Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans quietly going about their business
I had this great idea to mention a pair of teams that have quietly gone about their business with a lot of success this season.
But now I see that one of them, Minnesota, has been front and center since their trade for Detroit’s leading tight end, T.J. Hockenson, on Tuesday.
The other team is Tennessee, which I think still doesn’t get much attention, especially when the talk is about the elite of the NFL.
So for the record, the Vikings are 6-1 — tied for the second-best record in the league — while Tennessee is 5-2, tied for second best in the AFC.
The teams they match records with are A LOT higher profile — the only other one-loss team, also 6-1, is Buffalo, while the other 5-2 team in the AFC is Kansas City.
Both the Vikings and Titans are winning close games, as evidenced by their points-for and -against totals this season. Minnesota has outscored its opponents by only 29 points, 173-144, despite their sterling record. In comparison, the Bills have a plus-105 differential, 203-98.
And Tennessee is an even stranger case. Despite a 5-2 mark, they’ve been OUTSCORED by six points, 138-132. Again, in comparison the Chiefs are a plus-51 in points, 223-172, with the same record.
So that’s got to be part of it. I’ve also heard that the wins by both Vikings and Titans aren’t exactly coming against the elite of the NFL, but really, if you can beat anybody in this league, you’ve got to be good. Just ask the Lions or Packers.
Finally, I think both teams don’t throw a lot of long bombs, instead playing good defense while running the ball in the Titans’ case and throwing dinks and dunks up in Minnesota.
Just keep an eye on them, which shouldn’t be too hard to do if you’re a Packers or Lions fan, since they’re in our division.
Now onto the picks for this week, which has only 13 games as a half-dozen teams are on the bye, mostly notably Dallas, the Giants and San Francisco:
Today, 8:15 p.m.
Philadelphia at Houston — Like the Vikings and Titans, the Texans don’t get a lot of attention, but that’s much more deserved with their 1-5-1 record. Eagles, 34-20.
Sunday, 1 p.m.
Los Angeles Chargers at Atlanta — The Falcons got a gift last week as Carolina should’ve beaten them twice before Atlanta finally came through and did win it in overtime. I don’t see the Chargers as being in such a gift-giving mood. Chargers, 23-20.
Miami at Chicago — The Dolphins’ offense probably looked better than it really is by playing in Detroit last week. This week, Miami’s defense will look ferocious going up against an inept Bears’ offense. Dolphins, 26-12.
Carolina at Cincinnati — Supposedly, if you can rush quarterback Joe Burrow, you can beat Cincy. Can Carolina do anything close to that? Nah. Bengals, 31-24.
Green Bay at Detroit — Just the tonic the Packers have been looking for. People are going to wonder why each and every one of the new Green Bay crop of receivers haven’t been compared to Davante Adams by the time this one’s over. Packers, 37-23.
Las Vegas at Jacksonville — The Raiders are lost, so they certainly won’t be able to figure out how they ended up in north Florida. Jaguars, 19-15.
Indianapolis at New England — A rudderless team is prime fodder for Bill Belichick’s trickiness almost a week after Halloween. Patriots, 24-9.
Buffalo at New York Jets — The Jets look like they’ve been doing it with bubble gum and baling wire. That won’t work against the upstate New Yorkers, even while playing in north Jersey. Bills, 30-19.
Minnesota at Washington — The Commanders are a nice story, but Minnesota should be able to control the final drive and pull out a close victory. Vikings, 27-24.
Sunday, 4 p.m.
Seattle at Arizona — OK, I’ll drink the Seattle Kool-Aid, especially against a talented but dysfunctional-looking Cardinals outfit. Seahawks, 28-24.
Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay — Two teams trending the wrong way. But here’s thinking this L.A. unit is ready to snap out of it. Meanwhile, Tom Brady is still 45 and barely holding onto that, since the years seem to get shorter and shorter the older you get. Rams, 27-20.
Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
Tennessee at Kansas City — This is the Titans’ one chance to raise their profile on a national stage. Me thinks it’s the wrong team to do it against. Chiefs, 33-24.
Monday, 8:15 p.m.
Baltimore at New Orleans — The Ravens just added a piece to their defense. Not a good thing to hear for a Saints’ team with a messed-up QB situation. Ravens, 34-23.
Last week — 10-5, 67 percent. Season — 68-54-1, 56 percent.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is email@example.com.