NFL Picks: Grab Vikings -2.5 vs. Chargers Before the Line Moves to -3

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 9:04 PM GMT

The Minnesota Vikings begin a stretch of three straight games against AFC West opponents on Sunday as they host San Diego in one of those tough early starts for a West Coast team. The Vikes are -2.5 on Bookmaker's NFL odds with a total of 44.5.

Vikings Stifle Lions' Run Game
The Minnesota Vikings were pretty inept offensively in Week 1, a 20-3 loss at San Francisco. Adrian Peterson, in his first game since Week 1 of last season, was a total non-factor, rushing 10 times for 31 yards. Teddy Bridgewater had a rating of only 79.0.

Minnesota looked like a different team in Week 2's home opener vs. Detroit, a 26-16 victory. Peterson played like he had a chip on his shoulder, rushing 29 times (his most carries since Week 17 of the 2012 season) for 134 yards. It was his first regular season game in Minnesota in 658 days. Peterson (12,577) passed Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter (12,410) for the most combined receiving, returning and rushing yards in Vikings history. Peterson did fumble three times vs. Detroit, however.

Bridgewater had a rating of 120.6, completing 14-for-18 for 153 yards and a touchdown to tight end Kyle Rudolph. Bridgewater also ran for a score. The Vikings defense, which was gashed for 230 yards rushing against the 49ers, allowed only 38 vs. Detroit. Quarterback Matthew Stafford finished the game as the Lions' leading rusher, based on four scrambles for 20 yards. The 38 yards allowed were the fewest for any Mike Zimmer defense since the Bengals held Chicago to 35 rushing yards in October 2009.

Minnesota, which has won four straight at its temporary home on the University of Minnesota campus, made interesting news this week in announcing it had cut ties with long-time mascot Ragnar. Joe Juranitch had worked as Ragnar since 1994, but he wasn't at the Lions game. The fan favorite would lead the Vikings out of the tunnel on his motorcycle during pregame introductions, wearing a horned helmet and furs. Apparently, the guy made an outrageous demand of $20,000 per game for the next 10 years (so $1.6 million), up from $1,500. That's craziness.

 

Rivers Just Short Of Record
San Diego staged a big home rally to beat Detroit 33-28 in Week 1. Then on Sunday, the Bolts lost 24-19 in Cincinnati. QB Philip Rivers carried a streak of 20 straight completions into that game and the record is 24 in a row by Donovan McNabb. Rivers was good on his first two throws but No. 3 was incomplete. He finished 21-for-27 for 241 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. He is now the franchise's all-time leader in TD passes with 256.

Rookie running back Melvin Gordon, a top Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite on NFL odds entering the season, rushed 16 times for 88 yards. He had three runs of at least 20 yards. Keenan Allen followed up his franchise-record 15 catch day against Detroit with only two for 16 yards vs. Cincinnati. The Chargers remain without future Hall of  Fame tight end Antonio Gates, who is suspended the first four games. They also didn't have right guard D.J. Fluker due to injury against the Bengals and likely won't for this game. Rivers was sacked four times by the Bengals.

The Chargers and Vikings have one big link: Minnesota offensive coordinator Norv Turner. He was the Chargers’ head coach from 2007 to 2012. He was 56-40 with San Diego.

San Diego's last visit to Minnesota was memorable -- for the Vikings. That was 2007 and Peterson, in just the eighth game of his pro career, set the NFL's single-game rushing mark with 296 yards in the Vikings' 35-17 win. A whopping 253 of those yards came in the second half. Also in that game, San Diego Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie set an NFL record with a 109-yard touchdown return of a missed field goal. The Chargers won the most recent meeting, 24-17 at home in 2011. A team has never won consecutive games in all-time series.

NFL Picks: Really tough for those Pacific Time Zone teams to play these 1 p.m. ET starts. San Diego sure didn't play all that well in a similar start time last week. Take the Vikings and go 'under' with your NFL picks at Bookmaker. The Bolts are just 3-10 ATS in their past 13 overall. The Vikings have covered five of their past six at home. The 'under' is 4-1 in the Vikings' past five. 

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