Minnesota Vikings vs. Tennessee Titans Preview and Pick

Minnesota Vikings (1-2) +3, 36 O/U at Tennessee Titans (3-0) -3, 36
O/U, LP Field, Nashville, Tenn., 1 PM Eastern, Sunday

by Badger of Predictem.com

The Minnesota Vikings look to continue their winning ways behind new
starting quarterback Gus Frerotte when they travel to take on the
undefeated Tennessee Titans at LP Field in Nashville Sunday.

How lonely is it for Tarvaris Jackson these days? Vikings head coach Brad Childress made the switch at quarterback last week dumping
Jackson in favor of the veteran Frerotte, and the Vikings responded
with their first win of the season in a 20-10 decision over the
previously undefeated Carolina Panthers. Now the Vikings prepare for
another undefeated team, on the road, where they struggled to a 3-5
record last season.

Tennessee is also using their second quarterback this season, but
its business as usual for the Titans as veteran Kerry Collins has
lead them to two wins in the absence of starter Vince Young. Collins
threw for 189 yards and a touchdown in the Titans victory last
weekend, a 31-12 decision over the Houston Texans.

The oddsmakers in Las Vegas opened this game with the Titans as the typical 3-point home favorites, with a 37-point over/under total.
While the total has already dropped to either 36 or even 35.5 at a
few sportsbooks (BetCRIS and Las Vegas Hilton), enough early money
has been placed on both sides to make this game stand firm on the 3-
point number thus far.

As mentioned, Frerotte performed well in his 2008 debut last week
going 16-of-28 for 204 yards and one touchdown. With running backs
Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor fueling the leagues 5th-ranked
ground game (162 ypg - 121 last week vs. Panthers), Frerotte gives
the Vikings the ability to stretch the field a little more. Frerotte
was also able to get tight end Visanthe Shiancoe (2 catches for 38
yds., TD) and receiver Bernard Berrian (3-for-79 yds.) involved in
the passing game last week, something Jackson was unable to do.

Tennessee hasnt missed a beat on offense since Collins replaced Young, leading the team to two convincing wins, albeit versus the
Texans and the hapless Cincinnati Bengals (24-7 in week two). What
will be interesting to watch will be the Titans speed-and-power
combination at running back versus the Minnesota run defense. Rookie
Chris Johnson (team-high 276 rushing yards) is the speed, and LenDale
White (4 TD) is the power, as the Titans pound teams into submission
and play field-position football better than any team in the league.

But both offenses will have their work cut out for them because this game is really a showcase of two of the NFLs best defenses.

Tennessee is top-10 in every category known to man for defense,
including 3rd in total yards allowed (240.3 ypg), 3rd in passing
yards allowed (151.3 ypg) and 1st in points allowed (9.7 ppg).
Minnesota is also top-10 in several categories, including 7th overall
(280.7 ypg), 4th in rushing yards allowed (70.3 ypg), and 8th in
scoring allowing just 17.3 points per game. Both are also capable of
big momentum-changing plays as Minnesota scooped up a fumble and ran
it back last week, while Tennessee ran back an interception for a
score in their win as well.

The Titans and Viking havent met since the Vikings 20-3 victory back
in 2004 in the Metrodome. In fact, the Vikings have won five straight
in this series (dating back to 1995) and have covered the number in
the last four.

Despite making the playoffs last season, the Titans still dont get
much respect from bettors or oddsmakers, at least early in the
season. The Titans are 3-0 ATS so far in 08, are 5-1 ATS in their
last six games going back into last season, and are 7-0 ATS in their
last seven games in September.

Meanwhile, the only betting trend that favors the Vikings is their
4-1 ATS record in their last five games versus teams with winning
records. Otherwise the Vikings have struggled versus the number in
general this season with a 1-2 ATS record (1-6 ATS in last seven
overall), and on the road versus teams with winning records (1-6-1 ATS).

Both teams are 1-2 on the over/under bet this season, and historically the series has played under the total to the tune of a
5-2 record, so its no surprise the total has been dropping since it
opened at 36. The Titans were a solid bet for the under last season
(5-11) and the under has cashed in five of their last six overall.

Badgers Pick: Even with a low, low total of 35.5, I still think this game stays under the total. The difference in this game will be
pass defense. Minnesota will have a hard time passing, while the
Titans should be able to do it when they need to. So I like the
Titans to cover the number here, take the Titans minus the 3 points.