3 Reasons Why the Vikings Can Beat the Chargers

Only Week 6
Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

Heading into Week 3 of the NFL season, there may be a few Vikings fans that have become pessimistic.

Rightfully so, considering the Vikings are off to an 0-2 start this season and now find themselves in desperation territory. However, there is still plenty of time for Minnesota to get off the snide against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Here are three reasons why the Vikings can beat the Chargers on Sunday afternoon.

1. A High-Flying Passing Attack

3 Reasons the Vikings Can Beat the Chargers
Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings have had their fair share of struggles in the running game, but there are few offenses in the league on their level from a passing perspective over the first two weeks of the season. The Vikings entered Week 3 ranked second in passing yards, first in passing TDs, and fourth in net yards per attempt.

On the other sideline, the Chargers pass defense has been one of the worst groups in the NFL so far this season. LA has allowed the most passing yards and third-most passing TDs through the first two weeks of the season. In terms of EPA, the Chargers have been the fourth-worst passing defense this year. Minnesota should have no trouble moving through the air on Sunday.

2. Danielle Hunter’s Ferocious Start

Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) celebrates the win after the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Simply put, Danielle Hunter has been a force to be reckoned with through the first two weeks of the season. He leads the league in tackles for loss with 5 and is tied for the sack lead with T.J. Watt at 4.0. Considering the Vikings have opened the year against very strong offensive lines in Tampa Bay and Philadelphia, that only makes this start even more impressive.

From a historical perspective, Hunter is in rarefied air to begin this season. Since 1999, there have only been nine instances where a player has started a season with 5+ TFLs and 4+ sacks through a team’s first two games, per Stathead:

  • Warren Sapp (1999)
  • Keith McKenzie (2000)
  • Joe Johnson (2001)
  • Charlie Clemons (2001)
  • Antwan Odom (2009)
  • Clay Matthews (2010)
  • Clay Matthews (2012)
  • Myles Garrett (2019)
  • Danielle Hunter (2023)

The Chargers boast a pretty strong offensive line, but so far, that hasn’t mattered for Hunter. If he can apply pressure on Justin Herbert, that significantly increases the Vikings chances of winning.

3. Promising Young Defenders

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Sean Tucker (44) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. (40) in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings have brought aboard a number of young defenders over the past two offseasons under GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. While a couple of these acquisitions haven’t panned out so far, there are plenty of success stories as well.

The biggest of these successes may be LB Ivan Pace. After joining the Vikings as an undrafted free agent, Pace has emerged as a starting linebacker to begin the year. Not only is he starting, but he’s playing at an elite level too. His PFF grade of 85.2 ranks 9th among all linebackers in the NFL so far this season.

Additionally, CB Akayleb Evans has made some outstanding plays in pass coverage, giving the Vikings a far-improved secondary this year. With some more strong play from the young defense, Minnesota should be in a great position to win this weekend.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.