• The Chargers beat the Packers 26-11 and the Bears 17-16, and Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said there is no doubt they will present a big challenge, saying: "When they don't turn the ball over, they're pretty hard to beat. They've done a good job in those games, and they get some turnovers defensively."

• Pro Football Focus ranks the Vikings as the seventh-best team in the NFL, trailing the Patriots, Ravens, Saints, 49ers, Chiefs and Seahawks.

• The New York Times ran a big college bowl preview and here's what stood out: Auburn, the Gophers' opponent in the Outback Bowl, played the second-toughest schedule in the country behind only South Carolina. Of Auburn's 12 opponents this season, nine made a bowl game, and the Tigers went 6-3 in those games.

Kenechi Udeze, the former Vikings defensive end and 2004 first-round draft pick, is an analyst on the coaching staff of LSU coach Ed Orgeron. The Tigers are the top seed in the College Football Playoff.

• Speaking of the CFP, the Fiesta Bowl will feature one of the semifinals, between Ohio State and Clemson, and the game's executive director is former Wild executive Mike Nealy, a University of Minnesota graduate who grew up in Rose­ville. He has held that role since 2014.

• The Gophers football team has only three commitments from Minnesota players in the class of 2020 — Jonathan Mann of Rosemount, Danny Striggow of Orono and Cody Lindenberg of Anoka. The Gophers also have three recruits from Georgia.

• Twins President Dave St. Peter on the team targeting starting pitchers in free agency: "Clearly Madison Bumgarner is one of the guys on that board, but he's not the only one. There's a few additional guys that we think could make a difference for us, and then there's other individuals that maybe would come via trade that are certainly on our radar."