The Vikings have played four preseason games this year and have not lost one of them. The Titans are unsurprisingly going through growing pains as they try to guide their top draft pick and franchise quarterback of the future through his first preseason and prepare him for the regular season.
Will anything about these teams’ situations change with the arrival of the fourth? Minnesota might downshift and Tennessee might rise. Let’s see what happens.
What We Know About The Coaches
Mike Zimmer of the Minnesota Vikings is 8-0 in the preseason and 4-0 this year after his team easily handled Dallas last week. The Vikings have been operating really well, but they wish that these results could carry over to the regular season. A 4-0 preseason in 2014 didn't even led to a winning regular season.
Ken Whisenhunt of the Tennessee Titans is 11-21 in the preseason and 1-2 this year, following a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last week. Whisenhunt’s coaching is really not at issue here; he is hamstrung by the fact that he is coaching a rookie quarterback through his first season, as you’ll read below. This is an even coaching matchup.
Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater completed 100 percent of his passes last week against the Dallas Cowboys. He continued to look very sharp, and because of that, he’s not likely to get too much work, if any, in this game coming up against Tennessee. The Vikings need to know what their number two quarterback can bring to the table, and in this case, that means Taylor Heinicke and Shaun Hill. Heinecke was encouragingly strong against Dallas, completing all 11 of his passes and guiding the offense crisply. Hill was a decent 6 of 8, but he did throw an interception.
For the Titans, it’s a different story. Starter Marcus Mariota struggled in the first quarter of last week’s game in Kansas City. He developed a little more confidence in the second quarter and led his team on a scoring drive, but he still felt behind the curve against a first-string defense. Zach Mettenberger was just 3 of 11 passing for Tennessee last week against the Chiefs. The Titans need to get work from Mariota, so he’s not going to be held out of this game the way veteran starting quarterbacks are in fourth (and final) preseason game of the season. However, Tennessee does need to see more from Mettenberger, who should play most if not all of the second half.
Overall, Minnesota is getting more from its quarterbacks than Tennessee is, but Bridgewater should not see much action here, so the balance really evens out. Tennessee might benefit when Shaun Hill enters this game later on in the second half. The rookie angle with Mariota, plus Mettenberger’s struggles, give this category to Minnesota.
Team Depth & Rotations
Vikings punter Jeff Locke writhed in pain after getting hit by a teammate on a punt. Placekicker Blair Walsh had to substitute for him as a punter. The
The Titans will be without safety Da’Norris Searcy, who left last week’s preseason game with a knee injury in the first half. Previously injured defensive tackle Sammie Hill, cornerback Jason McCourty, and defensive end DaQuan Jones are not likely to play, but if their conditions are vastly improved, they might get one series just to test themselves before the regular season.
Bishop Sankey rushed 6 times for 17 yards last week, and the Titans struggled to establish their running game. Tennessee is simply struggling so much that the Vikings have to get the edge here.
Outlook & Pick
It’s not that the Vikings are 4-0 in the preseason. It’s that Tennessee has a rookie starting quarterback and a bad backup quarterback. That’s never a recipe for success against the NFL odds. Take Minnesota with your NFL picks.
NFL Pick: Vikings +2 at bet365