Nothing too special about tonight’s game. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) meet the Minnesota Vikings (5-2) in game that means little more than the win/loss each team will receive at the end of the contest. That being said, every win is important in the NFL, so allow me to briefly analyze this matchup.
The Buccaneer offense will be met with the hard-nosed Vikings’ defense, creating an interesting matchup. The Buccaneers need to establish the run early, and return to it often. RB Doug Martin, 4.1 YPC this season, has been great at keeping the Tampa offense moving. I see that continuing tonight with Martin seeing 15-20 carries and putting up 50-70 yards rushing. His time-share back-up, RB LaGarrette Blount, will probably see 5-7 carries as well. QB Josh Freeman has been looking really good as of late, so I don’t see why he couldn’t put up numbers in the area of 250 yds, 2 TDs and 1 INT. Expect DE Jared Allen to have a mediocre night, as he will be forced to stay honest at containing runs off the edge rather than being able to tee-off on the passer. Neither the Bucs offense nor the Vikings defense has a significant edge. Expect a pretty standard NFL output of 21 points from the Tampa Bay offense tonight.
On the other side of the ball, the sloppy Viking offense (see: Week 7 vs. Arizona) is up against the very, very poor Tampa Bay defense. Despite his struggles through the last few weeks, QB Christian Ponder will have a resurgent game tonight against a lackluster defense that’s missing one of its most important pieces, CB Aqib Talib (suspended). WR Percy Harvin should see his fair share of targets, and it’s hard not to see Harvin breaking out any game-changing plays tonight – whether it’s on offense or special teams. Dominant DT Gerald McCoy will have a good game as he lays the foundation for stopping the Adrian Peterson rushing machine and gets pressure on the young Ponder. I think Minnesota will put up impressive offensive numbers tonight: 27 points perhaps.
But don’t entirely discount the Bucs. Although I think Minnesota has the best chance at winning tonight, the Bucs shouldn’t be far behind; they’ll make it a game for sure. A lucky interception/return TD and this game could flip in favor of the Bucs. Any given sunday, right?
Bold prediction: Vikings win with consistent rushing from Peterson and a return TD from Harvin, 27-21.
Computer Prediction by DynamicPicks:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Minnesota Vikings
Projected win: Minnesota, 62.0% – INCORRECT
Projected ATS win: Tampa Bay +7, 58.8% – CORRECT
Avoid the straight-up. Take TB +7 if you can still find it; most lines have moved TB down to +6.5/+6.