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NORWEGIANS BUILT A ROOF OVER IT: WEEK 3 GAME PREDICTIONS


When I think of the Minnesota Vikings I tend to divide their history into two eras. There is the Bud Grant Era (1967-1983); that of Fran Tarkenton whipping around backwards in a semicircle to avoid the pass rush, the Purple People Eaters defense, and the four Super Bowl losses in the seventies.


The other era, for me at least, is the Ragnar Era.


You know the one. Stringy brown hair, receding hairline hid beneath a horned helmet. Sleeveless animal pelts over a pair of brown sweatpants tucked into a pair of Masters Of The Universe Uggs. A handful of regrettable tattoos--the tribal arm band around the biceps always ages poorly, in my opinion.


But Ragnar's true calling cards were his Harley Davidson motorcycle and his Gjallarhorn. According to Norse mythology, the Gjallarhorn was blown, trumpet like, to signal the arrival of the gods. The chopper... that just signaled the arrival of a mid-life crisis, but I digress.


Ragnar roamed the Vikings sidelines for 21 years before he was unceremoniously shut out in the cold after he tried to negotiate a raise. Seems that asking for $20K a game in 2015 was the equivalent of walking into the Minnesota Vikings board room and splintering the conference room table with a battle ax. Ragnar's gameday rate prior was $1500. He later confessed that the figure was just an opening number for the Vikings to counter, but the NFL seems to have lost his number.


Faster than you can say Svartalfheim, Ragnar was out of the job.


Perhaps the second most ill-fitting aspect of Ragnar (besides the wardrobe and the hog) was the fact that his antics always took place indoors. When I think of Vikings, I think of ships on the open seas; weather-beaten warriors impervious to cold—Bud Grant's teams.


The idea of Norsemen riding Harleys in air-conditioned domes where football is played on Astroturf and where fans synchronize a clapping of overhead hands like Coldplay concertgoers always felt like an unravelling of the thread.


But what do I know?


The preseason continues Sunday as the Chargers will travel to Minnesota to play the Vikings. The head coaches of the two winless clubs have colluded to play their starters in the meaningless game to better evaluate their rosters in the ramp-up to the start of the regular season.


Brandon Staley and Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell will put their friendship on hold for approximately three hours as both continue to develop certain player's snap counts, situational decision-making, and philosophical identities. Both men took their clubs to the postseason last year; both men lost their first playoff game in humbling fashion.


O'Connell added two players this week in an attempt to shore up the Vikings offensive line and underperforming run game. Cam Akers caught a plane from Los Angeles a few days earlier than the Chargers as he was traded from the Rams for conditional sixth and seventh-round picks in 2026. Akers and O'Connell were familiar with one another from O'Connell's time with the Rams as their offensive coordinator. The Vikings also signed guard Dalton Risner, a free agent formerly of the Denver Broncos.


In Los Angeles the Chargers have reshuffled their secondary as Staley continues to use the preseason to assess the defensive backs. Assante Samuel Jr. is no longer the starting nickelback. JaSir Taylor has taken over responsibilites at Staley's "star position," as they call it, while Samuel competes with J.C. Jackson and Michael Davis for playing time on the outside.


Staley assures that competition at the position will settle itself soon. The Chargers hope so as the team has struggled to limit opponent's explosive plays. The Miami Dolphins torched them for 466 passing yards before giving up completions of 70, and 49 yards to the Tennessee Titans in their last outing.


But that is what the preseason is for, isn't it? Working out the kinks and settling your roster.


What's that? The regular season started three weeks ago? Have you told the Chargers and the Vikings?

The clubs are a combined 0-4 and searching for answers (and relief) as the tensions mount and the angry villagers sharpen their gardening tools.

 

Bolt Bros Podcast

K​yle Sawyer (Season Record 0-2)

The "Broracle" reads the runes.


LOGUZ. Our journey has been perilous so far, and if we’re going to continue this path we will make our way to the underworld.


KENAZ. Though all is not lost, if we turn to the Football gods. We can find the inspiration we need to defeat the Vikings.


DAGAZ. We cannot think about our future, our focus is the here and now, only then we will find victory.

C​hargers 28 - 27 Vikings

 

Bolted Up Tailgaters

A​aron Vrabel (Season Record 0-2)

It's put up or shut up time. The Chargers have not won in Minneapolis in over two decades but if their defense can even statistically play an average game they can come away with the win.

I had this one marked as a loss before the season started and I am going to stick with that until proven otherwise.

Vikings 33 - Chargers 31

 

K​ea-Lava

K​ea Humilde (Season Record 0-2)

After watching the Netflix show “Quarterback” I can’t help but think that the Minnesota Vikings “noon nightmare,” Kirk Cousins is actually more of a daydream. Our Chargers may be winless but it is much too early in the season to be sleeping on them.

With 214 rushing yards in the season opener, over 50 points scored in the span of just two games and no turnovers, I’d argue that Justin Herbert will be the man to make our dreams come true.

Chargers 20 - Vikings 17

 

T​hunder Down Under Podcast

J​ack Reed (Season Record 0-2)

These are some of the categories that I used to break down who the Vikings are, strengths and weaknesses for the Chargers to defend and attack, and some interesting tidbits to watch throughout the game.


X-Factor - Justin Jefferson

Through two games his Average Depth of Target (ADOT) is 13.3 yards.

Already has 4 contested catches and over 150 receiving yards in both games.

He’s like a Madden cheat code; he catches everything that comes his way!

Without question, Jefferson will be productive, and if Tyreek Hill’s production in Week 1 is anything to go by, Jefferson will be heavily involved on Sunday.


