Friday Football Feast: Bucs vs. Vikings
By Josh Hill
The Bucs defense did what it could last week against the Lions given they were out on the field way more than they should have been. hopefully they get some rest this week in both the lead up and during the game, because they’ll need it. Adrian Peterson is not to be taken lightly; the $100 million man went over that last week and had it not been for some behind the line tackles, would have officially finished there. The Bucs allowed 72 yards on 21 carries to Jahvid Best last week, most of which came in situations were the Lions were running out the clock.
Adrian Peterson isn’t designed to do that. What he does is stick it your face and flow you over.
The Bucs have faced Peterson once, and granted it wasn’t with this squad, it wasn’t a fun day to go against him. This week, AP/AD(Adrian Peterson All Day as he’s known here) is more matured, and less likely to give a defense chances to overcome his presence. He is the heart, soul, grit and determination of not just the Vikings offense but the whole organization. He’s not as likely to fumble as he once was and is more likely to get the ball in just about every situation.
However, his power is the teams weakness. Having a guy like Peterson means you are going to run the rock 20-30 times a game no matter what. That’s the philosophy of the Vikings offense, or at least it seems that way: we’re going to run AP, you have to stop him. Despite a strong first week showing for Peterson, the Vikings still lost a game they led by two possessions at one point. The Buccaneers D-line stopped the running game last week and was failed by the secondary. This week it will be on them to power the defense and if they let Peterson loose, the Vikings get swagger and when the talent they have sleeping on that team is awakened by AP’s swagger, the Bucs are staring at 0-2.
Which brings us to the Vikings receiving corps and their quarterback for hire Donovan McNabb. The Bucs ans their fans are no strangers to what the McNabb of yesteryear can do with no-name receivers. However he failed in his twilight Eagles years and was silent with the Redskins. He’s hungry for a rebirth and it would make a satisfying and symbolic story-line if he resurrected himself against the Bucs, a team against which he had plenty of success. However he’s no at 100 percent and only threw 37 yards last week. His main go-to guys are Bernard Berrian who was not welcome last season in Minnesota it seemed, and as soon as Sidney Rice split to Seattle this offseason, he became the guy by necessity, not by choice. Micheal Jenkins was also a necessity signing out of desperation and both can be handled.
Percy Harvin is the one wild card that can burn you or be a non-factor. His return game will surely elicit and demand proper attention, but his receiving game can be held in check with some effort. Again, he’s a slot man like Wes Welker who is more of a Reggie Bush talent. Put E.J. Biggers on him and that should do the trick.
The key to stopping Minnesota has and always will be stopping Adrian Peterson first. After that, the pressure will be on the Vikings to beat you in other ways that they just don’t possess. Gerald McCoy, Brain Price, Adrian Clayborn, and the rest of the line must stop AP/AD, the $100 million man, if they defense is to succeed and the Bucs are to win.
The Bucs false started in Week 1. I don’t personally believe that we should take their performance there as an overall preview of what the season holds. That being said — Week 1 shouldn’t be taken lightly at all. Call it a mulligan because everyone with the exception of the Carolina Panthers lost in the NFC South and sit on even record ground. The Bucs are blessed with a re-do this week as all other NFC South teams have tough opponents and may repeat their first week errors. The Saints get the Bears, the Panthers get the Packers and the Falcons get the Eagles. All of those defesnive opponents have the potential to eat the NFC South alive.
The Bucs get the Vikings who are sub-par to all those opponents. Had they won week 1, it would be a pretty nice start, but that’s not the case. Tampa can partially undo the mistake of last week and must stop Adrian Peterson to do so. After that is accomplished, Josh Freeman needs to establish a running game that sees LaGarrette Blount get more than 5 carries. After that, the passing game should click and the Bucs should win. Let us not soon forget however, what happens when these things don’t happen. The Vikings aren’t a gimme, and the Metrodome is not a quiet place, especially for a Vikings home opener which Sunday is. Tampa must be on the top of their game if they’d like to avoid an 0-2 start to 2011.
Prediction: Bucs 28, Vikings 24