Minnesota Vikings (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Tennessee Titans (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
Date/Time: Sunday, September 11, 2016 at 1:00 PM EST
Where: Nissan Stadium
TV: FOX, DTV 713
by Chad Holloway, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MIN -2.5/TEN +2.5
Over/Under Total: 41
These two teams have hope for the future. Both are young and building a solid foundation, though the Vikings did suffer a major setback with the loss of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for the season. With Shaun Hill slated to step under center, it seemed things were over before they began in Minnesota; that is until they traded for veteran QB Sam Bradford.
While Bradford must face the trials and tribulations that come with stepping into a starting role on little notice, he’s coming into a fairly good offense. Adrian Peterson ensures the running game will stay on point (it ranked 4th in the NFL last year averaging 138.2 YPG), and that will give Bradford the opportunity to improve the passing game, which averaged just 183 YPG last season (31st in the league).
Bradford will pick up where Bridgewater left off working with receiver Stefon Diggs, who caught 52 passes for 720 yards and four touchdowns last season. However, Bradford will also have first crack at Laquon Treadwell, who the Vikings drafted in the first round. At 6’2”, Treadwell is the weapon the team desperately needed to give their passing game some life.
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As for the Titans, they too have a lot of offensive weapons to work with. Marcus Mariota, now in his second year, looks to become the first Titans QB to pass for more than 3,000 yards since Matt Hasselbeck did it in 2011. To do it, Mariota, who missed four games last season due to two separate knee injuries, has will be working with a revamped offense.
Their leading rusher last year isn’t on the depth chart (it was Antonio Andrews with 143 attempts for 520 yards), and instead DeMarco Murray and rookie Derrick Henry have been brought in. Murray will receive the bulk of the carries and looks to return to his 2014 form when he led the league in rushing with the Cowboys. Rest assured the Titans will improve upon their 25th-ranked rushing offense last year (92.8 YPG).
As for the Titans passing game, which was tied for 25th in the league last year at an average of 218.9 YPG, things look hopeful. TE Delanie Walker, who led the team with 94 receptions and 1,088 yards last year, is back, as is wide out Kendall Wright, who caught 36 passes for 408 yards. Dorial Green-Beckham is gone, but in his place the Titans acquired Rishard Matthews from the Miami Dolphins. You may not be familiar with Matthews, but he shined in the few opportunities he got in a crowded Miami receiving corps. Looks for Matthews to not only make a name for himself this season, but to make a difference in the Titans’ pass attack.
Defensively, these two teams stack up fairly even. Last year, the Vikings allowed an average of 344.4 YPG (234.9 passing YPG; 109.2 rushing YPG), while the Titans allowed 342.2 YPG (229.9 passing YPG; 112.3 rushing YPG). However, where they differed is keeping their opponents out of the end zone – the Titans allowed an average of 26.4 points per game (PPG) while the Vikings allowed just 18.9 PPG.
Chad Holloway's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I actually think this will be one of the better games in Week 1 – they’re just so evenly matched that it’s bound to be a tightly-contested affair – and the line is just about perfect. I think the Vikings will be able to cover by 3-10 points, and the reason is simple. Like he’s done so many times before, Adrian Peterson will run roughshod over the competition. The Titans will have their hands full trying to stop AP, and that will allow Bradford to get some things done through the air. Any learning curve Bradford must experience will be alleviated by having the best back in the NFL behind him. The Titans are going to do some good things this season, but starting 1-0 is not one of them.
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