(Photo Credit: buccaneers.com)
The Minnesota Vikings will present a much bigger challenge for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers than their first opponent the hapless Chicago Bears did.
The Vikings have a pair of outstanding wide receivers in Stefan Diggs and Adam Theilan. They have 321 receiving yards and two touchdowns between this already in the young campaign. Dalvin Cook has hit the ground running literally and taken the league by storm having two solid performances under his belt already. The Vikings Defense is fairly stout against the run only giving up an average of 81 yards through two games. Their pass defense anchored by corner Xavier Rhodes is allowing an average of 258.5 yards per game. The Vikings have given up 22.5 points per game so far which is well above the league average. I expect the Buccaneers to be able to throw the ball all over the field.
The Buccaneers in their first game of the season forced four turnovers and only allowed a single touchdown in garbage time after most of the starters had been taken out. The Buccaneers will matchup Vernon Hargreaves and Brent Grimes against the Vikings wide receivers. How the Bucs corners perform could be a key difference maker. The front seven of the Buccaneers did a fantastic job of bottling up both Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. They only allowed 20 total rushing yards total combined. They will look to continue that success against the Vikings Dalvin Cook. The biggest wild card will be DeSean Jackson and if he can beat the Vikings deep. With Mike Evans being matched up against Rhodes the burden of the Bucs passing game success could fall on DeSean’s shoulders.
Prediction Buccaneers 28 Vikings 13
Sean Eck @Sean_Eck (Buccaneers lead writer)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sets sail north to battle another NFC North opponent in consecutive weeks. The Vikings are 1-0 at home with a dominating win over the New Orleans Saints. They will look to go 2-0 against the NFC South at U.S Bank Stadium.
In that game, the duo of Qb Sam Bradford and the rookie sensation, RB Dalvin Cook, had standout performances. Sam Bradford has been ruled out with knee pain yet again that puts enormous pressure on Cook to carry the load. The Bucs defense is looking to stop the run first and is very stout against outside run where Cook loves to attack.
The matchup that everyone is looking forward to seeing is wide receiver Mike Evans up against cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes physical play will prove costly because Evans feasts on cornerbacks that play physical at the line of scrimmage.
Tampa Bay will use Evans in critical situations. There will be a focus on a balanced attack to wear down the Vikings excellent defense. They will get a heavy dosage of the run game coupled with play-action passes to Desean Jackson and the TE duo of Cameron Brate and OJ Howard.
The Vikings are no pushover opponent, but the Bucs will win.
Prediction Buccaneers 27 Vikings 16
Rod Thurman, contributor for Pro Football Spot
After an impressive win at home in week two, the Buccaneer can capitalize on a Bradfordless Vikings team. Bradford started the season with a solid game in week one. WIth Bradford sidelined this week, Case Keenum will be taking snaps and trying to beat an aggressive Bucs defense that only allowed 20 total rushing yards against the Bears.
Rookie Linebacker Kendall Beckwith will be the Buccaneers starting Mike Linebacker this week. Kwon Alexander is sidelined with a hamstring injury. If Beckwith can stay disciplined and keep the defense in the correct formations, the Buccaneers should have no problem stopping rookie running back Dalvin Cook.
Mike Evans will be facing Xavier Rhodes most of the day and will be his usual physical self. With the Vikings defense having to pull an extra defender to cover Jackson, Evans should have a 75 yard or more game with a touchdown or two.
Prediction: Buccaneers 35 Vikings 17
Philip Schwegler, Contributor Pro Football Spot
Vikings are coming off a loss without Sam Bradford. He is out again. Case Keenum starts again.
For the Vikings to win they need big games from Dalvin Cook and the defense. This is a winnable game, but it won’t be easy. Even with a good defense, the Buccaneers have some good weapons on offense. They will not explode but do enough to win.
Prediction Vikings 16 Buccaneers 20
Ali Siddiqui, Contributor Pro Football Spot
With the news that Sam Bradford is out for a second game, it will be another tough afternoon for the Vikings offense. Dalvin Cook will be relied on to do the work once again, with Case Keenum not confident in the pocket, and if the offensive line does not hold up like last week, it will be made even tougher.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Vikings chief shot at winning comes down to shutting down the Jameis Winston and Mike Evans partnership. Like with AB last week, Xavier Rhodes will have a tough job to do on Sunday afternoon.
All in all, I think the Buccaneers will take this one with the offensive issues that Minnesota have. Bucs to win 24-10.
Prediction Vikings 10 Buccaneers 24
Matt Coles, Contributor Pro Football Spot