The Vikings Game on Sunday Will Probably Be Mind-Bending

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Nov 14, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) flexes to the crowd after hanging on to a complete pass for a first down in the first half against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports.

Are you new to Minnesota Vikings football? What’s your extent of knowledge of the Los Angeles Chargers?

Know this, as a response to either question — the Vikings-Chargers game on Sunday will probably get wild.

The Vikings Game on Sunday Will Probably Be Mind-Bending

Both clubs have recent and historical dabbling with close games and shocking endings. In fact, when Vikings games go down to the wire, particularly in ginormous moments, most Vikings loyalists exist in a state of paranoia that someone will mess something up.

The Chargers fanbase has that paranoia, too. You’re not alone.

The Vikings Game on Sunday Will Probably Be Wild
Nov 20, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley (center) talks with quarterback Justin Herbert (10) and quarterback Chase Daniel (4) in the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Weirdness would probably be on the menu if both team’s seasons were humming, to the tune of a win or two. Instead, they’re not. The Vikings and Chargers share identical, back-against-the-wall stakes in Week 3, as the squads are inconveniently situated at 0-2. Heading into 2023 — so, like nine days ago — Minnesota and Los Angeles shared playoff aspirations, which are now hanging by a thread.

If there is no tie, one team will sink to 0-3, and mathematically, its season will be almost kaput.

Aug 5, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell takes to wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) during training camp at Twin Cities Orthopedic Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Need evidence that the Vikings and Chargers conduct zany football games? We’ve got that:

Most Games Decided by One Score or Less,
Since 2020:

Minnesota Vikings (37)
Los Angeles Chargers (36)

Pittsburgh Steelers (33)
Atlanta Falcons (33)
Las Vegas Raiders (32)

Vikings Fans Offer
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings place kicker Greg Joseph (1) celebrates the win after the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Badda bing — the two teams that most love tight-scoring affairs lock horns in a desperation game in Week 3. It’s suspense and team-sponsored flukiness drizzled on top of must-win stakes.

Mathematically speaking, since the dawn of the NFL’s 12-team playoff format in 1990, 11.5% of teams that start 0-2 eventually reach the postseason. Of course, 14 teams now reach the January party, but there’s not enough sample size in three seasons to declare a useful percentage.

Dec 11, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) celebrates after the game against the Miami Dolphins at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

An 0-3 start, though, is doomsday. Since 1990, 2.5% of teams that began a season with three losses wound up playing postseason football. These are those clubs:

  • 1992 San Diego Chargers
  • 1995 Detroit Lions
  • 1998 Buffalo Bills
  • 2018 Houston Texans

The takeaway? Both franchises possess a self-inflicted aura of “Oh, no. They’re going to find a way to blow this.” Thankfully for the Vikings sake, they encountered an opposite fate in 2022, setting an NFL record with 11 wins and 0 losses in one-score games. Out of the gate in 2023, however, Minnesota has already lost two games by less than one score.

The game will get funky. Be prepared. This is what the Vikings and Chargers do on their own; imagine the mayhem when they hook up together, especially in the 4th Quarter or overtime.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by