5 Bold Predictions: Vikings vs. Chargers – Week 15

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Kyle Rudolph
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Kyle Rudolph /
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(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) Adam Thielen
(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) Adam Thielen /

Thielen’s return will spark the offense

One of the biggest storylines heading into Sunday’s game is the return of Pro Bowl wideout Adam Thielen. The Vikings’ top target injured his hamstring in a win over the Detroit Lions in Week 7 and after trying to ramp it up two weeks later, he has been on the mend before recently getting in a full week of practice leading into Sunday, resulting in no mention on the team’s injury report.

Minnesota has done a solid job without Thielen, but they haven’t been able to see the same success they were having prior to the injury.

In the first seven games of the year, the Vikings averaged 27.4 points per game and 391 yards of total offense. But these numbers have dipped to 21 points and 305 yards per game since Thielen went down.

These numbers haven’t just affected Minnesota’s passing attack (although Kirk Cousins has continued to play at an elite level), but the rushing attack has suffered as well. Dalvin Cook hasn’t rushed for over 100 yards since Thielen went down and his yards per carry went from 5.4 with Thielen in the lineup to 3.5 without him.

The Vikings have done fine without Thielen, but they’re going to welcome him back with open arms. With him able to draw more attention from the Chargers’ defense, everyone should benefit and it should lead to a big performance from Minnesota’s offense.