Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) at Minnesota Vikings (5-2)
The Buccaneers are bi-polar. They’re clearly an amazing football team, but they don’t know how to put it all together at the moment. They’re like a comedian with a hilarious joke, only they don’t know how to properly deliver it.
Josh Freeman has hushed his critics for two straight weeks, and had it not been for a bizarre circumstance at the end of the game, he would have put up two straight convincing wins. But last week’s lost wasn’t all that convincing, which is why this matchup against a borderline Vikings team is going to be interesting.
Like the Buccaneers are on that thin line between being bad and being good, despite a 5-2 record the Vikings are right there with Tampa. They’ve had great wins against the 49ers — well the 49ers, but strange losses to the Colts and Redskins. This Vikings team, like the Bucs, is clearly talented, but they are lucking their way into wins the way the 2010 Buccaneers did.
The Bucs lucked their way into a win the last time these teams met, scoring 24 unanswered points to win 24-20 last September, and they’ll need much more than that this time. Freeman is hot right now, and the Vikings secondary is suspect, and if he plays it smart, he could be in for a big week.
Minnesota’s running game with Adrian Peterson is one of the best, and their offensive line is growing better, and the Bucs need to be careful how they play the rush. Peterson can burn the best of defensive lines, and the Bucs are only in their infancy. They didn’t allow AP AD to breakout a huge run last time they met, but all it takes is one big run to set the Bucs back. They played catchup the whole second half against the Saints and although they might be able to pull it off this week, it’s best to nip that problem right now.
Both of these teams are equal, despite their records. The Buccaneers can win this game and it will be a serious notch on their belt, but it’s also a game Tampa can lose if they play it fast and loose.
Location: Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, MN
Nat’l TV: NFL Network
Bucs TV: N/A
Away TV: N/A
Announcers: Brad Nessler/Mike Mayock
Live Stream: NFL Live Stream
Radio: WDAE 620AM (Tampa), KFXN 100.3FM(Minnesota)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 225 (Bucs Feed), Sirius 226 (Vikings Feed)
Line: Vikings by 7
Key Matchup: Bucs Run Defense vs. Adrian Peterson
Last time Peterson met the Bucs defense, he was still running on his original knee and the Bucs were making things up as they went. Turns out, that was enough to stifle Peterson on an impressive afternoon as the Bucs stuffed him in the second half and never allowed one of his patent high step runs to the endzone. Peterson is clearly a different runner then he was then, but that’s not in a bad way. The Buccaneers have prided themselves with a stout run defense so far this year, and the week they get perhaps the greatest runner in the game today as a test.
Last Week: Buccaneers lost to Saints 35-28, Vikings beat Cardinals 21-14
Last Meeting: September 18, 2011– Buccaneers 24, Vikings 20
Series History (Since 2001): Bucs lead series 5-1
Key Bucs Storyline: Can Josh Freeman continue the hot streak he’s on, and turn it into a win?
Opposing View: Will Christian Ponder conquer his woes and lead the Vikings to a 6-2 start?
Prediction: Bucs 31, Vikings 28