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Week 3 Preview: Chargers at Vikings

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San Diego Chargers (1-1) at Minnesota Vikings (1-1)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis – TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn

*Keys to the game: Furious fourth-quarter rallies have the Chargers at 1-1, but coach Mike McCoy insists that’s not the plan for San Diego. QB Philip Rivers could benefit from balance that appeared imminent from a more decisive Melvin Gordon. The rookie back rolled for 88 yards at Cincinnati and the Vikings are being bullied for an average of 134 rushing yards per game. Minnesota likes its matchups up front, and will harass Rivers with pressure from every angle hoping to give its press coverage a shot at the ball.

The Vikings found out what had been forgotten over 16 games – Adrian Peterson is still the team’s meal ticket. Peterson had 296 rushing yards in his last game against the Chargers – eight years ago – but offensive coordinator Norv Turner saw the Bengals gouge San Diego on the ground last week and will ride Peterson. Sacked five times in the opener, QB Teddy Bridgewater ran more often last week to escape suspect pass protection. To make the offense thrive, Bridgewater needs the time to set and throw down the field.

*Matchup to watch – Chargers TE Ladarius Green vs. Vikings SLB Anthony Barr: Tied for the team lead in tackles with FS Harrison Smith, the Vikings use Barr as a multi-faceted playmaker. Against the Chargers’ two-TE base personnel, communication between the second and third level of the Vikings’ defense could be the difference in denying Green (10-121 this season) big gains down the seam.

*Player spotlight – Vikings PK Blair Walsh: Yet to recover from a wobbly preseason, Walsh missed a 33-yard extra-point try last week and a field-goal attempt in Week 1, elevating the pink slip watch despite his $14 million contract extension signed in July.

*Fast facts: Chargers WR Malcom Floyd averages 17.3 yards per reception in his career. … Bridgewater is 4-0 with a 111.5 rating at home in his career.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

Chargers RB Melvin Gordon breaks out on a field where he hasn’t always had success, keeping it close enough to force Teddy Bridgewater to play late-game hero with San Diego locked onto Adrian Peterson.

*Our pick: Vikings 27-23.


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