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The Call: Vikings vs. Tennessee

  • October 6, 2012 - 5:59 PM

One man's prediction: As much as this feels like a trap game, it's hard to ignore just how sharp the Vikings' game planning and preparation was for San Francisco and Detroit, games in which they scored upsets. To be considered a true team on the rise, winning home games against inferior opponents is a must. The winning streak hits three. Vikings 31, Titans 20

Johnson again

A week after successfully scheming to neutralize Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, the Vikings defense turns its sights on Titans back Chris Johnson, who's coming off a 141-yard eruption against Houston. Defensive coordinator Alan Williams saw Johnson twice per season from 2008 to '11 while he was an assistant in Indianapolis. Williams admires Johnson's speed and ability to change direction. "If you give him one inch, it's one inch too much. So we have to make sure we corral him. ... Really, we have to keep our leverage, make sure we don't give him the edge."

Bigger plays

If the Vikings offense can't get into a rhythm, it'll be a cause for concern. Tennessee ranks 31st in yardage allowed (421.5 yards per game), 26th in sacks (six) and last in takeaways (two). The Titans have allowed 151 points through four games, on pace to break the NFL record for most points allowed in a season. The return of MLB Colin McCarthy should help. McCarthy missed 3 1/2 games because of an ankle injury. But big-play opportunities should be there for the Vikings.

Quick change

With Jake Locker nursing a sore left shoulder, the Titans will give Matt Hasselbeck the chance to make his 148th career start. Hasselbeck's veteran presence should steady Tennessee on the road. His knack for making quick throws also will keep the stingy Vikings defense on its toes. Rookie Kendall Wright (18 catches, 148 yards) and tight end Jared Cook (14 catches, 200 yards, one TD) are the Titans' top receivers.

1 Rushing touchdowns allowed so far this season by the Vikings. And that was a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Detroit's Matthew Stafford last week. The Vikings have held opponents to an average of 3.3 yards per rush, sixth best in the NFL.

Christian Ponder, Vikings: Ponder's completion percentage (68.3) should spike against a Tennessee pass defense that, through four games, has allowed opponents to complete 75.3 percent of their passes for 1,017 yards and 10 touchdowns with only one interception.

MANO-A-MANO:

A MATCHUP TO WATCH

Today: Titans RB Chris Johnson vs. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson

About Johnson

Since he entered the league in 2008, no back has rushed for more yards than Johnson's 5,831.

About Peterson

Has 28 100-yard games in his career, one off Robert Smith's team record.

Advantage: Peterson

Only six NFL backs have gone over 8,000 rushing yards in their first six seasons. Peterson (7,084) is on pace to become the seventh.

DAN WIEDERER

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