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 Sleepers: Week 7
After coming down with a calf strain at practice on Friday, Aaron Jones is now expected to miss the Week 7 game against the Texans. This is a tough one for fantasy football managers, as Jones has been a reliable RB1 all season long and may be difficult to replace in fantasy lineups on short notice. Fourth-year running back Jamaal Williams is now expected to act as the lead RB, but rookie AJ Dillon will be in the mix as well and should see more touches than usual. Dexter Williams was added to the Packers active roster on Saturday as well for additional running back depth. Consider Williams a plug-and-play RB2/FLEX option, while Dillon looks more like an RB3/RB4 flier for deeper leagues. Both are also intriguing lower-cost options for DFS lineups, depending on the contest format.
Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones (calf) isn't expected to play Sunday, Oct. 25, and the team is planning on him not playing, according to sources Saturday, Oct. 24.
Fantasy Spin: It's a big blow for fantasy managers. Packers RBs Jamaal Williams, AJ Dillon and Dexter Williams should all play roles with Dillon being the most appealing for fantasy purposes.
Dallas Cowboys DB Rashard Robinson (undisclosed) was placed on the practice squad injured list Saturday, Oct. 24.
Cincinnati Bengals DT Mike Daniels was activated from the Reserve/Injured list Saturday, Oct. 24. DB Winston Rose was also promoted from the practice squad to the active roster.
Atlanta Falcons DE Austin Edwards and LB Edmond Robinson were added to the active roster from the practice squad Saturday, Oct. 24, as COVID-19 replacements.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (knee) has an 'outside chance' of returning in Week 8, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan Saturday, Oct. 24.
Fantasy Spin: Coleman should be stashed now wherever available with RB Raheem Mostert going on the Reserve/Injured list Saturday.
Updating a previous story, Los Angeles Rams TE Tyler Higbee (hand) is officially listed as questionable for the game Monday, Oct. 26, against the Chicago Bears after getting in a limited practice Saturday, Oct. 24.
Los Angeles Rams DL Michael Brockers (non-injury) and CB Troy Hill (non-injury) didn't practice Saturday, Oct. 24, but don't carry injury designations for Week 7. DL Aaron Donald (non-injury) and OL Andrew Whitworth (non-injury) practiced in full and don't carry injury designations.
Los Angeles Rams TE Tyler Higbee (hand) is hopeful to play Monday, Oct. 26, according to head coach Sean McVay Saturday, Oct. 24.
Fantasy Spin: Higbee had a season-high 56 yards with three catches on four targets in Week 6. He's a low-tier TE1 when on the field.
Los Angeles Rams WR Robert Woods (groin) was a limited participant at practice Saturday, Oct. 24, but doesn't carry an injury designation into the Week 7 game against the Chicago Bears Monday, Oct. 26.
Fantasy Spin: Woods will be a somewhat risky WR3 play in what's projected as a low-scoring game against the Bears.
Kansas City Chiefs DE Alex Okafor (hamstring) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Saturday, Oct. 24.
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Chris Thompson was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday, Oct. 24.
Updating previous stories, San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert (ankle) was officially placed on the Reserve/Injured list Saturday, Oct. 24. S Johnathan Cyprien and S Jared Mayden were activated from the team's practice squad. WR Jauan Jennings (undisclosed) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list.
Tennessee Titans DB Dane Cruikshank was activated from the Reserve/Injured list to the active roster Saturday, Oct. 24. OL David Quessenberry and LB Daren Bates were elevated from the practice squad to the active roster.
Denver Broncos CB A.J. Bouye, DE Dre'Mont Jones and DE DeMarcus Walker were activated from the Reserve/Injured list to the active roster Saturday, Oct. 24. CB De'Vante Bausby was released in a corresponding move. Free-agent DL Sylvester Williams (Broncos) was re-signed to the practice squad. RB Jeremy Cox and LB Nigel Bradham will be elevated from the practice squad to the game-day roster for Sunday, Oct. 25.
Las Vegas Raiders DE David Irving and CB Dylan Mabin were activated from the practice squad Saturday, Oct. 24.
Pittsburgh Steelers RB Trey Edmunds and LB Jayrone Elliott were elevated from the practice squad to the active roster Saturday, Oct. 24.