Thursday Night Football- Buccaneers vs Vikings Preview
Week 8 kicks off tonight with a highly anticipated NFC clash between the 2-4 Tampa Bat Buccaneers and the 5-2 Minnesota Vikings.
The game is live on NFL Network for American viewers and will also be shown on Sky Sports 1 in Ireland.
Now without further ado, here is my preview of the game.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings
Stadium– Mall of America Field
Kick Off- 7:20 p.m. in Minnesota/1:20 a.m. in Ireland
What to Watch
Vikings Running Game vs Buccaneers Defense
- The Vikings have one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL and it’s easy out why when you look at their weapons on offense. Players like Christian Ponder, Toby Gerhart and Percy Harvin are all capable of carrying the football effectively and that’s without mentioning star running back Adrian Peterson.
- Since returning from injury, Peterson has fully re-gained his crown as the league’s best running back with some terrific performances. Look for the Viking to run the ball often against the Bucs defense tonight.
Vikings Passing Game vs Buccaneers Defense
- They say every second year quarterback goes through a sophomore slump but Vikings starter Christian Ponder is doing the complete opposite in his second season. Ponder has improved his play across the board with his increased pass completion percentage along with passing yards and quarterback rating.
- A big reason for this has been the emergence of wide receiver Percy Harvin who is finally turning his high potential into solid production. Ronde Barber and co. are in for a tough test tonight.
Buccaneers Wide Receivers vs Vikings Cornerbacks
- Much of the Buccaneers offensive success is dependent on the play of their starting wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. Whilst Jackson is thriving in his role as a Buccaneer, Williams has seen a decline in his production and will look to improve his play in the second half of the season.
- The Vikings boast a solid tandem of their own at the cornerback position with Antoine Winfield and Chris Cook. This will definitely a key battle to watch and I give a slight edge to Winfield/Cook.
Who to Watch
Vincent Jackson- Wide Receiver- Buccaneers
- Vincent Jackson has usually been near the top of the list in terms of yards per reception and that has continued since he joined the Bucs. Through the first six games, he has averaged more than 20 yards a catch along with 5 receiving touchdowns.
- Jackson is coming off a franchise record 216 receiving yards in their last game vs the New Orleans Saints. He continues to be the only reliable target for quarterback Josh Freeman and the Bucs offense.
Adrian Peterson- Running Back- Vikings
- Peterson has had a difficult time over the last few seasons dealing with injury concerns and question marks over his game. Now back in the starting lineup, he has silenced his critics with providing solid production and veteran for a franchise looking to return to the Playoffs after a two-year drought.
- Although listed as probable for the game with an ankle injury, he is expected to play. Despite not being back to 100%, #28 will definitely be a factor for the Vikings offense for the rest of the season.
Percy Harvin- Wide Receiver- Vikings
- It seems as though we’ve got another case of the typical “Show me the Money” attitude from Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin. After showing a steady increase in production in each of his three seasons, he is now putting on some impressive performances in the hopes of earning a new contract.
- Just like Peterson, Harvin is listed as probable on the injury report (knee injury) but is expected to play. Look for him to make an impact at running back, receiver and return man for the Vikings tonight.
This game will come down to which promising young quarterback can step up and make an impact for their team.
If this turns out to be the case, I’ll back the in-form Christian Ponder to put on a big performance and lead the Vikings to a win.
Buccaneers 13 Vikings 21
So that’s your preview and prediction, hope everyone enjoys the big game.