More than the spread, more than the over-under, more than the weather forecast … in looking at the Vikings-Chargers matchup, here are Seven Bold Predictions.
MATT VENSEL, Vikings beat writer
Veteran outside linebacker Chad Greenway played 14 snaps last week. That was the lowest total of his career. But Greenway will go even lower this week. Greenway played so little against the Lions because he no longer plays in the Vikings’ nickel package and the Lions used three-receiver formations for most of the game. The Chargers go three-wide even more frequently, trotting out three receivers on around 92 percent of their plays this season. If they stick with that script today, Greenway will spend a lot of time on the sidelines, possibly getting a single-digit snap count.
MARK CRAIG, Vikings beat writer, On The NFL columnist
While Adrian Peterson and Melvin Gordon fight over who gets to keep or steal the torch, quiet little Marcus Sherels will return a punt for a touchdown. San Diego’s poor coverage units will be the difference in this game as the Vikings special teams take a leading role. And, while we’re at it, we’ll throw in a gift of faith for Blair Walsh: A go-ahead, stop-nagging-me, fourth-quarter 50-yard field goal.
JIM SOUHAN, columnist
The Vikings win, 31-16, and every Vikings fan who thought the season ended in Santa Clara will now predict that the season will end in … Santa Clara.
CHIP SCOGGINS, columnist
Adrian Peterson set an NFL single-game rushing record with 296 yards last time he faced the Chargers. A repeat? Not quite. Peterson rushes for 210 yards and two touchdowns in a victory.
MICHAEL RAND, @Randball and Page 2 guy
Eight years ago, LaDainian Tomlinson unofficially passed the running back torch to Adrian Peterson when the then-Vikings rookie rushed for an NFL record 296 yards. Now the Chargers have the hotshot rookie, Melvin Gordon. But Peterson won’t pass the torch; instead, he will gain at least three times as many yards on the ground as Gordon.
JASON GONZALEZ, Vikings interim beat writer
Norv Turner will continue a trend of revenge victories against his former teams. The Vikings offensive coordinator was San Diego’s head coach from 2007-2012 and will improve to 3-0 in games where he’s facing his former club for the first time since being fired.
CHRIS MILLER, pro sports team leader
Last week, Justin Trattou was the unsung hero for the Vikings, with an interception of Matthew Stafford to set up a field goal in what was a fairly tight game against the Lions. Today, that unsung hero will be rookie linebacker Eric Kendricks. The rookie linebacker from UCLA gets a key interception in a tight game.
By the way, the Vikings are a two-point favorite, the over-under is 44.5 and the weather forecast is for bring your shades and sunscreen and leave your parka at home.