Vikings’ 3 keys to beating the Titans

The Minnesota Vikings are looking to pick up their first win of the season this week as they take on the undefeated Tennessee Titans, who boast one of the fiercest rushers in the league in Derrick Henry.

Here are the three keys to a Vikings victory Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium:

1. Avoid third and long on offense

Three-and-outs have been far too regular for the Vikings’ offense through two weeks, and they need find more manageable third downs.

“Us staying in rhythm, getting our snaps, giving ourselves a chance to stay on the field for 70-75 plays instead of 50 football plays I think is going to make us a much better offensive football team,” offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said on Thursday.

The Vikings have only converted 33% of their third downs in 2020.

2. Stop the run

The Vikings’ run defense took a couple of big hits in the offseason. They let defensive tackle Linval Joseph walk in free agency, then newly signed defensive tackle Michael Pierce opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 health concerns.

Through two weeks, the Vikings rank 28th in the NFL in run defense, but coach Mike Zimmer saw some good things after the Colts’ first drive last Sunday.

"We had some good plays against the run," Zimmer said on Monday. "There were a couple where we misfitted and we lined up wrong, but it was much better than the week before."

Tennessee comes to town with a run-first offense. Henry rushed for 1,540 yards in 2019 and has 200 yards on the ground through two games this season.

3. Force turnovers

The Vikings’ defense needs to start making some splash plays to get their offense on the field more often.

An Eric Wilson interception in the second quarter of last Sunday’s loss to the Colts is the team’s only forced turnover so far this season.

Forcing the Titans to make mistakes won’t be easy; Tennessee has not turned the ball over yet in their 2-0 start.