Stopping the Skid

With the Vikings saddled with a two-game losing streak and two West Coast trips on the horizon, mixing things up has become a focal point of this week's practices.

You can see the irritability in Mike Tice. He's not a happy guy and it shows. His Vikings, after being part of nearly every football-related TV and radio show and print outlet, have lost two straight games and are facing two games in the next two weeks on the West Coast.

The result? Tice is changing things up. He's removed at least one starter and told several others their roles will be changing. He's cut a lot of things out of the playbook for more of a KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid) offense and defense, and has harped a lot more on accountability to his players.

Will it work? Only time will tell, but the best thing the Vikings have going as they try to pull out of this tailspin is the schedule. In the next three weeks, the Vikings player the Chargers, Raiders and Lions -- three teams with a combined record of 5-19. If that doesn't stop a skid what will?

* Of those five combined wins for the next three opponents, two of those came in games they played against each other.
* Bryant McKinnie took part in about half of Thursday's practice. If he can go full out today, he has not been ruled out as starting Sunday.
* Marty Schottenheimer is trying to keep the Vikings guessing as to who his starting QB will be -- Drew Brees or Doug Flutie. Flash to Marty -- they both stink.
* Lance Johnstone has 5-1/2 sacks in the last six games.
* The last time the Vikings played the Chargers it was a shootout. The Vikings won 35-27 in 1999 at the Metrodome when Jeff George threw for 363 yards and four touchdowns. In the losing effort, Chargers QB Jim Harbaugh threw for 404 yards.
* The Vikings and Chargers are 4-4 all-time in their series and history would favor the Chargers. Neither team has ever won two straight games in the eight games of the series.
* The Vikings are 3-0 on the road, while the Chargers are 0-3 at home.

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