The Minnesota Vikings (11-5 in 2015) hit the road in Week 1 to play the Tennessee Titans (3-13 in 2015), making it the seventh time in the past nine years the team as opened as the away team. It is the first time since 2008 the Vikings will take on the Titans in Nashville. Minnesota owns an 8-4 record in the series between the franchises. The Vikings held a 5-3 record on the road during the 2015 season, and the Titans finished last season with 1-7 mark at home.
RB Adrian Peterson looks to defend his 3rd-career rushing title after leading the NFL in 2015 with 1,485 rushing yards. In nine career opening day contests, the 2012 MVP has totaled 854 rushing yards and 10 total touchdowns. Peterson, who led the Vikings with 11 touchdowns last season, has posted 168 yards and 2 touchdowns on 35 carries in his 2 career games against the Titans.
WR Stefon Diggs will play in his first Week 1 contest after not playing until Week 4 during his rookie season. Diggs became the first rookie in team history to lead the club in receptions (52) and receiving yards (720) despite only playing 13 games last season.
Led by Pro Bowlers LB Anthony Barr, DE Everson Griffen and S Harrison Smith, the Vikings defense reaches to take another step forward in 2016. The Vikings defense has improved from 31st in 2013, to 14th in Mike Zimmer's first year as Head Coach, to 13th in total defense last season. The Vikings defense allowed the fifth-fewest points per game (19.3) in the NFL in 2015 and are returning all 11 regular starters in 2016.
NATIONAL TELEVISION: FOX (Channel 9 in the Twin Cities) Play-by-Play: Dick Stockton; Analyst: Chris Spielman; Sideline: Kristina Pink
LOCAL RADIO: KFAN-FM 100.3/KTLK-AM 1130
Play-by-Play: Paul Allen; Analyst: Pete Bercich; Sideline Reporter: Greg Coleman
Pre-Game Show: Mike Mussman – 10 a.m. (CT)
KFAN and KTLK serve as the flagship stations for the 72-station, five-state Vikings Radio Network.
VIKINGS IN THE PRESEASON
*As a franchise, the Vikings hold a 30-24-1 record on opening days and 1-1 under Coach Zimmer.
*K Blair Walsh led the NFL in the 2015 regular season with 34 FGs, one FG shy of tying the most in franchise history. Walsh totaled 135 points, the third most points in a single season in team history.
*S Harrison Smith, who signed a contract extension during the 2016 offseason, earned his first Pro Bowl nod last season and holds the Vikings record for career interception return touchdowns with four on 12 career interceptions.
*Vikings LB Eric Kendricks led the Vikings with 105 tackles, becoming only the second rookie in franchise history to lead the team in tackles (Rip Hawkins, 1961).
*With 52 receptions, WR Stefon Diggs finished third in Vikings history for receptions by a rookie, trailing only Randy Moss (69, 1998) and Percy Harvin (60, 2009). Diggs also became the first rookie in franchise history to lead the team in receptions.
*DE Everson Griffen, who earned his first Pro Bowl selection last season, begins his bid for three consecutive seasons of 10-plus sacks after recording 12 in 2014 and 10.5 in 2015.
*DE Danielle Hunter was second among all rookies with 6.0 sacks last season. Hunter, who turned 21 last October 29, is still the second-youngest player on the Vikings roster (Laquon Treadwell).
*TE Kyle Rudolph enters 2016 just six touchdowns shy of matching Steve Jordan's Vikings team record for touchdowns by a tight end with 28.
*TEs coach Pat Shurmur and OL coach Tony Sparano, both former head coaches in the the NFL, will coach their first game for Minnesota in Week 1 at Tennessee.
*Rookies on the Vikings 53-man roster who could make NFL debut: CB Mackensie Alexander (second round) LB Kentrell Brothers (fifth round), S Jayron Kearse (seventh round), TE David Morgan (sixth round), WR Laquon Treadwell (first round).
*The Vikings opened up against the Houston Oilers at the Metrodome in Week 1 of the 1989 season. The Vikings beat the Oilers, 38-7, in the only matchup between the two franchises in a season opener.
· Titans head coach Mike Mularkey is a former TE for the Minnesota Vikings having played 72 games in 6 seasons (1983-1988) in Minnesota. Mularkey caught 42 passes for 464 yards and 5 TDs as a Viking. Mularkey's 1st coaching job came at NCAA DII Concorida-St. Paul, coaching the offensive line.
· Titans QB Matt Cassel played for the Vikings from 2013-14 totaling 2,323 passing yards, 14 TDs and 13 INTs in 12 games (9 starts). Cassel was the Vikings opening day starter in Mike Zimmers 1st game as a Head Coach in 2014.
· Titans offensive assistant Luke Steckel is the son of former Vikings head coach Les Steckel, who served in the role for only the 1984 season.
· Titans assistant to the strength and conditioning coach Tom Kanavy was the head strength and conditioning coach for the Vikings from 2006-13. LOCAL CONNECTIONS
· Titans DL Karl Klug is a Caledonia, MN native. Klug was named to the Minnesota Vikings All-State team as a senior in 2005. Klug's twin brother played football at Minnesota State, the annual site of Vikings training camp.
· Titans T Taylor Lewan's father, Dave, played college football at the University of Minnesota.
· Vikings S Harrison Smith (Knoxville) and LS Kevin McDermott (Nashville) are the lone Tennessee natives on the Vikings roster.
· WR Cordarrelle Patterson attended the University of Tennessee in 2012. COLLEGE CONNECTIONS
· Vikings CB Captain Munnerlyn played at South Carolina with Titans K Ryan Succop from 2005-08.
· Titans LB Kevin Dodd and Vikings DBs - CB Mackensie Alexander and S Jayron Kearse - played together at Clemson.
· Vikings CB Trae Waynes and Titans T Jack Conklin played together at Michigan State.
· Titans RB Demarco Murray and Vikings QB Sam Bradford were teammates at Oklahoma from 2006-2009. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson was also teammates with them at Oklahoma in 2006 while both Bradford and Murray redshirted that season.
· Vikings DE Brian Robison and Titans LB Brian Orakpo were teammates at Texas, helping lead the Longhorns to the 2005 National Championship Rose Bowl victory of USC. Both Robison and Orakpo played DE at Texas.
· Titans DT Jurrell Casey played with 3 Vikings at USC - TE Rhett Ellison, DE Everson Griffen and T Matt Kalil.
VIKINGS BIG DAYS VS. TITANS
*RB Adrian Peterson registered 1 of his 27 career multi-TD games at Tennessee on 9/28/08, rushing for 2 scores and totaling 80 yards on 18 carries.
*In his only game action of the 2012 season, QB Shaun Hill registered his career-best passer rating of 157.9 (min. 10 attempts) at Tennessee on 9/23/12. Hill entered the game in relief of an injured Matthew Stafford late in the 4th quarter as a member of Detroit Lions. Hill - who led a comeback that eventually fell short, 41-44, in OT - threw for 172 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs on 10-of-13 passing.
*TE Kyle Rudolph, in his lone contest against the Titans, caught 4 passes for 23 yards and a 15-yard TD, 1 of 9 TDs he hauled in during the 2012 campaign.