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Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Chargers: Key information and first quarter discussion

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It’s nearly time to get things started

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

We are less than an hour away from kickoff at Dignity Health Sports Park, ladies and gentlemen, as the Los Angeles Chargers are hosting your Minnesota Vikings in Week 15 NFL action. We’re getting down to the end of the season, and the Vikings still hold the #6 spot on the NFC playoff field heading into these last three weeks. If they win out, they make the playoffs and have a shot at winning the NFC North. If they lose. . .well, things get a bit tenuous.

Here’s everything you need to know about today’s game.

Date and Time: Sunday, 15 December 2019, 3:05 PM Central time

Location: Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, California

Television Coverage: WCCO-4 in the Twin Cities, CBS affiliates around the country, DirecTV Ch 713

Radio Coverage: Vikings Radio Network, Sirius Channel 135, XM Channel 382, SiriusXM App Channel 819

Line: Vikings -2.5, Over/Under 45.5

Chris’ Prediction: Vikings 27, Chargers 21

Three Keys:

1) Be smart with the football - One of the biggest differences between these two teams is the rate at which they turn over the football. The Vikings are at +5 in the giveaway/takeaway ratio this season (20 takeaways, 15 giveaways), while the Chargers are near the bottom of the league at -10 (12 takeaways, 22 giveaways). Philip Rivers has also thrown 15 interceptions this year, compared to just four for Kirk Cousins. The Chargers are a talented team, and the Vikings don’t need to be giving them extra chances. If the Vikings can prevent turnovers, they have a very good chance if winning this game.

2) Keep balanced on offense - Yes, the return of Adam Thielen is potentially huge for this Vikings’ offense. However, the Chargers’ pass defense is #4 in the NFL in terms of yardage allowed, and have a pair of talented edge rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Their run defense is not quite as stout, and that means that the Vikings will likely have to lean on Dalvin Cook (and Mike Boone, stepping in for the injured Alexander Mattison) to help soften things up a bit and get the Vikings’ deadly play-action game working.

3) Play a full 60 minutes - Yes, it’s a cliche, but we’ve seen this team get off to slow starts on several occasions this year, and the Chargers have enough talent on offense to make the Vikings pay if they do so again. On top of that, it seems like every Chargers game comes down to Philip Rivers having the ball down by more than a field goal at the end of the game with no timeouts and a chance to win. If that happens, the Vikings need to be able to shut that down.

Know the Foe: Bolts from the Blue

Twitter: Right here, @DailyNorseman

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We’ll have a brand new Open Thread for you at the start of each quarter, folks. Rob will be taking care of those today, as by the time you read this I should be getting settled into my seat at Dignity Health Sports Park to take in this game in person. So, make sure to follow him to the new thread at the start of each quarter.

Enjoy the game, ladies and gentlemen, and let’s meet up back here in about three hours to celebrate the Vikings moving to 10-4 and one step closer to a return to the postseason, shall we?

SKOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL VIKINGS!!!!