair share of points in this one. The Vikings can run the ball and the Chargers have struggled to stop it. That will open up lanes for Cousins to hit some big plays down the field. Getting Thielen backs for Minnesota makes this receiving corps even more dangerous. 

The Bolts have a very good offense, especially their passing game and the Vikings have struggled against the pass on the road as they have allowed 248 ypg through the air away from home. LA has averaged just 21.2 ppg at home but I see them getting a few more than that in this one as the Vikings have allowed 23.4 ppg on the road. This game has a shot at being a shootout as the Vikings need this game in the worst way and the Bolts are playing free as they have nothing to play for and nothing to lose. Take the Over.  

Trends Are Courtesy Of Covers.com

  • The Over is 5-1 in Minnesota’s last six games following a straight-up win
  • The Over is 9-4 in Minnesota’s last 13 games as a road favorite

Prediction: Over 45
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Written By David Hess

David has always had a fascination with numbers and sports, so he combined the two to become a handicapper and a writer for us here at Winners & Whiners, along with StatSalt. All the information that David puts in his articles are well-researched and his predictions are well-thought out. He is a big fan of all the major pro sports and the colleges making David a very versatile and a constantly winning handicapper. David has been writing for the past 10 years and has been handicapping for over 20 years. He will help you beat the Man, so be sure and follow along.