Vikings, Chargers both look to get off the schneid, grab first win

Field Level Media

September 22, 2023 at 10:19 pm.

A pair of winless teams will go for their first victory of the season when the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis.

Los Angeles (0-2) is coming off a two-point loss against the Miami Dolphins in Week 1 and a three-point overtime loss against the Tennessee Titans in Week 2.

Chargers coach Brandon Staley expressed confidence that his team could overcome a frustrating start.

“We have 15 games ahead of us,” Staley said. “We lost two really tough games right there at the end. … We’re doing a lot of good things out there. The mistakes that we made out there, we can correct all of them.”

The same message resonates with Minnesota (0-2), which has also lost each of its first two games by single digits against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles.

In some ways, the Vikings have been their own worst enemy. They have the most turnovers (seven) and the worst turnover ratio (minus-6) of any team in the NFL heading into Week 3.

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins said limiting turnovers needs to be a priority going forward.

“That’s kind of the message, right?” Cousins said. “We’re 0-2. We’re minus-6 in turnover margin. If you had told me, after two weeks, we’d be minus-6 (in turnover margin), I would tell you we’d be 0-2. So you don’t really have to look at much else. That pretty much tells the story.

“That being said, we’re in those games. It has come down to the last couple plays. There’s something encouraging to take from that, but only so much. At some point, the bottom line is you’ve got to win.”

The Vikings bolstered their rushing attack Wednesday by acquiring Cam Akers from the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for a swap of 2026 draft picks, multiple outlets reported.

Minnesota is still coping with the offseason loss of Dalvin Cook. He joins an RB room composed of two-game starter Alexander Mattison along with Ty Chandler and Myles Gaskin.

A dynamic receiving group could help the Vikings come out on top Sunday. Justin Jefferson has 20 catches for 309 yards in his first two games, while rookie wideout Jordan Addison and veteran tight end T.J. Hockenson have two touchdown receptions apiece.

Chargers pass rusher Joey Bosa will try to disrupt the Vikings’ passing attack by putting pressure on Cousins. Bosa leads Los Angeles with two sacks, while Morgan Fox, Tuli Tuipuloto and Kenneth Murray Jr. have one apiece.

Like the Vikings, the Chargers boast a dynamic offense with multiple playmakers. Justin Herbert has completed 67.6 percent of his passes and has yet to throw an interception this season, while Keenan Allen (14 catches, 187 yards, 2 TDs) and Mike Williams (12 catches, 128 yards) lead the team in receiving.

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (ankle) missed practice all week and was ruled out on Friday. It will be his second straight missed game.

Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter already has four sacks and will try to add to that total against Herbert. Safety Camryn Bynum leads the team with 25 tackles.

This will be the teams’ first meeting since 2021, when Minnesota won 27-20. The Vikings have won three games in a row against the Chargers and lead the all-time series 8-6.

Staley said his group would be ready.

“We’ve got guys who are finishers,” Staley said. “We’ve got a quarterback who’s as good as anybody in the NFL, a guy who’s brought us back time and time again. … I think defensively we’ve got a lot of closers. We just got to do it together as a team.”

Cousins spoke about the Vikings, but he might as well have been talking about the Chargers.

“We’ve dug ourselves a little bit of a hole,” he said. “And we’ve got to get out of it.”

Minnesota center Garrett Bradbury (back) is questionable while linebacker Marcus Davenport (ankle) will miss his second straight game.

Chargers linebacker Eric Kendricks (hamstring) will miss his second straight game, as well as his return to Minnesota. Kendricks starred on the Vikings’ defense for the past eight seasons.

Also, Bosa (hamstring) was a limited practice participant on Friday and is listed as questionable. Linebackers Daiyan Henley (hamstring) and Chris Rumph II (hamstring) and defensive lineman Christopher Hinton (back) also are questionable.