Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) runs past Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback C.J. Henderson (23) in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, right, is pressured by dIndianapolis Colts' Denico Autry (96) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) hands off to running back Derrick Henry in the first half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) passes against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook scores on a 1-yard touchdown run ahead of Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Christian Kirksey (58) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The thriving veteran quarterback. The game-controlling rushing attack. The premier pass rusher. Those are some of the strengths the Tennessee Titans will take with them to Minnesota.
The Vikings could be forgiven for harboring envy, after all, for these are attributes they thought they had.
Instead, the Vikings will try to reverse course from their troubling start and pick up their first victory of this abnormal season against the unbeaten Titans, the type of team they want to be.
''We've made too many mistakes. We've had turnovers, penalties. If you go back and look at the times that we've been here, the identity of our team has always been tough and physical and smart and not beating ourselves,'' said coach Mike Zimmer, who has his only 0-2 start in seven years with the Vikings. ''So we're going to have to fix that.''
The Vikings, who've been outscored 37-13 in the first half in runaways by Green Bay and Indianapolis, are last in the NFL in time of possession and second-to-last in turnover margin. Kirk Cousins posted the worst passer rating of his career against the Colts, Dalvin Cook has had scant opportunities to get in a ball-carrying groove, and defensive end Danielle Hunter has been sidelined since a reported neck injury at the beginning of training camp.
The Titans, on the flip side, have won their first two games for the first time since 2008, when they began 10-0. After defeating Denver by two points and beating Jacksonville by a field goal, the Titans have plenty of room for improvement. This is largely the same team that reached the AFC championship game last season, though, with Ryan Tannehill leading the league in passer rating and Derrick Henry winning the NFL rushing title. They've since added three-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, on a one-year, $13 million contract to give the defense a boost.
After investing long term in Tannehill, bringing back all but one starter on an offense featuring budding stars in wide receiver A.J. Brown and tight end Jonnu Smith and bolstering the pass rush with Clowney and Vic Beasley, the Titans have high expectations. That would explain their discomfort with their overall performance over the first two games.
''You would think in this locker room that we're 0-2,'' left tackle Taylor Lewan said. ''We're focused, which I think is different than I've seen in past years.''
HERE COMES HENRY
Though the Titans have been seeking more efficiency in their rushing attack while ranking just 26th in the NFL in yards per attempt, Henry is a powerful runner behind an imposing offensive line with the potential to perpetuate problems the Vikings have had along their front four. Shamar Stephen is the only starter currently in place from last season, and he had to move tackle spots after free agent addition Michael Pierce opted out due to health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
''Zimmer coaches a sound defense. They always put a tough team out on the field and guys in the right spots. I have a ton of respect,'' Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. ''Obviously, the scores probably don't indicate the level of execution that they actually played with.''
The Titans have been vulnerable against the run, too. After ranking 12th in the league last season, surrendering an average of 104.5 rushing yards per game, Tennessee is just 23rd in the NFL after letting undrafted Jaguars rookie James Robinson run for 102 yards last week on an average of 6.4 yards per carry. Missing Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, who's now with Denver, the Titans allowed Jacksonville to convert 10 of 14 third downs.
TEN FOR TANNEHILL?
Tannehill, the NFL comeback player of the year for 2019, tied his career high with four touchdown passes against the Jaguars has thrown for six scores without an interceptions this season. He has at least two touchdown passes with one or fewer interceptions in nine straight games. If he does that again Sunday against the Vikings, the ninth-year player would become the fourth quarterback in NFL history with such a streak of 10 consecutive games, joining Aaron Rodgers (13 in 2011), Tom Brady (11 in 2010-11) and Philip Rivers (10 in 2017-18).
In the 12 regular-season games they've played since Tannehill took over as the starter, the Titans have 130 fourth-quarter points, the most in the league. The Vikings are second with 119.
SIDELINED, BOTH SIDES
The Titans could be without Brown for a second straight game because of a bone bruise in his knee, and they've got some injury issues at cornerback. Malcolm Butler (quadriceps) was limited in practice Thursday, and the other original starter, Adoree' Jackson (knee), was placed on injured reserve last week. Backups Johnathan Joseph (calf) and Chris Jackson (hamstring) were also on the injury report this week.
The Vikings, who lost four-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Anthony Barr for the season with a torn pectoral muscle suffered against the Colts, are in rough shape at cornerback with Mike Hughes (neck) and Cameron Dantzler (rib) iffy for Sunday.
Five Waiver Wire Adds: Week 7
Buffalo Bills WR John Brown (knee) wasn't 100 percent recovered from injury against the Kansas City Chiefs Monday, Oct. 19, according to head coach Sean McDermott.
Fantasy Spin: It may help to explain Brown's disappointing catch-less performance. He scored a touchdown in each of the first two games of the season but has clearly taken a backseat to Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley. He'll be a risky FLEX play in Week 7, even against the New York Jets.
Los Angeles Rams PK Kai Forbath was placed on the Exempt/Commissioner Permission list Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory was activated from the Exempt/Commissioner Permission list Tuesday, Oct. 20.
