Week 14 Preview: Minnesota Vikings vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 14 Preview: Minnesota Vikings vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

by December 12, 2020 0 comments

The Minnesota Vikings (6-6) travel down to the Sunshine State to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5). The Vikings are hoping to carry their post-bye-week momentum into one of their biggest games of the year if they want to solidify their playoff odds. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers hope to regain their footing after stumbling into their Week 13 bye, losing three of their last four games.

For the Vikings, Kirk Cousins has caught on fire at the right time this season. In the past four games, the veteran quarterback has thrown for a 70 percent completion percentage, 1,218 yards, and 11 touchdowns to just two interceptions. Of course, this has been with the help of first-round draft pick Justin Jefferson. The rookie has caught 27 passes for 412 yards in the same stretch. The passing offense has found its flow just in time to take on the 22nd ranked passing defense in the Buccaneers. But, Cousins and Jefferson’s connection will have to continue to be on point this weekend as running back Dalvin Cook will be up for a tough matchup against a top-5 Bucs run defense. Still, the Pro Bowl back has made many defenses look silly this season. Cook has totaled 1,250 rushing yards and is averaging five yards per carry.

Minnesota’s defense, however, will also have to step up to the challenge. Yannick Ngakoue has put up five sacks this season and leads a Vikings defense that ranks 21st in getting the quarterback on the ground. The Vikings rank even worse in pressure rating at just 19.5 percent, good for 28th in the NFL. The best way to slow down Tom Brady is not to let him sit back and throw all day, so players like Ngakoue and Ifeadi Odenigbo are going to have to rise to the challenge. Especially since the Vikings’ pass offense currently ranks 26th in the NFL. The one positive for this defense is turnovers. Safety Harrison Smith currently leads the team with four interceptions.

Hopefully, for Tampa Bay, this bye week has allowed them to regather, game plan, and scheme their offense to fit Brady’s playstyle better. While the Bucs did put up a 46-point performance against the Carolina Panthers in Week 10, the other three games over the past month have been stagnant. They featured eight turnovers, a nearly non-existent run offense, and many passing yards left on the field. According to Pro Football Reference, Brady has passed for 3,300 yards compared to a whopping 4,158 yards, an 858-yard difference. Wideouts Mike Evans and hopefully Chris Godwin, who is currently questionable, can re-establish a stable connection with Brady this week. Evans currently leads the Bucs in receiving yards (613) and touchdowns (11).

Game Info

Date: December 13th, 2020

Start time: 1:00 P.M. EST

Location: Tampa Bay, Florida

Stadium: Raymond James Stadium

TV Info: FOX

Betting Odds Sponsored by Jazz Sportsbook 

Point Spread: MIN +6.5 (-110) | TB -6.5 (-110)

Moneyline: MIN +250 | TB -325

Over/Under: O 53 (-110)|U 53 (-110)

While the books favor Tampa Bay in this one, the Vikings certainly are not an easy opponent right now. This game likely will come down to less than a touchdown. Don’t expect either of these teams to run away with this one, so take Minnesota +6.5. Plus, Minnesota is 4-1 as an underdog, 3-1 as a road underdog, and 4-0 when facing teams winning more than 55 percent of their games against the spread. 

While one might want this to turn into a fireworks show, it likely won’t. 53 is a relatively large number. With the inconsistencies as of late with Tampa and a pass-reliant Vikings offense, this game will probably come up short of that mark. Bettors should feel much safer taking the under vs. the over for this game.

Prediction 

Minnesota comes out early and establishes a first-half lead that sees them go into halftime up a score, winning 14-7. Cousins and Jefferson hook up for a pair of touchdowns while Cook carries his team down the field throughout the first half. The Bucs defense is surprised by the pass offense but shows some life against the run late in the half.

However, Brady shows up for the second half tossing three more touchdown passes to Evans and Godwin, carrying his team to victory in a close matchup. 

Final Score: Minnesota 24, Tampa Bay 28

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Main Image Credit: 

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