March commences with a mini-whirlwind as the Minnesota Vikings, among other NFL teams, Week 18 destination was announced in a joint leak by NBC Sports’ Peter King and Warren Sharp of Sharp Football Anaylsis.
Should the NFL officially expand to an 18-week regular-season format – as is heavily expected – the Vikings will travel to California for a date with the Los Angeles Chargers on January 9th, 2022.
every team's 17th game in 2021
SEA at PIT
LAR at BAL
ARI at CLE
SF at CIN
GB at KC
CHI at LV
MIN at LAC
DET at DEN
WFT at BUF
NYG at MIA
DAL at NE
PHI at NYJ
NO at TEN
TB at IND
CAR at HOU
ATL at JAX
*per Peter King who says a 17th game is "highly likely" in be added in 2021
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) March 1, 2021
All NFC North teams would visit an AFC West opponent to cap the 2021 season. Interestingly, the NFL tentatively places on the docket a Patrick Mahomes-Aaron Rodgers duel to finish the 2021 season. Both men were season-long frontrunners to win the MVP award in 2020, and Rodgers ultimately snagged the trophy (with Josh Allen receiving the second-most votes).
A Vikings-at-Chargers contest also gives fans the Battle of Justins. Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, if healthy, would host 2020’s Offensive Rookie of the Year runner-up, Justin Jefferson. The men were immersed in a contentious debate throughout 2020 as fans debated which Justin was the more impressive rookie. Voters chose Herbert, although Jefferson was a better wide receiver among wide receivers than Herbert was quarterback among quarterbacks.
The Last Time Was Kind
When the Vikings last played the Chargers, the contest transpired at a makeshift stadium in StubHub Field. Vikings fans overtook the stadium in Week 15 of 2019 because Chargers-related enthusiasm was at a stunning low. Minnesota spanked Los Angeles 39-10 behind a notable performance from head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense. From that day forward, prosperous showings by the Vikings defense have been scarce.
Ifeadi Odenigbo returned a fumble for a touchdown on that afternoon – the last defensive touchdown by the Vikings to date. Kirk Cousins found Irv Smith Jr. for the rookie’s second career touchdown to start the scoring festivities. And then RB3 Mike Boone finished off the Chargers with two late rushing scores.
The win moved the Vikings to a 10-4 record on the 2019 season, and it would be the final regular-season win of that season. Minnesota ended the campaign with losses to the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.
If the Week 18 game versus the Chargers comes to fruition, it will be the first time that the Vikings have visited SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Too, it would be the first time that the Vikings have played a Chargers team without Philip Rivers at the helm since 2003.
If good health is on the agenda, Minnesota will face Justin Herbert for the first time. In a past life, the Vikings were 3-1 against Philip Rivers. Before that, Minnesota lost to Doug Flutie and the Chargers in 2003.
Overall, the Vikings are 7-6 in wins and losses versus the Chargers all-time. Minnesota has topped Los Angeles on two straight occasions – in 2015 and 2019. When the Vikings last dropped a game to the Chargers, it was the dawn of the [brief] Donovan McNabb era. The year was 2011, McNabb was the signal-caller, Percy Harvin took the opening kickoff to the house for a 103-yard return touchdown – and the Vikings ultimately lost 24-17. It was a theme. Minnesota ended the 2011 season with a 3-13 record – tied for its worst standing in franchise history.
The proposed Vikings-to-Los Angeles Week 18 showdown is also a bit goofy because AFC-versus-NFC games generally alternate venues. That is – the Chargers are “due” to visit U.S. Bank Stadium for the first time in 2023.
But the new Week 18 wrinkle evidently pumps the brakes on that tradition – or at least creates some amendment.