Vikings vs. Chargers Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions: No One Wants to Bet on Philip Rivers & Co.

Vikings vs. Chargers Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions: No One Wants to Bet on Philip Rivers & Co. article feature image

USA Today Sports. Pictured: Dalvin Cook

  • The Minnesota Vikings are a popular bet on Sunday, as they're small road favorites against the Los Angeles Chargers.
  • The updated betting odds have the Vikings has 1.5-point favorites with the over/under at 46.
  • Are the Vikings being overvalued by the betting market? Our experts analyzed the latest odds and make their picks for this late-afternoon matchup.

Vikings at Chargers Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Vikings -1.5
  • Over/Under: 46
  • Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

Odds as of Thursday evening and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.

The Los Angeles Chargers host the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday, but the public isn’t shying away from fading the 3-point home underdogs — more than 75% of tickets and money are backing Kirk Cousins and Co. on the road as of Thursday evening.

But do our experts agree with the public? They preview this game, featuring the most important matchups and their spread picks.

Vikings-Chargers Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Chargers

The Chargers have just two players on their injury report: Mike Williams (knee) and linebacker Uchenna Nwosu (ankle). Williams has been limited most weeks with his knee injury, but hasn’t missed any time. Nwosu was still limited in practice, suggesting he’s trending toward playing.

Adam Thielen (hamstring) has returned to practice, and the Vikings appear to be optimistic that it’s finally the time for him to return. It’s also worth noting that Dalvin Cook (chest) was listed as a full participant on Wednesday, while Alexander Mattison (ankle) hasn’t practiced Wednesday or Thursday. Justin Bailey

Note: Info as of Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.

Biggest Mismatch

Chargers Passing Offense vs. Vikings Pass Defense

Philip Rivers is always a tough matchup late in the season, regardless of the Chargers playoff status. For example, he produced his best performance of 2019 in a meaningless game at Jacksonville last week, finishing as the overall QB7 with 314 passing yards and three touchdowns.

The Vikings, meanwhile, ranks seventh overall in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA but have been susceptible through the air. They’ve allowed the eighth-most passing yards to opposing wideouts, and cornerback Xavier Rhodes has failed to match his prior year production. He’s Pro Football Focus’ 111th-ranked cornerback and has routinely struggled on deep pass plays. Per Player Profiler, Rhodes ranks 75th in coverage rating

Williams has produced all season despite only catching his first touchdown last week. He ranks first among all wide receivers in both yards per reception (21.1) and average target distance (17.1). Keenan Allen also dominates the short to intermediates routes ranking fourth with 81 receptions and third with 12 red-zone receptions.

Keenan Allen-Mike Williams
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams

And while Minnesota’s run defense is tough, they have allowed the fifth-most touchdowns to opposing running backs. Both Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler provide Rivers will exceptional options that the Vikings will have to limit. Mike Randle

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Chargers -1.5
  • Projected Total: 45

I almost don’t know where to begin with this one.

Sportsbooks don’t set lines as a way to predict how games will end — their main goal is to divide the action evenly. And it just so happens that having a market where millions of dollars helps set where the line ultimately closes creates an extremely accurate forecast for NFL games.

The public has become increasingly sharp over the years as access to data and timely news is more readily available than ever. It makes the market incredibly sharp, in general, and tough to beat.

This is a rare game in which the wrong team is favored. The market has demanded that it be.

The Vikings opened as 2.5-point road favorites, which has been pummeled by 82% of the tickets and 86% of the money as of writing (see live public betting data here). So why hasn’t the line gone up to the key number of -3? Sharp money — I can almost guarantee you that books have either already received sharp money or know they’ll get sharp action at 3, so the line has been frozen.

The Chargers have been one of the unluckiest teams this season. They have a +2.8 edge in Pythagorean win differential over the Vikings, which is largely due to a 2-8 record in one-score games.

The Chargers also happen to be one of the unluckiest teams in fumble recoveries while the Vikings have been one of the luckiest. It comes out to a +6.7 edge in fumble luck for the Chargers — another signal that identifies hidden value on a team moving forward.

The Chargers’ pass defense has been lethal, allowing fewer than 185 yards passing to seven of their past 10 opponents. Stud safety Derwin James returned from injured reserve two games ago, which only improved their stout defense. The Vikings rely heavily on Cook and Mattison, but each are likely to be less than 100% as they’re dealing with injuries.

The Chargers are going to be my play of the year, but I’ll want to see if the market can push it up to +3 before pulling the trigger. You might have to act fast if it does, though, with all signs pointing to sharps not allowing that number to be available for long. Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

Matthew Freedman: Vikings -2.5

I’m gonna disagree with Sean here and take the Vikings based on a couple key trends.

Under Mike Zimmer (since 2014), the Vikings have had all sorts of regular-season against-the-spread edges.

  • As favorites: 35-18-1 | 28.3% ROI
  • Outside of division: 41-17-1 | 37% ROI

These trends make sense within the context of who Zimmer is as a coach and what kind of team the Vikings are.

Zimmer is a focused, no-nonsense, risk-adverse, process-oriented, defense-directed “manager” (for lack of a better word), and the Vikings are a disciplined team that doesn’t often make big mistakes.

They don’t play down to the level of their underdog opponents. They don’t present a known and easy challenge to teams that aren’t familiar with them.

And this week, two of Zimmer’s historical edges line up.

As non-divisional favorites, the Vikings are 24-8-1 ATS (45.1% ROI).

Freedman is 508-383-21 (57%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

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