On the surface, the Titans should hold an advantage with a 3-0 record and playing at home against the 1-2 Vikings. However, the numbers tell a deeper story of which team holds the advantage in different areas.
The mantra for the Vikings for the last several months has been to survive the first four weeks and the rest will take care of itself. With a win today at Tennessee, the Vikings will be 2-2 and will have adequately lived up to that command – although both losses could have been wins with a big play here or there.
That belief has held true. The Packers and Colts were both defending division champions that combined for 26 wins in 2007. The Panthers came to Metrodome last week with a 2-0 record before falling to the Vikings. The Tennessee Titans
enter today's game with a 3-0 record – their best start since 1999.
Once the Vikings get past this game, as expected, the schedule eases up considerably. Their next four opponents – New Orleans, Detroit, Chicago and Houston – all currently have losing records. To come out of this week's game with a win, the Vikings could be setting themselves up nicely to rebound after a brutal start to the season. If they maintain the same formula used against the Panthers – strong defense and some big plays on offense, it could be an October to remember for Vikings fans after the season looked to be slipping away from them after two games.
VIKINGS-TITANS BY THE NUMBERS
The Vikings have the 17th-rated offense in the league (5th rushing, 24th passing) and the 7th-ranked defense (3rd rushing, 20th passing).
Tennessee has the 18th-rated offense (7th rushing, 22nd passing) and the 3rd-rated defense (10th rushing, 3rd passing).
Neither team has been dominating in punt returns – the Vikings are rated 28th in the league and the Titans are 27th.
The Titans lead the NFL in interceptions with seven in three games.
The defenses haven't allowed many first downs through the first three games – the Titans are tied for second in the league for least first downs allowed, while the Vikings are fifth.
The Titans are fourth in the league in third-down conversions on defense and the Vikings are 14th, which could be bad news for the offenses since the Vikings are 23rd in third-down conversions made and the Titans are 26th.
The Titans' coverage teams have been pretty dismal in stopping opponents. Tennessee is 31st in the league in average punt returns by opponents and 30th on covering kickoffs.
The Titans are plus-3 on the giveaway-takeaway chart (tied for fourth-best in the league), while the Vikings are tied for 10th at plus-1.
The Vikings have 11 more yards rushing (485) than passing (474) through three games, while the Titans have 11 yards more passing (479) than rushing (468).
The Vikings have allowed almost three times as many yards passing (631) than rushing (211).
No team in the league has been more efficient in the red zone than the Titans. Of eight red zone possessions, Tennessee has scored seven touchdowns. The Vikings are dead last in the league. In eight red zone possessions, they have scored just one TD and kicked six field goals.
The same is true defensively. The Titans are tied for second, allowing just 25 percent of opponent red-zone drives to end in touchdowns (three of 12). The Vikings are tied for 25th allowing two-thirds of opposing red zone drives (four of six) to end in touchdowns.
The Vikings are 10th in the league in yards per first down play on offense, averaging 5.51 yards a play. The Titans are 20th with a 4.96 yard average.
While both defenses have been strong, it hasn't translated to first down plays. The Titans are 26th in the league, allowing opponents to gain an average of 5.94 yards on first down. Worse yet are the Vikings, who are 30th with an average of 6.44 yards.
Adrian Peterson's 29 rushing attempts in Week 2 vs. Indianapolis remains the most carries by any player in a game this season.
Neither team has a 300-yard passer this year and the only 100-yard receiver has been TE Bo Scaife's 105 yards vs. Jacksonville in the season opener.
There have been 22 100-yard rushing games this year and the owners of three of them are playing today – Adrian Peterson has two (160, 103) and Chris Johnson has one (103).
Kerry Collins has a passer rating of 90.7, well ahead of the mark set by Tarvaris Jackson of 64.8. Gus Frerotte hasn't thrown enough passes to qualify in the rankings yet, but that will likely happen this week.
Titans rookie Chris Johnson leads the AFC in rushing with 276 yards on just 50 carries. Adrian Peterson is second in the NFL with 340 yards rushing, just 26 yards behind league leader Michael Turner.
In four games against AFC teams, Peterson has rushed for 594 yards – an average of 148.5 yards a game.
LenDale White's four rushing touchdowns trail just Turner and Ronnie Brown, who each have five.
Scaife is the leading receiver for the Titans with 10 receptions, which ties for 50th in the league. The Viking with the most catches if Chester Taylor with seven, which ties for 91st in the league.
Scaife's 137 receiving yards is 48th in the league. Bernard Berrian leads the Vikings with 117 yards, which places him 62nd in the league.
Ryan Longwell is tied for second in the league in scoring among kickers with 30 points. Rob Bironas is tied for 20th with 18 points.
Peterson is seventh in the league with 371 total yards, while Johnson is ninth with 327 total yards.
Chris Kluwe is 10th in the league with a 46.3-yard punting average. Craig Hentrich of the Titans is 15th with a 45.1-yard average. However when factoring in returns, Kluwe is 23rd in net average (35.1 yards) and Hentrich is 24th (34.9).
Chester Taylor is ninth in the league with a 26.3-yard kickoff return average.
Cortland Finnegan of the Titans leads the league with four interceptions and teammate Michael Griffin is tied for second with three.
Albert Haynesworth is tied for sixth in the league with three sacks, while teammate Kyle Vanden Bosch is tied for 14th with 2.5 sacks. Jared Allen and Kevin Williams are tied for 17th with two sacks each.
Since 2006, the Titans are 16-4 when scoring 20 points in a game.
The Vikings are 7-3 all-time against the Titans/Oilers organization, including the last four. The last meeting was Oct. 24, 2004 – a 20-3 win by the Vikings.