It’s time for everybody to call their shots for Week 1 of the 2016 NFL season, and specifically the matchup that really matters. . .your Minnesota Vikings battling the Tennessee Titans from Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee.
As we did last year, we have our fancy prediction widget for you to make your predictions on, courtesy of our friends at The Crowd’s Line.
It’s pretty simple to use the widget. . .just pop in your score and hit the Submit button. If you registered last season, you can put in your e-mail address and the widget will track your results all year long.
So, as far as my prediction for this one. . .
This is a game that, on paper, the Vikings should win. Even with the indecision at quarterback, the Vikings would appear to be a better football team as things stand right now. However, as Minnesota learned the hard way in last year’s season opener, these games definitely aren’t played on paper, and even though they are a talented football team and have a prime-time matchup to open their new stadium against a hated rival in Week 2, they can’t afford to look past this team.
The Titans are going to play a smashmouth brand of football, and they have the “thunder and lightning” combination in the backfield to do just that. The lightning comes in the form of DeMarco Murray, a former rushing champion that had a bit of a rough go in Philadelphia last season and wound up in Tennessee via trade. The role of thunder. . .see what I did there. . .is played by Derrick Henry, the 245-pounder that the Titans selected in Round 2 after a monstrous, Heisman Trophy-winning season at Alabama. Despite having a good young talent like Marcus Mariota at quarterback, new Titans coach (and former Vikings tight end) Mike Mularkey has expressed his team’s commitment to running the football. If the Titans can get the run game rolling early, it’s going to make things a lot tougher on Minnesota.
Fortunately, the Minnesota defense appears to be in a position to pick up where they left off. Xavier Rhodes has been troubled a bit by a hamstring injury in practice so far, but other than that this defense is healthy and ready to roll. It’s going to be incumbent on Linval Joseph, Sharrif Floyd, and the rest of the Vikings’ front seven to slow down the Titans running game and allow Mike Zimmer and company to start mixing things up to throw Mariota off his game.
When the Vikings have the ball. . .well, we don’t know who’s going to be taking the snaps yet. Zimmer has, apparently, decided, but he’s not telling anyone yet. But whether it’s Shaun Hill or Sam Bradford, we can probably expect a pretty heavy dose of Adrian Peterson for the Vikings in this one. The Titans have a pretty good defense up front, led by the vastly underrated Jurrell Casey and veteran Brian Orakpo. The Titans are probably going to load the box in an effort to stop Peterson, but that means that if #28 can find a crease, there isn’t going to be anyone back there to stop him. If Peterson can get going early, it should open up the play-action passing game for whoever is under center in this one.
When it’s all said and done, I don’t think that Mike Zimmer is going to allow the sort of Week 1 stinkbomb that he allowed his team to drop last season in San Francisco. This team is going to be ready to go and geared up to start this season on a positive note. The Titans may be a team on the rise, but for now, I think the Vikings can get themselves a victory before next week’s big primetime matchup at U.S. Bank stadium.
Prediction: Vikings 24, Titans 17
So, who do you have in this one, folks?