Desperate Vikings Draw Desperate Week 3 Opponent

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings tip-toe into Week 3 owners of an 0-2 record, hoping to rectify a season blundered by fumbles and regression.

Minnesota lost in Week 1 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 20-17, and the Philadelphia Eagles four days later, 34-28.

Desperate Vikings Draw Desperate Week 3 Opponent

And unfortunately for the purple team’s sake, the assignment this weekend doesn’t really get easier. The Los Angeles Chargers will arrive in Minneapolis, and guess what? They’re desperate, too.

Desperate Vikings
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Chargers, aficionados of rollercoaster football games, conducted a topsy-turvy affair Sunday, ultimately losing to the Tennesee Titans 27-24 on the road in overtime. Quarterback Justin Herbert, a reincarnation of Matthew Stafford in that “quarterback wins and losses” don’t apply to him, delivered 305 passing yards, 2 touchdown passes, and no interceptions. Neither team forced any turnovers, so Los Angeles straight-up lost to the better team at home.

Now, like the Vikings, the Chargers must find a victory Sunday or risk their season devolving into futility. One team will be indign for the postseason late Sunday afternoon.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

When the NFL season began 11 days ago, the Vikings were scheduled to win 8.5 games by oddsmakers, a forecast that has dipped to 7.5 wins following the 0-2 start. Meanwhile, the Chargers win projection dropped, as well, starting at 9.5 wins in early September and revised to 8.5 after the loss in Tennessee.

Mathematically speaking, since the advent 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 dance, but there’s not enough sample size in three seasons to declare a sound percentage.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

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

  • 1992 San Diego Chargers
  • 1995 Detroit Lions
  • 1998 Buffalo Bills
  • 2018 Houston Texans
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports.

What to expect on Sunday, aside from dual desperation? Points. Neither team has performed proficiently on defense, although the Vikings group has visibly improved from 2022 to 2023. It just couldn’t stop the run at Philadelphia on Thursday Night Football. Both squads will fling the pigskin all over the place, likely ending up in a game decided by a score of 37-34 or something in that neighborhood.

Moreover — a tip — the Vikings and Chargers organizations have encountered and embraced absurd finishes to games in the last half-decade or so. It may be a safe bet to expect the unexpected.

For the next few days, monitor the status of Chargers RB Austin Ekeler. He missed the Titans game with a bad ankle. For the Vikings, all eyes turn to the injury news involving LT Christian Darrisaw, C Garrett Bradbury, and OLB Marcus Davenport.

Interestingly, Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell and Chargers skipper Brandon Staley were coworkers for a season with the Los Angeles Rams in 2020. O’Connell was Sean McVay’s offensive coordinator, with Staley as defensive coordinator.

Minnesota is favored to topple Staley’s team by one point.

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