October 24, 2012
The Buccaneers don’t look like much if you judge them by their 2-4 record, but their offense has actually come to life over the past two weeks. During that span, quarterback Josh Freeman has gone off for 758 passing yards, six touchdowns, and just one interception. He’s been aided by number one wide receiver Vincent Jackson in the process, who has hauled in 11 catches for an insane 282 yards and three touchdowns over the same span.
Needless to say, the lethargic passing game that arguably was holding this Tampa offense back earlier in the season has been awakened. And going up against an at times sketchy Minnesota pass defense in week eight might give them the edge they need.
However, as good as that matchup might appear on paper, it’s important to note that this Vikings team is no slouch on defense. They’ve only given up more than 23 points in one game all season, and have only lost two contests on the year.
On the flip-side, despite a 2-4 mark, the Buccaneers have actually been in every game they’ve played, and haven’t lost a single game by more than a touchdown.
If you’re trying to guess what type of game you’re going to see on Thursday night, look no further than these two run defenses. Tampa Bay is flat-out stifling opposing run defenses, as they rank third in the league by giving up just over 76 yards per game. They have a tough test against Adrian Peterson this week, who looks to be all the way back from last season’s torn acl after a shackling of the Arizona Cardinals last week week. Regardless, they’ve proven to be quite formidable in that department so far this season, and on paper should prevent the Vikings from (pun not intended) running away with this one.
While running lanes may not be easy to find for either side, this game does project to have some big plays in the passing game. Tampa Bay’s Vincent Jackson isn’t 100% but should still be counted on to make a few plays, although in smaller doses, while Minnesota’s passing game has the potential to absolutely blow up against a shaky Buccaneers pass defense that was getting torched on a weekly basis – even before star corner Aqib Talib began serving his four-game suspension.
Overall, these are two evenly matched teams that should produce a nail-biter that could very well come down to the final plays. I’m taking Minnesota due to them being at home and the fact that their defense can stop the opposition just as effectively (if not more so) than the Buccaneers can. I do trust Josh Freeman a bit more than I trust Christian Ponder, but I have more faith in Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin in their own backyard than I do in any Buccaneers players in any setting.
Final verdict for Thursday night’s game: Vikings 31, Buccaneers 27