New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook was Drew Brees primary red zone threat while Michael Thomas remained sidelined, but with the All-Pro wideout expected back Sunday versus Carolina, Cooks time as a TE1 in season-long formats may have passed. While Cook managed to receive seven targets Week 1 when Thomas was alongside him, the veteran has been a touchdown-dependent option since then. In addition, the Panthers Defense has been stout against opposing tight ends this season, allowing just 221 yards and two touchdowns across six games. With a plethora of options at Brees disposal, Cook remains an appealing play, albeit a tenuous one that carries sizable risk.
New York Jets QB Mike White was designated as a protected practice squad player for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR Deon Cain, RB Trey Edmunds, DE Henry Mondeaux and RB Wendell Smallwood were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers PK Greg Joseph and DT Jeremiah Ledbetter were protected from selection off the practice squad for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Tennessee Titans LB Daren Bates, PK Tucker McCann, G David Quessenberry and QB Trevor Siemian were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was given a vote of confidence from head coach Mike McCarthy on Tuesday, confirming that the star running back would be the starter for Sundays contest against Washington. Elliott lost two fumbles Monday versus the Cardinals, ceding way to Tony Pollard at times, but with Andy Dalton once again to likely receive the start, Elliott will need to be relied upon for Dallas to have success offensively. Unfortunately for Elliott, the teams offensive line is heavily banged up due to injuries. Factoring that in on top of his fumble woes (five in 2020, four of which have been lost), DFS fantasy managers may want to look elsewhere Sunday, especially considering his price tag. Season-long managers can continue to role Elliott out and bank on his perpetual upside paying off.
Jacksonville Jaguars TE Ben Ellefson, LB Joe Giles-Harris, DB Doug Middleton and TE Eric Saubert were protected from selection off the practice squad for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Las Vegas Raiders PK Dominik Eberle, DE David Irving, DB Dylan Mabin and DE Chris Smith were chosen as the team's protected practice squad players for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has made each of the five defenses that he has faced 2020 look rather pedestrian on his way to becoming the favorite to claim the NFLs MVP trophy this season. On paper, his matchup Sunday versus Arizona should be another such instance, which is backed up by his gaudy DFS price tag. But gleaning his numbers against the Cardinals over the past two seasons tells a different story; over their last four matchups, he has exceeded the 200-yard passing threshold just once and has not rushed for a touchdown in any of those outings. The Cardinals Defense ranks in the top half of the league in passing yards allowed per game this season (226.5), another notch in the belt of why DFS fantasy managers may want to consider other QB options during Week 7.
Cleveland Browns RB John Kelly, QB Kyle Lauletta, DE Cameron Malveaux and PK Matthew McCrane were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Denver Broncos LB Nigel Bradham, WR Fred Brown, RB Jeremy Cox and C Patrick Morris were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Houston Texans DT Corey Liuget and C Greg Mancz were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (back) was last seen dealing with back spasms when he took the field versus the Saints last Monday. Despite that, head coach Anthony Lynn has reiterated that Allen will not be hampered come Sunday versus Jacksonville, a matchup that is set to work in Allens favor due to the 270.7 passing yards per game that the Jaguars Defense is allowing. With the emergence of Justin Herbert as both a downfield threat and consistent pocket passer, Allens season-long fantasy outlook is only on the rise after having averaged 12 targets through his first four games. His recent injury should give DFS fantasy managers pause, but so long as he is given the green light to suit up, season-long managers should consider starting him in most formats where he is rostered.
Atlanta Falcons QB Kurt Benkert, DE Austin Edwards, LB Edmond Robinson and WR Chris Rowland were designated as the team's four protected practice squad players for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Chicago Bears QB Tyler Bray was protected from selection off the practice squad for Week 7 Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson should continue to see an unimpeded path to RB1 duties this Sunday against the Cardinals with both Carlos Hyde (shoulder) and Rashaad Penny (knee) unlikely to suit up. Carson was limited to just eight carries in his most recent outing, but that was primarily due to the nature of the game flow; fantasy managers can expect to see him rack up his usual workload and then some against Arizona. Having amassed three rushing and three receiving scores so far this season, Carson has retained a considerable role in the Seattle offense, with Travis Homer a distant second to cutting into his workload. Carson is a must-start in season-long formats and should have some considerable DFS appeal.
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs is likely fresh after having his week off, but that wont change the fact that hell be squaring off with the NFLs premier run-stuffing unit Sunday in the form of the Buccaneers Defense. Tampa Bay has yielded an average of just 64.3 rushing yards per contest to begin the year, while Jacobs has amassed an average of 75.4 all by himself. Having carried the ball an average of 21.2 times per game, season-long fantasy managers needn't shy away from Jacobs, but those eyeing him on the DFS market may want to tread lightly. Despite his five rushing scores, Jacobs has yet to compile a 100-yard game on the ground this season after having racked up five such performances as a rookie in 2019.