The Minnesota Vikings are already at a turning point in the 2020 season. With the Tennessee Titans coming to U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, the Vikings have a tall task to avoid their first 0-3 start since the 2013 season.
With two games under their belt, the Vikings need to make some changes if they want to turn things around. But will they be able to do it against the Titans, whose smashmouth style seems destined to give Minnesota fits?
Will Kirk Cousins rebound from an awful start?
Last week's performance at Indianapolis couldn't have gone worse for Cousins. The Vikings' signal-caller completed 11-of-26 passes for 113 yards and threw three interceptions in the loss, which had "Tank for Trevor" campaigns popping up across social media.
Cousins isn't a stranger to up-and-down performances, so it's possible that last week's struggles could be behind him this Sunday.
To do that, the Vikings will have to get more players involved. While Adam Thielen enjoyed a monster performance in Week 1, Dalvin Cook has 26 carries over the first two games. The Vikings also haven't used first-round pick Justin Jefferson, who has six targets in two weeks.
Whatever the Vikings decide, something needs to change in order to help their struggling defense.
How can the Vikings stop Derrick Henry?
The looming thought of Henry coming to town should be enough to keep co-defensive coordinators Andre Patterson and Adam Zimmer awake at night.
Henry is the NFL's defending rushing champion but hasn't gotten off to a hot start in 2020. Through two games, Henry is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry and hasn't visited the end zone for the Titans. That could change on Sunday as the Vikings rank sixth worst in the league with 309 rushing yards allowed.
While teams haven't been able to break big runs, the Vikings haven't been able to keep teams from averaging more than 4 yards per carry. That's allowed their opponents to control the time of possession and keep the ball away from Minnesota's offense.
With Anthony Barr out for the season, the Vikings will need someone to step up or risk being run over for the third straight week.
Is the Titans' passing attack a problem?
The good news for the Vikings is that they won't have to deal with A.J. Brown. The star receiver will miss his second straight game with a bone bruise, but there are plenty of other threats that the Vikings should be concerned about.
Jonnu Smith should be priority No. 1 in the passing game as the tight end has three touchdowns in the first two games. Former top-10 draft pick Corey Davis also has stepped up, leading Tennessee with 137 yards receiving.
Inexperience has been a big key for the Vikings in the opening weeks, but their health has now come into question. With Mike Hughes and Cameron Dantzler both out, it will be on rookie Jeff Gladney and possibly Mark Fields to try to slow down the aerial attack.
Will Cook have his breakout game?
The Vikings will have an uphill battle on Sunday trying to take care of the Titans. With a struggling defense that's now battling injuries, they might not have the personnel to keep the Titans from moving down the field.
What the Vikings should be able to do is run the ball. With Cook having minimal involvement through the first two weeks, the Vikings' best plan of attack is to deploy their top weapon against Tennessee's 11th ranked rush defense.
That offensive game plan will cause some fans to roll their eyes, but it would help the Vikings break 50 plays for the first time this season. As a strategy that would also keep their reeling defense off the field, Cook may be the key to a Vikings victory.