Titans Rolling Along
The Tennessee Titans know that no matter how well they're playing right now, the season is young.
The Minnesota Vikings also need to remind themselves that there are plenty of games left.
Tennessee seeks the best start in franchise history Sunday when it hosts a Vikings team trying to climb out of an early season hole.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Titans -3 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 73% of bets for this game have been placed on Titans -3 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
After defeating Houston 31-12 last week, the Titans are 3-0 for the third time and first since 1999 - the season of their only Super Bowl appearance. Defensive end Jevon Kearse and punter Craig Hentrich are the only players remaining from that club, and Kearse spent four seasons in Philadelphia before returning to Tennessee for 2008.
Thanks in part to Indianapolis' 1-2 start, the Titans hold a two-game lead as they seek to become the first team other than the Colts to win the AFC South since they won it themselves in 2002.
Coach Jeff Fisher, though, isn't interested in looking down the road.
"It's still so early," said Fisher, who's looking to lead the franchise to its first 4-0 start. "What we're trying to do is just build wins, just trying to win the next one. Six, seven weeks from now, we can start talking on those lines ...
"Our division for whatever reason ... has got off to a slow start. ... We just have to make the best of our opportunities.''
They've certainly done that through the first three games, especially on defense. The Titans have intercepted a league-high seven passes and recorded seven sacks, most in the AFC. With 29 points allowed, Tennessee is the only club in the league giving up fewer than 10 per game.
Thanks to that stifling defense, Kerry Collins has needed to attempt only one pass in the fourth quarter of each of the last two games since taking over as starting quarterback for Vince Young.
The players, though, seem to be taking a cue from Fisher and not getting ahead of themselves.
"It's still young in the season. It's just the first quarter,'' Titans linebacker David Thornton said. "If we go out and lay eggs in the second, third and fourth part of the season, this strong start can really be in vain. It's not how you start. It's how you finish, and we must continue to persevere for the duration of the season.''
Collins has been effective, completing 61.2 percent of his passes, but he hasn't needed to be spectacular with the defense and the running game doing most of the work. Rookie Chris Johnson leads the AFC with 276 rushing yards, while LenDale White has run for four touchdowns - two of them last week in a 31-12 victory over Houston.
That win was the sixth straight for the Titans, who now own the NFL's longest active regular season winning streak after New England's 21-game run ended Sunday.
A five-game win streak late in 2007 gave Minnesota (1-2) plenty of optimism for '08, but this year's Vikings are struggling to play up to those high hopes. They opened the season with losses to Green Bay and Indianapolis, but bounced back last week behind new starting quarterback Gus Frerotte with a 20-10 home victory over Carolina.
"I really don't have any idea how they're a 1-2 football team,'' Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme said after being sacked five times and pressured all afternoon.
Frerotte played a major part in preventing the Vikings from being 0-3. Inserted into the lineup in place of the struggling Tarvaris Jackson, the 15-year veteran completed 16 of 28 passes for 204 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The touchdown - a 34-yard strike to Visanthe Shiancoe shortly after halftime - ended a seven-quarter TD drought for Minnesota.
"He's been doing it so long that he just has a great way about him, a great confidence about him,'' Vikings coach Brad Childress said of Frerotte. "He enjoys it. You can tell that he still has a burning desire to compete.''
Despite being bothered by a sore hamstring, Adrian Peterson gained 77 yards on 17 carries against the Panthers. The star second-year running back has 340 rushing yards through the first three weeks, second in the league behind Atlanta's Michael Turner (366).
The Vikings are trying to avoid their third 1-3 start in the last four seasons. They've won their last four meetings with the Titans, including all three matchups since that franchise relocated from Houston.
They have also never played at LP Field. Minnesota's only previous visit to Nashville came in the last week of the 1998 season, when the Tennessee franchise was still the Oilers and played at Vanderbilt Stadium. The Vikings won that matchup 26-16 to complete a 15-1 regular season.
BETTING TRENDS FOR THIS GAME
All games in this series since 1992
MINNESOTA is 3-2 against the spread versus TENNESSEE since 1992
MINNESOTA is 4-1 straight up against TENNESSEE since 1992
3 of 5 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
All games played at TENNESSEE since 1992
MINNESOTA is 1-0 against the spread versus TENNESSEE since 1992
MINNESOTA is 1-0 straight up against TENNESSEE since 1992
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
KEY INURIES FOR THIS GAME
[DE] Jayme Mitchell IR - Knee - 08/09/08
[WR] Aundrae Allison is "?". - Foot - 09/18/08
[RB] Maurice Hicks is upgraded to probable - Foot - 09/17/08
[S] Madieu Williams is expected to miss 6 weeks. - Neck - 08/15/08
[DT] Kenderick Allen IR - Wrist - 08/19/08
(!) [RB] Adrian Peterson is probable, but not 100% healthy. - Hamstring - 09/17/08
[LB] Heath Farwell IR - Knee - 08/11/08
[DT] Ellis Wyms is "?". - Concussion - 09/18/08
[WR] Sidney Rice left last game, "?" - Knee - 09/15/08
[S] Darren Sharper is "?". - Shoulder - 09/18/08
[WR] Bernard Berrian is upgraded to probable - Toe - 09/17/08
[OT] Bryant McKinnie expected to miss 4 games. - Suspension - 08/14/08
[QB] Gus Frerotte is expected to start - None - 09/17/08
[DE] Kenechi Udeze expected to miss entire season - Illness - 08/16/08
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