It might seem crass to say this, but while the Vikings defense is their strength, the offense is their weakness.
Especially now that starting quarterback Sam Bradford has been ruled out with a knee problem which just won’t go away.
Their misfortune is the Buccaneers’ good fortune, especially considering Alexander has been ruled out and Chris Baker doesn’t look good as he fights of the flu.
Gerald McCoy has made an appearance on the Bucs injury report with an ankle issue, Brent Grimes is on there with a shoulder, and pass rushing specialist Jacquies Smith is also still on the list with an illness of his own.
Not a good recipe to beat any offense, even one saddled with Case Keenum as their starting quarterback.
And what about Keenum? Sure, he’s 0-3 against the Buccaneers in his career, but do we really think it was Keenum who did the winning in those games?
I could do a whole separate post about just that, so we won’t dive too deeply here.
Back to weaknesses. Without Bradford, Minnesota has a quarterback who just didn’t look comfortable one week ago.
Now, this week is different. For one, the team is at home, so at least most of the fans will be hoping Keenum does well. Secondly, he’s had the full week to learn from his first experience on the regular season field in 2017, and he’s gotten starter reps at practice.
These things will combine to make him a much more comfortable quarterback for sure, I don’t need to interview him to know that.
Still though, this is a problem for Minnesota, which leads to our next weakness. The running game.
Ok, before you snap my digital head off, this isn’t an indictment against Dalvin Cook.
As a rookie, he currently sits as the NFL’s fifth-leading rusher after two weeks. Which is great. However, he’s ranked this high because of his Week 1 performance, and in spite of his Week 2 showing.
Against the Saints – ahem – friendly defense, Cook ripped off 127-yards rushing. Versus the Steelers in Week 2, who didn’t have to worry about Bradford, he netted 64-yards on 12 carries.
Good yards per carry averages, but with limited work due to the Vikings playing from behind, the run game isn’t something the team can use to get back into the game once they’re out of it.
The final weakness I want to get into today is third-down conversions.
On the year to this point, the team is sitting at a 48% conversion rate (14/29), which isn’t terrible.
Gaining a first on third-down half the time should keep you in most games. However, again the difference is in the weeks.
Week 1, Minnesota converted on all but five of their conversion opportunities. In Week 2, they missed ten of them.
15 times the Vikings had to snap the ball on third down, and only five times did they come away with a fresh set of downs.