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What To Watch For Against The Tennessee Titans

Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

"It's far easier to write why something is terrible than why it's good. If you're reviewing a film and you decide 'this is a movie I don't like,' basically you can take every element of the film and find the obvious flaw, or argue that it seems ridiculous, or like a parody of itself, or that it's not as good as something similar that was done in a previous film. What's hard to do is describe why you like something."

-Chuck Klosterman

You would think that, with a team that has already exceeded the expectations of most of the "experts" out there and a core of exciting young talent, it would be pretty easy to crank out interesting stories about the Minnesota Vikings. However, due to a combination of real world stuff getting in the way and outright fatigue, yours truly has not gotten a whole lot down on the ol' site here for a couple of days. I apologize for that, but everyone else has done a pretty fine job of picking up the slack.

The Minnesota Vikings find themselves in a bit of a unique situation going into their Week Five match-up against the Tennessee Titans at the Metrodome. For the first time in this 2012 season, the Vikings will be going into a game that they're honest-to-goodness expected to win. Sure, they might have been favored to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week One, but most folks really viewed that as more of a toss-up. They were underdogs going into Week Two against the Indianapolis Colts, and significant underdogs against both the San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit Lions.

But a quarter of the way into the season, the Vikings appear to be a significantly better team than Tennessee. The Titans have the worst point differential in the NFL, having allowed a whopping seventy more points than they've scored during their first four games. Their one victory thus far, a 44-41 overtime shootout against the Lions, required them to score five touchdowns of sixty yards or more (including a 105-yard kickoff return by former Viking Darius Reynaud). In their other three contests, they've been outscored by 21, 28, and 24 points. Add to that the fact that their young quarterback, Jake Locker, has been ruled out of the game with an injury, and on the surface it looks kind of bleak for Mike Munchak's team.

That sort of mindset is the sort of thing that the Minnesota Vikings absolutely need to avoid.

Yes, the Minnesota Vikings are currently 3-1, and are playing at least above average in all three phases of the game. This team needs to keep the same focus that has allowed them to be one last-second drive in Indianapolis away from potentially being 4-0. Even though this team is 3-1, they still can't afford to be looking past teams and going out thinking they can lay off the gas and still win. Heck, over the past few days, I've heard that the reason the Vikings beat the 49ers and the Lions is that those teams "overlooked" the Vikings.

Because, you know, it certainly can't be that the Minnesota Vikings are just a teeny, tiny little bit better than the group that every "expert" in America left for dead right around mid-May or anything. Certainly not.

That's the sort of attitude the Vikings need to maintain for the next few weeks. They have six games before their bye week and, on paper, they're all winnable football games. But the Minnesota Vikings can't allow themselves to believe that. They need to keep the edge and the physicality that has gotten them off to their 3-1 start. They can't start buying into the press clippings that have started coming their directions in the first quarter of the season.

Yes, the Tennessee Titans have been a bad team thus far in 2012, particularly on defense. . .they're in the bottom quarter of the league in pretty much every major defensive category, including giving up a league-worst 37.5 points/game through their first four. But the Minnesota Vikings have to treat them with every bit of the respect that they showed the 49ers when they matched up in Week Three. Christian Ponder needs to continue being intelligent with the football. Adrian Peterson needs to keep being superhuman. Percy Harvin needs to continue showing the form that has at least one pundit putting him into the race for Most Valuable Player. Chad Greenway needs to continue being everywhere on defense, and Antoine Winfield needs to continue sipping from the fountain of youth.

If the Minnesota Vikings go out on Sunday afternoon against the Tennessee Titans and play the way they have the first four weeks of the 2012 season, they should. . .yes, should. . .defeat the Titans and move to 4-1. But if Leslie Frazier and company can't get our favorite football team to retain that intensity and focus, there's just as good a chance that all of us will be sitting here on Sunday night wondering what the heck happened.

Will the Minnesota Vikings maintain the same edge, intensity, and focus in the face of success that they had in the face of adversity? That's what I'm going to be watching for on Sunday afternoon.

What are some of the things you all are watching for?