Another week, another roundtable here at Bolts From The Blue.
After being burned twice in as many weeks to begin the season with the entire staff picking the Chargers, it’d be understandable to start seeing us begin to shift our confidence away from the team, right?
This game could easily go either way. We just know something crazy is going to happen. What we also know is that one of these teams will inevitably win their first game of the season. Here’s to hoping it’s the Chargers.
Let’s go ahead and dive in to the predictions.
Michael Peterson: This game has the chance to be insane. The Chargers are the Vikings of the AFC. At the same time, the Vikings are the Chargers of the NFC. Both teams can’t get out of their own way and somehow, one of these teams will inevitably win their first game.
The biggest matchup here is obviously the Chargers’ secondary against Vikings All-Everything wideout Justin Jefferson. Jefferson is averaging over 150 receiving yards per game and it’s tough not to see him push for those numbers again against the league’s worst pass defense. The Vikings haven’t been great at protecting the football and the Chargers haven’t given the ball away yet. One would think that ultimately plays a role in this one, but history tells us this season that winning the turnover battle doesn’t mean a victory.
The Vikings are the worst run offense in the NFL with 69 yards through two games. The Chargers defense has been pretty good so far at stopping the run but it sure does seem like it’s at the cost of air yards.
If the secondary can hunker down and play up to their potential, I think this is a winnable game. However. after going for the Chargers the first two weeks, I’m going to go the reverse psychology route and pick against them in a chance to undo this bad streak.
Final Score: Vikings 31-30
Kyle DeDiminicantanio: Never follow my picks when it relates to the Chargers. I can normally put together some wicked player prop parlays by identifying the player or two that will chew up the Chargers defense, but the homer in me dilutes the ability to be objective when coming up with a final score. Maybe that will deteriorate if the disappointments keep raining down.
But today is not that day.
Even in a disappointing season, Brandon Staley has enough creativity and enough talent on the defensive side of the ball to go to surprise everyone and create an illusion that the team turned a corner. Last year, that game was against the Miami Dolphins, and the magic rolled until the last game of the regular season. This year, that game will be against the Minnesota Vikings.
So far the Vikings offense has been one dimensional and plays into the strength of Staley’s defense. Jordan Addison is adapting to the NFL game, and though he’s reliable I haven’t seen T.J. Hockenson really take over a game the way we’re used to seeing with Travis Kelce. The Vikings have to have a standout game from their standout player, and I just wouldn’t be surprised if this was the week our cornerbacks step up and challenge Justin Jefferson, and our pass rush finally starts getting to the quarterback.
The will inspire some hope, but it will ultimately be against a NFC team that is having trouble finding its footing.
Final Score: Chargers 34-24
Ryan Watkins: This is going to be a shootout and I see the Points Total on offer of 54.0 on DraftKings Sportsbook being surpassed with plenty of time left on the clock. The Chargers defense has given up more points than almost any other team but the Vikings aren't far behind them and both offences have found success in pretty contrasting styles.
Getting into the areas of the game where I see the game being won and I envision the Bolts’ run game getting back towards that Week 1 performance even without Austin Ekeler, the Vikings’ run defence has been graded as the 2nd worst in the league with a dismal 47.8 and with the best way to keep Justin Jefferson quiet is to keep him off the field. The Chargers need to have consistently sustained drives and the run game, which Moore has shown he is willing to rely on, is going to be the key in achieving some level of game control. Additionally, the Vikings pass rush has been ineffective, currently owning the 3rd worst grade amongst all teams, this is something I think is being overlooked as our Bolts own a 74.3 pass block grade and this seems like an advantage on paper.
I think we can all say with some certainty that the line of 101.5 receiving yards for Jefferson is going to be regretful for the sportsbooks, this is currently an all-time bad pass defence and there’s no ceiling to what arguably the best receiver in the league can achieve. The key is going to be getting Kirk to force the ball to other areas or even better to Minnesota’s running game that is currently the 2nd worst in the league according to PFF, they might have traded for Cam Akers but he isn’t going to be involved on Sunday.
Despite the fears of the Chargers’ fanbase I am (very) quietly confident in a better outcome due to a simple equation: A good run game vs. a bad run defense + a good pass pro vs. a bad pass rush = a Bolt-shaped W.
Final Score: Chargers 34-27