The Call: Vikings at San Diego

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 11, 2011 - 8:04 AM
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Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers led the NFL with 4,710 passing yards last year and was fifth with 30 touchdown passes.

Photo: Associated Press, DENIS POROY

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One man's prediction: San Diego 28, Vikings 17 The Chargers have quarterback Philip Rivers leading the league's top-ranked offense of 2010 and have upgraded a defense that also ranked No. 1 in the league with the addition of safety Bob Sanders and linebacker Takeo Spikes. The Vikings have the talent to surprise, but there are too many questions to pick them to win on the road against one of the AFC's best teams.

Record runner has challenge Four years ago as a rookie, Adrian Peterson caught a banged-up Chargers defense at precisely the right time. The result was an NFL-record 296 yards in a 35-17 victory. Four years later, Peterson is fresh off agreeing to a seven-year, $100 million contract, one that includes $36 million guaranteed, surpassing the $30 million in guarantees Titans RB Chris Johnson recently received. Peterson looked like his All-Pro self in the preseason, but the Chargers upgraded their defense with some speed and experience, including the run-stuffing Sanders.

Good Donovan, bad Donovan? So far, so good for Vikings QB Donovan McNabb. He has looked surprisingly comfortable in the new Vikings offense, which is built around the running game and high-percentage passing to the tight ends. But this offensive unit still hasn't played a full game together. And one of the primary weapons, TE Visanthe Shiancoe, missed the entire preseason because of a hamstring injury. The main question is whether Vikings have the McNabb who was really good for 11 years in Philly or the one that was really bad last year in Washington.

Can the Wall be replaced? The Williams Wall had to fall at some point. Pat, the nose tackle, is out of football. And Kevin, an All-Pro DT, is serving a two-game league suspension. Remi Ayodele will start at nose tackle and Letroy Guion will start at Kevin Williams' spot. The Vikings' new starter at left end, Brian Robison, needs to play well. If he doesn't, right end Jared Allen will get more attention and fewer chances to pressure Rivers. Putting pressure on Rivers is the key to beating the Chargers. The Vikings want to do it with their front four but might have to blitz more.

MANO-A-MANO: A MATCHUP TO WATCH

Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield vs. San Diego wide receiver Vincent Jackson.

About Winfield He's not a shutdown corner, so he won't shadow Jackson. But all eyes will be on this matchup when the 6-5 Jackson lines up across from the 5-9 Winfield.

About Jackson At 6-5, 230 pounds, he's one of the league's bigger, more physical receivers. Had 2,265 yards and 16 TDs receiving in 2008-09 before holding out for all but five games last year.

Who has the edge? Jackson's size gives him advantages, but man coverage will be limited. Advantage: Jackson

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Texas 5 Bottom 4th Inning
Miami 1
Seattle 1 Top 3rd Inning
Philadelphia 0
Toronto - R. Dickey 1:10 PM
Milwaukee - J. Nelson
NY Mets - Z. Wheeler 2:35 PM
Oakland - J. Samardzija
Atlanta - A. Wood 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - G. Cole
Houston - S. Feldman 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - M. Pineda
Arizona - T. Cahill 6:05 PM
Washington - T. Roark
LA Angels - G. Richards 6:10 PM
Boston - C. Buchholz
Detroit - R. Porcello 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi
Cincinnati - J. Cueto 6:15 PM
St. Louis - L. Lynn
San Francisco - J. Peavy 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - E. Jackson
Baltimore - W. Chen 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi
Cleveland - T. House 7:10 PM
Minnesota - R. Nolasco
Kansas City - D. Duffy 7:40 PM
Colorado - J. De La Rosa
San Diego - E. Stults 9:10 PM
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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