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Bridgewater, Vikings beat Chargers 23-10 in stadium opener

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Teddy Bridgewater was sharp in his return from a sore shoulder, completing 12 of 16 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown in the first half for the Minnesota Vikings in a 23-10 exhibition victory Sunday over the San Diego Chargers in the official unveiling their new stadium.

After sitting out last week at Seattle, Bridgewater found Kyle Rudolph for a 27-yard score and led the Vikings to points on three of five possessions. Bridgewater even put a slick juke on strong safety Adrian Phillips to further a 22-yard run that set up one of three short field goals by Blair Walsh.

Melvin Gordon, aiming to rebound from a rough rookie season, cruised through the middle of Minnesota’s starting defense for a 39-yard touchdown run. San Diego lost running back Branden Oliver, though, to an Achilles tendon injury on his right leg that required a cart to take him off. Oliver is the primary kickoff returner and a contributing backup behind Gordon and Danny Woodhead.

With sunlight streaming in from the floor-to-ceiling glass on the west side and through the translucent, space-age roof, the Vikings enjoyed a gleaming debut for U.S. Bank Stadium. The sold-out crowd of 66,143 was the largest at home in franchise history.

The Chargers undoubtedly felt some envy, with their decade-and-a-half quest to replace 49-year-old Qualcomm Stadium still unfulfilled and a move to Los Angeles still a possibility. This game was conveniently scheduled for national broadcast on Fox, in case folks in San Diego were still on the fence about public funding.

Philip Rivers went 5 for 9 for 54 yards and an interception, one of three by the Vikings. Rookies Jayron Kearse and Mackensie Alexander picked off Chargers third-stringer Mike Bercovici, who’s competing with Zach Mettenberger for a roster spot.

Bercovici threw three straight passes into the end zone in the fourth quarter that the Vikings had their hands on, the last one finally intercepted by second-round draft pick Alexander.

With Adrian Peterson resting on the sideline, backup Jerick McKinnon rushed eight times for 56 yards. Stefon Diggs caught five passes for 71 yards, all in the first half. Cordarrelle Patterson recovered MyCole Pruitt‘s fumble, one of two lost by the Vikings, in the end zone for a touchdown.

ROOKIE WATCH

Chargers: Sixth-round draft pick Drew Kaser dropped three punts inside the 10-yard line.

Vikings: WR Laquon Treadwell made a tricky catch on a fade route in the corner of the end zone on a 2-point conversion pass from Shaun Hill.

POSITION BATTLES

Chargers: DE Darius Philon had a sack in the first half, continuing a decent training camp in place of holdout rookie Joey Bosa. With Bosa unsigned in a public dispute over his contract, DT Damion Square suspended for the first four games for an NFL substance abuse policy violation and DT Sean Lissemore (shoulder) out for the season, the Chargers need Philon to help stabilize a depleted front.

Vikings: Joe Berger played the whole first half with the first team at center over John Sullivan, who missed last season with a back injury and has not been assured of getting back his job. Berger, entering his 12th NFL season, is also the primary backup at both guard spots.

INJURY UPDATE

Chargers: Beside Oliver, RT Joe Barksdale also came out of the game in the first half, limping off with a left ankle injury.

Vikings: Backup safety Antone Exum, hurt playing on the kickoff return team, left on a cart for X-rays on his leg.

Online:

AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL coverage on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Social media reacts to Rams relocation to L.A.

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After 20 years in St. Louis, the Rams are officially headed back to Los Angeles.

The news was understandably met by a variety of reactions across social media, starting with the opinions of current Rams players:

Some former St. Louis and Los Angeles Rams players didn’t miss out on the opportunity to chime in either:

Even players who have never had any connection to the Rams but have played in Los Angeles as college quarterbacks at USC got into the mix:

The impact of the relocation wasn’t lost on backup quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, Chase Daniel:

Follow @Keenan_Slusher on Twitter

Jets among favorites for final week of NFL season

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The New York Jets can clinch their first playoff berth since 2010 with a win on Sunday when they visit the Buffalo Bills as 3-point betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Jets claimed sole possession of the second AFC Wild Card over the weekend with a 26-20 overtime victory against the New England Patriots, picking up the outright win as 2.5-point underdogs to improve their straight-up record to 10-5; they’re one game up on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

New York now rides a five-game SU win streak into Sunday afternoon’s Jets vs. Bills betting matchup at Ralph Wilson Stadium, including a pair of road victories, and has consistently rewarded bettors by going 4-0-1 against the spread during its current tear.

The Jets face a Bills squad that continues to battle the inconsistency that has plagued them all season. Buffalo is just 2-4 SU in its last six games, 2-3-1 ATS. However, both those wins came on home turf.

The Bills have also owned New York in recent meetings, posting SU and ATS wins in each of their last four overall, including a 22-17 victory at MetLife Stadium in Week 10, and are undefeated, SU and ATS, in their last three home dates with the Jets according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

That’s good news for the 9-6 Steelers, who visit the Cleveland Browns on Sunday as heavy 9.5-point chalk.

Pittsburgh is coming off a stunning 20-17 loss to Baltimore last weekend, which dropped them out of the AFC playoff picture. However, a Steelers win combined with a Jets loss in Buffalo would hand the second AFC Wild Card to Pittsburgh on tiebreakers.

The Steelers’ loss to Baltimore ended a three-game SU win streak and dropped them to 1-3 SU in their past four games on the road.

The Browns have been simply awful since their somewhat promising 2-3 start, losing SU in nine of their last 10 outings, and five of their last six home games, averaging just 14.1 points per game over their last seven outings.

In other NFL Week 17 betting action, the playoff-bound Kansas City Chiefs will be gunning for a 10th straight SU win when they host the Oakland Raiders as 6.5-point favorites. The 10-5 Chiefs have clinched an AFC Wild Card but can still capture the AFC West crown with a win combined with a Denver loss.

Fresh off their 20-17 comeback victory over Cincinnati, the Broncos are 9.5-point favorites in their regular-season finale against the San Diego Chargers, while the Bengals play host to the Ravens as 9-point chalk.