Week 3 Is a Classic “Loser Leaves Town Match” Between the Chargers and Vikings

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) leaves the field after the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to the Monday Night Football slate for Week 2, there are eight 0-2 teams in the NFL.

25% of those teams will meet at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday as the Minnesota Vikings take on the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 3.

Both teams are in very similar situations, sitting in divisions led by a pair of 1-1 teams, so there is time for them to get back into the race. However, with difficult schedules remaining for the rest of the year, this feels very much like a classic “loser leaves town match”.

In Week 3, Desperation Meets Desperation at U.S. Bank Stadium

Week 3
Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during warmups against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

A “loser leaves town match” is exactly what it sounds like. The term originated in the WWE where essentially, the loser of the match would never wrestle again. It has been transferred to other sports in recent years, and it insinuates that the loser of a game will miss out on the playoffs that year.

With both the Chargers and Vikings sitting at 0-2, the loser of this game will be 0-3 to begin the year. Since the 1970 merger, there have been 245 teams to begin a season 0-3, per Stathead. Only seven of these teams have made the playoffs, or 2.8%. Those teams are:

  • 1970 Oakland Raiders
  • 1981 New York Jets
  • 1982 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • 1992 San Diego Chargers
  • 1995 Detroit Lions
  • 1998 Buffalo Bills
  • 2018 Houston Texans
Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) warms up before the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Both the Chargers and Vikings have lost their games in very similar fashion. The Vikings have lost their two games by a combined nine points while the Chargers have lost by a combined five points. Their offenses have moved the ball well (each rank among the top 10 in total offense), but blunders have led to their downfalls through the first two weeks.

For Minnesota, the blunders have largely involved silly turnovers. Their 7 turnovers through two weeks are the most in the NFL (again, prior to the Monday night slate), and in LA, the problems have revolved around offensive execution at the end of the game. The Chargers had opportunities to drive the field and win each of their games, but they could not get it done.

Sep 17, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) attempts a pass as he is pressured by Tennessee Titans defensive end Denico Autry (96) and defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons (98) in overtime at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Neither team can afford to let these blunders get the better of them this weekend. This is especially so considering the strength of schedule for the remainder of the season. Following Week 3, here are the next six games that the Vikings will play:

  • Week 4 at Carolina
  • Week 5 vs. Kansas City
  • Week 6 at Chicago
  • Week 7 vs. San Francisco
  • Week 8 at Green Bay
  • Week 9 at Atlanta

Two of these teams are currently 2-0, another features Patrick Mahomes, and two more are divisional games. There is no hiding for Minnesota over the next couple months. Meanwhile, the Chargers will play:

  • Week 4 vs. Las Vegas
  • Week 5 Bye
  • Week 6 vs. Dallas
  • Week 7 at Kansas City
  • Week 8 vs. Chicago
  • Week 9 at NY Jets

This is a touch easier of a schedule for Los Angeles, but they do have the Cowboys and Chiefs on deck. Both games could easily be two more losses on the Chargers record that they cannot afford if they start 0-3.

Regardless, expect both teams to come out as if this is a “must-win” game on Sunday. Hopefully, the Vikings will be able to prevail and avoid their eighth 0-3 start in franchise history.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.