Trojan Horse– Brian Flores Has Vikings Coverage Game on Point

Per Pro Football Focus, Vikings are tied for 4th best unit in coverage.

Camryn Bynum, Brian Asamoah, Jordan Hicks, Ivan Pace, Akayleb Evans are all playing well in the coverage game. Bynum is especially playing well after a down year in 2022.

If we think that Herbert is going to move the ball consistently and easily, think again. Flores is known to give Herbert hell (think back to the Dolphins game a few years ago). It will be interesting to see what Kellen Moore cooks up to fight through this seemingly hardened Vikings secondary.


I Love You, Man – Brian O’Neill RT

Quietly has become one of the best right tackles in the league and one of my favorites to watch weekly. O'Neill has quietly improved his performance each season.

0 Sacks, 0 Hits, 1 Hurry allowed through two games.

Though the offensive line has struggled to protect Kirk Cousins, the right side holds up relatively well.

Watch for Staley and Derrick Ansley to load up stunts and heavy pass rush packages on the left side—away from O’Neill.


Best Way to Attack – Run the ball.

This opinion will be unpopular because fans want to see a Herbert ‘uncorking’ game, but the goal should be to establish the run early against a poor run defense. Winning is done in the trenches, first and foremost.

No Austin Ekeler again means hopefully we see some downhill running from Josh Kelley AND Isaiah Spiller. The Eagles D'Andre Swift had a monster game against them last week (28 carries for 175 yards and a touchdown) so the Chargers should look to abuse a soft Vikings interior line.


Best Way to Defend – Know the passes are coming.

Some players you just can’t stop, Justin Jefferson is one of them. Kirk Cousins slings it—we KNOW this.

The Vikings are dead last in the NFL running the football (26 carries for 69 yards in two games) so the Chargers defensive linemen SHOULD be able to contain the running game Cam Akers has been in the building all of five minutes but is still an accomplished runner.

If Daiyan Henley is playing, he might get some quality pass coverage snaps in.

STOP giving up giant plays when we are playing quarters, Cover 6 schemes. These are designed as schemes that do NOT give up big passing plays, yet here we are.


Pigeonholed – This is the playoff against the two best ‘almost’ teams.

The media states these two teams are the ones that are neither dominant nor completely poor.

The Vikings and Chargers almost win their games, or always lose them.

Who will blink first under pressure? Two best friends as head coaches, one will come out the other side with some questions to answer and decisions to defend.

Could we see Kirk Cousins be traded to New York? Or we could see Staley coaching High School football in Costa Mesa? Vikings 34 - Chargers 28

 

Señor Salty

Mark White (Season Record 2-0)

I just have to say, it's not that hard to be the "burnt ex fan" these days. The Chargers have opened up the season in classic fashion, losing both games towards the end. How do you all stick with this? The season has barely begun and the injuries are already a factor: Austin Ekeler is out with an ankle issue; Joey Bosa is questionable with a hammy.


Will the defense pull together and keep the offense from having to score 62 points to win? Probably not. Vikings players have made history against the Chargers before, and Justin Jefferson is a prime candidate to do it again. I see the Vikings taking this one.


Someone should call Antonio Cromartie.

Vikings 34 - Chargers 14

 

The Greek Uncles in Chicago

A​bram Sexson and Panos Mamalis (Season Record 1-1)

We were both five when it happened. The village was in turmoil as Vassilia’s prized chickens kept disappearing. Some said it was a fox, others claimed hungry migrants, but everyone knew she had fallen victim to the evil eye.


The Xematiasma (warding off ceremony) jarred my nascent sensibilities; the strange incantation with Vassilia’s name, the drips of oil in the water to make the cross and the “Ftou. Ftou. Ftou.” spitting in the air. The chickens were saved and Vasillia’s legendary avgolemono (egg lemon soup) remained a fond childhood staple.

You are undoubtedly wondering, in this game of epic under-performers who is the Vassilia, who are the chickens, and what wonderful soup is coming together?


One may be tempted to say the Vikings and Chargers are almost perennially under the eye. Four fumbles for the Norsemen last week (one that was the cause of a 10 point swing) versus 2/14 on third down for the Bolts. Two for fourteen?! Even Body Odor Babis had better odds with the Swedish tourists in the summer of ‘87.


Let us not forget the inability to convert within the Titans 10-yard line at the end of regulation and the zero yards gained after winning the coin toss in overtime.


Coffee is for closers and there ain't no espresso machine in the Chargers locker room. The Vikings were much better than the score suggested against the Eagles. It’s early, but Cousins is second in the league so far in passing yards, First in touchdown passes, second in passer rating, third in completion percentage and sixth in QBR.


We are expecting a shootout with the Vikings subpar secondary and Chargers defensive talent underperforming but look for the Bolts curse to continue for another week. Maybe Captain Kirk can bring back the stache' and forgo the postgame prayer for a pregame exorcism. Perhaps a coordinator sacrifice to the football gods is needed to ward off the evil eye. Vikings 27 - Chargers 24

 

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Danik Thomas
Danik Thomas
Sep 24, 2023

Bend but don't break. Well, sometimes. But this Ragnarok of a defense showed up when they absolutely had to. (Finally!) My gawd, can these guys build a defensive identity from here?! Please, oh please learn how to stop the run, and perhaps we can go somewhere into the playoffs this season! Is that too much to ask for? And don't get me started about our anemic running game on the offense when Austin is out!

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One fun fact as a Vikings fan stumbling on to this post. This will be the 6th unique stadium in a row that these teams will have played in. This has no precedent, am I right? 2007: Metrodome

2011: Qualcomm or was it SDCCU?

2015: TCF Bank Stadium

2019: StubHub

2021: SoFi

2023: US Bank Stadium

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