San Diego Chargers (1-1) at Minnesota Vikings (1-1)
Not a lot of people are talking about the Chargers, but they have a good team. A borderline playoff team in 2013 and 2014, the Chargers’ secondary is significantly better than it was in 2013 thanks to the additions of Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett, while their offense is significantly healthier than it was in 2014, when they led the league in offensive adjusted games lost to injury. They’re only 1-1, but they’ve played two playoff caliber opponents, Cincinnati and Detroit.
Minnesota has also played Detroit, but lost in embarrassing fashion week 1 in San Francisco. Both of these teams have beaten Detroit on their homefield, but San Diego’s victory was more impressive. The Chargers moved the chains at an 8.97% better rate than the Lions did in their victory, while Minnesota moved the chains at a 3.69% better rate than the Lions in their victory. On top of that, Minnesota was also playing a very injured Matt Stafford, which made their life easier. The Chargers have also done a much better job in that aspect overall on the season than the Vikings, as they rank 12th in rate of moving the chains differential, while the Vikings rank 23rd.
I know it’s only been two games, but that was the case in 2014 as well, when the Chargers finished 13th and the Vikings finished 27th. The Vikings are an improved team from last year to this year, with Adrian Peterson back and Teddy Bridgewater going into his second year, but they’re very banged up on the offensive line and they’re still not as good as the Chargers, who are also improved from last season, thanks to players returning from injury. This line does give the Chargers the nod as being the better team, as it’s 2.5 in favor of Minnesota at home and not 3 and I certainly would prefer it at 3, but I still think we’re getting line value with the Chargers. This line should be around even.
The Chargers are also in a great spot, coming off of a close road loss to the Bengals. Teams are 117-81 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 96-55 ATS when it’s their 2nd of 2 road games. Historically, teams cover at about a 65% rate in that situation. This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 197-200 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.25 points per game, as opposed to 282-395 straight up in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 3.03 points per game.
In addition to being in a great spot because of their game last week, the Chargers are also in a great spot because their game next week, as they have no upcoming distractions, with only a home game against the irrelevant Browns on deck. Minnesota, meanwhile, has to go to Denver and play one of the toughest games of their season next week. Road underdogs are 104-61 ATS since 2008 before being home favorites when their opponent will next be a home favorite. I had a tough time picking my Pick of the Week this week and I weighed a few good options, but I ultimately settled on the Chargers. I like them a good amount here in Minnesota.
San Diego Chargers 24 Minnesota Vikings 20 Upset Pick +110
Pick against the spread: San Diego -2.5
Confidence: Pick of the Week