In the NFL arms race, the Vikings and Chargers are eager to keep pace. Both Minnesota and San Diego sit at 1-1 so far this season, a game behind Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and their respective teams, the Packers and Broncos.
Thus, there's already a bit of pressure on the signal-callers for Minnesota and San Diego, heading into their matchup at noon Sunday in Minneapolis. Chargers star Philip Rivers has been sharp so far this season, averaging 322.5 passing yards per game. Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has been a bit more erratic, averaging just 192 yards per game through the air, while largely turning to short, safe throws.
This Sunday's Week 3 matchup will offer Minnesota's second-year signal-caller another chance to prove he can ascend to the upper echelon of NFL passers.
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Let's take a closer look at this Sunday's showdown at TCF Bank Stadium, in which the Vikings are favored by 2.5 points and both teams are saddled with ailing offensive lines.
3 THINGS TO WATCH
-- Can Bridgewater keep pace with Rivers? So far during the young 2015 season, San Diego's overall offense ranks No. 3 in the NFL; Minnesota's is ranked 29th. The Chargers and Rivers boast the fourth-best passing offense in the league, while Bridgewater and the Vikings' aerial attack ranks dead last in the NFL, though Bridgewater was efficient in Week 2, going 14 for 18 for 153 yards and one score -- good for a solid, 120.6 passer rating.
-- Third-down conversion attempts. San Diego has been solid on third down so far this season, converting on 10 of 22 third-down attempts (45.5 percent). The Vikings were atrocious on third-down in their Week 1 loss at San Francisco, converting just 1 of 9 attempts on that down before going a much more respectable 7 of 14 on third downs in Week 2. If Bridgewater wants to prove himself to be a valuable asset, there's no better time to do so than on third down -- the so-called "money down."
-- Can Adrian Peterson solve his fumbling issue? The Vikings star has had well-documented problems with fumbling in the past. He has 33 fumbles in a pro career that stretches back to 2007, including a combined 16 fumbles over the course of the 2008 and 2009 campaigns. Peterson coughed the ball up three times last week against Detroit (two times officially, due to one Detroit penalty that negated a fumble). The Vikings can't survive many games in which Peterson fumbles multiple times.
2 THINGS TO REMEMBER
-- You can never count Rivers out of any game, virtually regardless of the circumstances. Rivers rallied San Diego to a win over Detroit in Week 1 this season after the Chargers had trailed by 18 points early. Rivers' last game against the Vikings also exemplifies the Chargers star's resiliency; In Week 1 in 2011, Rivers passed for 335 yards to help San Diego overcome an early 17-7 deficit to Minnesota in an eventual 24-17 Chargers victory. And Rivers has lots of options in the passing game; the Chargers are the only team with four players already in double digits in catches (Keenan Allen 17, Stevie Johnson 11, Ladarius Green 10, Danny Woodhead 10).
-- Peterson still haunts San Diego. Not many current Chargers were even in the NFL back in 2007, but the specter of "All Day's" historic afternoon on Nov. 4 that season still looms over this matchup. On that aforementioned day, in a 35-17 Vikings victory, Peterson ran wild, setting an NFL single-game record with 296 rushing yards on 30 carries. You just know Peterson would love to outdo himself in this week's showdown.
1 KEY MATCHUP
Vikings secondary vs. Rivers
Rivers, now 33 years old, is largely unflappable at this point in his career -- though, with a 6-foot-5, 228-pound frame, he isn't a very mobile passer. The Vikings hit Detroit's Matthew Stafford eight times last Sunday but recorded just one sack. Minnesota's pass rush will likely need more success this week if the Vikings are to slow San Diego's potent offense. Rivers has been sacked six times this season, so opportunities should present themselves to Vikings pass rushers like Everson Griffen and Brian Robison.
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