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Vikings, Chargers lead league with only 12 sacks given up through Week 12

Philip Rivers, Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers and the Minnesota Vikings are among the surprise teams this season. Although the Chargers are just 5-6, they have won four of their last six to get back into contention for the AFC West division title. The 9-2 Vikings, on the other hand, are glued to the top spot in the NFC North division despite losing their opening day starters at the quarterback and the running back positions.

How are both these teams having success? There are plenty of reasons, but among them is their respective offensive lines. Just consider this: through the first 12 weeks of the season, the Chargers and the Vikings have each allowed just 12 total sacks (via Reddit’s doughtyc).

The Chargers prioritized fixing their offensive line during the offseason after quarterback Philip Rivers was sacked 36 times in 2016. The team signed former Denver Broncos offensive tackle Russell Okung to a four-year contract last March and spent two of their first three picks in this year’s draft by getting a pair of guards in Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney. Chargers general manager Tom Telesco seemed to have pulled the right strings, as the team is maximizing Rivers, who is leading Los Angeles’ passing offense that ranks fourth in the NFL right now with 263.9 yards per game.

Like the Chargers, Minnesota gave up a ton of sacks last season with 38. As with most teams where Sam Bradford is playing, protecting the brittle quarterback has always been high on the list. Bradford was lost for the season after just two games, but the Vikings’ sturdy offensive line continues to flourish, only it’s Case Keenum who is now enjoying throwing behind it.

One noticeable adjustment the Vikings made in the offseason was to shift center Joe Berger and Nick Easton to guard positions, opening a hole at the center position that was then eventually filled when they drafted Pat Elflein in the third round. Minnesota also hooked up with Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers to serve as the team’s left and right tackles, respectively. Positive results are being felt these days by the Vikings due to the repair they did in their o-line, as they are fifth in total yards per game with 375.7.