(CBSLA)- To say that the 2019 season has been a disappointing affair for the Chargers would be an understatement. Entering the season, there were high expectations for the team, but injuries, close losses and inconsistent play sees them enter Week 15 eliminated from playoff contention.
In these types of situations, NFL on CBS analyst and former NFL quarterback Trent Green says it can be difficult to keep the team focused on the weekly goal.
“That is always the challenging part as a veteran player and the starter is to keep everybody focused on the task at hand. That is ultimately winning the rest of their games. They still have the opportunity to finish with a non-losing season,” said Green. “If they win all three of their games, they could finish 8-8. It’s one of those little motivation things you can say as a player. I have been on teams like that where it is like, what do we have to play for? Well, if you’re a young guy, you’re playing for your job. And, if you’re an old guy trying to keep your job, you’re playing for your job.”
Luckily for the Chargers, they got a spark of energy from the return of safety Derwin James and they still have the fiery Philip Rivers starting at quarterback. The team’s desire was on full display last week in a 45-10 rout of the Jacksonville Jaguars. This week, there’s the added benefit of potentially playing spoiler for a Vikings team that is clinging to the final Wild Card spot in the NFC.
A win in this game would go a long way for the Vikings playoff hopes while a loss would put them in some trouble. How can the Chargers play the spoiler role? According to Green, it has to start with slowing the Vikings running game and third-year back Dalvin Cook.
“It (the Vikings offense) runs through Dalvin Cook and the run game and that is when they get their opportunities to take some shots. The main key for the Chargers will be trying to shut down Dalvin Cook and making it a one-dimensional type game,” said Green. “If you do make it one-dimensional with Bosa and Ingram coming off the edges, it presents a problem.”
The Chargers pass rush hasn’t been as effective as years past, but they have put together 27 sacks over the course of their 14 games and they picked up two last week against Jacksonville. The Minnesota offensive line has been solid this season allowing just 23 sacks (7th fewest) and 57 quarterback hits (5th fewest). That will be a fascinating matchup to watch Sunday as the combination of Ingram and Bosa look to attack Cousins.
On the other side of the ball? The Chargers offense has struggled to find consistency, with Rivers at times throwing back-breaking interceptions late in games. But, the veteran QB was strong last week throwing for 314 yards and three scores. But, the Vikings pass defense has been solid this season and defensive end Danielle Hunter has been a menace off the edge.
The Chargers enter the matchup as two point underdogs in front of their home fans. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Pacific Time on CBS.