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Minnesota Vikings vs. Los Angeles Chargers Odds & Game Pick (2021)

by November 12, 2021
Dalvin Cook

Two teams that love to play close games will square off for what’s sure to be a — you guessed it — close contest!

The home team Los Angeles Chargers are 4-2 in six games decided by one possession, while the Minnesota Vikings are 2-5 in such games, with two losses in overtime.

Can Justin Herbert and the Chargers cover as short home favorites? Or will Kirk Cousins and the Vikings pull off the upset? Let’s break it down.

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  • Opening line: Chargers -3
  • Current line: Chargers -3.5
  • Total: 53

Minnesota keeps finding ways to lose

You could make a genuine argument that the Vikings could be 8-0 or 7-1 instead of 3-5. Their five losses have come by a combined 18 points, and many of them have come in heartbreaking fashion. As someone with a ticket on Minnesota’s win total going over, I’m pretty devastated.

Take last week’s loss to Baltimore as an example. The Vikings held a 24-10 lead in the second half. They were up 24-17 in the fourth quarter. They got a stop on the first drive of overtime after Baltimore won the toss. But after the Vikings went three-and-out in their only drive of overtime, you just knew it was over.

What’s especially maddening about Minnesota is they’re a talented team. Most teams would love to have a playmaking cast of Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen. But not many desire their quarterback, Kirk Cousins.

Cousins started the season playing at a high level, but he’s far too conservative. Cousins will happily check the ball down and avoid even a remote risk of throwing an interception, which is fine. But he’s averaging only 6.8 intended air yards per pass attempt, which ranks 30th among quarterbacks. Cousins is simply playing things too safe given the weapons at his disposal.

Despite Cousins’ conservative play, the Vikings rank sixth in passing DVOA. The problem is they rank 29th in rushing DVOA behind an offensive line that simply isn’t paving many holes for Cook. However, Minnesota’s run game could get going against a Chargers defense that is awful against the run.

Defensively, the Vikings were having a great season, ranking eighth in DVOA and third in pass defense DVOA. But Minnesota will be without top pass rusher Danielle Hunter, safety Harrison Smith, and cornerback Patrick Peterson. That’s bad news against Los Angeles’ high-powered passing attack.

Chargers undervalued at home? 

The widespread love for the Chargers as a Super Bowl long shot has seemingly cooled off. But the Chargers remain a solid team that should be in the mix for a playoff berth.

The Los Angeles offense ranks ninth in total DVOA, seventh in passing DVOA, and 14th in rushing DVOA. Justin Herbert has proven himself as a franchise quarterback, and he’s got plenty of weapons at his disposal. But what’s especially encouraging is the offensive line play. The Chargers have an adjusted sack rate allowed of just 4.7% and have given up only 14 sacks on the season. Herbert should have plenty of time to throw against a short-handed Vikings defense.

While the Chargers are impressive offensively, Brandon Staley’s bunch leaves much to be desired on defense. The Chargers rank dead-last in rushing DVOA and are the only team in the NFL giving up five yards per carry. Part of that is by design, but part of it is a lack of talent in the front seven. Staley’s scheme is designed to take away big plays through the air and invites opponents to run on them. That could play right into Minnesota’s hands, and Cook could be in store for a huge day.

Bottom Line 

The Vikings match up really well with the Chargers and should have no problem running the ball against them. Considering Los Angeles has several defensive backs on the injury report, Cousins could carve up this secondary too. Herbert and the Chargers should get theirs too against a wounded Vikings defense.

This game feels like it’ll be a back-and-forth shootout. With Los Angeles having virtually no home-field advantage, I’ll gladly take the points between two teams that can’t help but play close games. I also anticipate plenty of points in what could be one of the most thrilling games of the day.

The picks: Vikings +3 or better (don’t bet below 3), over 52

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