X-Factors For The Chargers Matchup With The Vikings
The Chargers got back to winning last week as they took down the Philadelphia Eagles on a game-winning field goal by Dustin Hopkins. There were still plenty of glaring weaknesses that are hopefully being addressed during the week as they prepare for the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings are coming off a heartbreaker as they happened to lose on a game-winning field goal. After being up 2 scores for a large amount of the game, the Ravens came back and won it in overtime. This has been the tale of the Vikings season, they have great players and have played elite at times only to allow teams to break their hearts at the end of the game, sound familiar? This should be a great game with a lot of offense to go around, on that note, let’s get into the x-factors.
X-Factor 1: Slow down Dalvin Cook
I believe I am becoming a broken record every week with this, but it is the same truth every week. If the Chargers were even average defending the run you could make a case they would be 7-1 at the top of the AFC. Unfortunately, however, they have the worst run defense in the NFL, and teams are noticing. No team has really had a problem when they commit to the run against them when this happens, there are long, methodical drives that tire the defense out and most importantly keeps Justin Herbert on the sideline.
Dalvin Cook happens to be a top 5 running back in the entire NFL and poses a serious threat to this team. He had 110 rushing yards on 17 carries against the Ravens last week, I don’t want to imagine what he could do to the Chargers. I understand the secondary is banged up and the Vikings have two elite receivers, but you would hope Brandon Staley stacks the box a bit more this game. If they can limit Cook to even 4 yards per carry, the Chargers should easily win this game, it’s that simple.
X-Factor 2: Create turnovers
I know Kirk Cousins gets a bad rep for not being able to perform well in primetime and for other reasons. However, I must admit that he has been awesome this year for the Vikings. He is up to 2,140 yards, 16 touchdowns, and only 2 interceptions. Say what you want to about Cousins but those are elite numbers and you can’t deny that. This team has some deadly playmakers on it that can make you pay if you let them. It is extremely important that the Chargers change the course of the game with a turnover.
It doesn’t matter if it is a fumble or an interception, a play needs to be made. This secondary is due for an interception so I believe that is where it is going to come from and give Cousins only his third interception of the season. Joey Bosa has been a bit banged up this week but the Chargers have said they expect him to play. Look for Staley to get pressure on Cousins early to free Bosa up like he did more last week to lead to the turnover that they need this week.
X-Factor 3: Continue to feed Keenan Allen
Keenan Allen is coming off a 12 catch 104-yard performance. There was an obvious reason the offense looked better than it had the past couple of games, they got their best weapon involved. There had seemed to be a few communication issues between him and Justin Herbert in recent weeks. That led to some bad drops and bad throws that lost them games.
Herbert went to Allen early and often this game and you could tell they were definitely on the same page in this one. Getting Keenan involved opens up so much, teams will have to double-team him since no one can guard him 1 on 1. When this happens they give Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler their own 1 on 1 opportunitities in the passing game.
Given the direction that both teams have gone this year, there is a good chance that this game will be close and come down to one of the last possessions. The Chargers have been great in these situations while the Vikings haven’t. I look for that trend to continue this week.
Chargers 31 Vikings 24