The Minnesota Vikings regular-season opener is finally upon us as they square off with the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on Sunday.
Here are five things to watch for when the Vikings kickoff at noon.
1. Who the heck is starting at quarterback?
After Teddy Bridgewater suffered a catastrophic knee injury last month, the Vikings said they had the utmost confidence in Shaun Hill to be the team’s starting QB.
Well shortly after that – they traded two draft picks to Philadelphia for former No. 1 NFL Draft pick Sam Bradford. Despite Bradford’s pedigree, some have questioned if he would start the opener since he came in so late.
2. Adrian Peterson is going to get the ball. A lot.
With a new starting quarterback coming in, you should expect the Vikings to not pass too much on Sunday. Which means running back Adrian Peterson should get a fair amount of touches.
The NFL’s leading rusher from a season ago ran for over 1400 yards and the Vikings still appear to be a rush-first team.
3. How healthy is Xavier Rhodes?
Rhodes missed the final two preseason games and some practices with a minor injury. The third-year cornerback returned to practice this week but was limited.
Despite just two-career interceptions, Rhodes emerged as one of the top cornerbacks in NFC last season and Minnesota will need him healthy going forward.
4. Which offensive line shows up?
he Vikings offensive line last season was extremely inconsistent. So in the offseason Minnesota signed free agents Alex Boone and Andre Smith to beef up their line.
In fact – the Vikings have the most expensive line in the NFL after their signings. They had a rough go of it in the first preseason game but improved thereafter.
No matter the reps in practice, the unit needs time together at full game speed to live up to its potential.
5. Make the Titans pass the ball
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota started 12 games as a rookie last year and put up solid numbers. However the Titans made a big splash in the offseason to their run game.
They traded for DeMarco Murray who led the NFL in rushing two years ago and drafted Marcus Henry with their second-round pick in NFL Draft last May.
Head coach Mark Mularkey said he wants this year’s Titans to be a‘smashmouth’ football team. If Minnesota can make Tennessee deviate from their original game plan of running the football, they’ll be in good hands.