Where: Mall of America Field at , Minneapolis, Minnesota
hard to identify the more surprising development after four weeks: Adrian Peterson’s healing powers, or the Minnesota Vikings being tied atop the NFC North.
Peterson and the Vikings hope to continue their stunning turnaround against the visiting Tennessee Titans, who will be without starting quarterback Jake Locker but have to be encouraged by embattled former 2,000-yard rusher Chris Johnson’s latest effort.
The Vikings, who matched their 2011 win total with an upset of Detroit last week are getting plenty of attention – highlighted by Peterson’s fast return from major knee surgery.Tennessee is coming off a 38-14 loss to Houston but did get some good news. Johnson finally showed signs of life, rushing for 141 yards on 25 carries after totaling 45 in the first three games.
Tennessee Titans(1-3): Johnson’s woes have been well-publicized, but the Titans’ biggest problem is a defense that is allowing an NFL-worst 37.8 points per game. The passing defense has been especially horrific, allowing an NFL-worst 75.3 percent completion rate and the second most touchdowns (10).
The Titans’ other current issue is at quarterback after Locker was injured in the loss to Houston. The second-year pro suffered a separated his non-throwing shoulder – the same area he injured in the opener against New England. Veteran Matt Hasselbeck, who had a pair of interceptions returned for touchdowns in relief, will be called on to start. Receiver Kenny Britt (questionable, ankle) may return after missing last week’s contest.
Minnesota Vikings(3-1): Peterson’s speedy recovery from ACL and MCL surgery – he’s nearly back to full strength after just nine months – is a major reason for the Vikings’ dramatic improvement. Peterson (332 yards, 2 TDs) ran for 102 yards on 21 carries in the 20-13 win over the Lions, marking his first 100-yard game in nearly a year.
Another Minnesota strength is a defense that ranks seventh in the league in points allowed (20.2) and eighth in yards (313.5). The steady hand of second-year QB Christian Ponder (824 yards, 4 TDs, 68.3 completion percentage) has also been vital to Minnesota’s success.
Percy Harvin, who returned the opening kickoff for 105 yards last week, entered with a league-best 27 catches but was held to season lows of three receptions for 22 yards.
1. The Vikings are the first team in NFL history to record both a kick return for a touchdown and a punt return for a score in same game three different times.
2. “I wouldn’t say we ultimately solved the problem, but I feel like we took a good step, and hopefully we continue to get better.” – Johnson, on his much-publicized struggles.
3. Ponder has gone 123 attempts without an interception. The franchise record is 193 attempts, set by Hall of Famer Warren Moon in 1995.