Week 8 is upon us which means the season is almost half over! Let’s take a look around the NFC North and at the matchups to come.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) at Minnesota Vikings (5-2)
This game kicks off NFL’s week 8 as the Thursday night matchup. It’s a rare meeting between these two teams since the Bucs left the old NFC Central and became part of the NFC South. Tampa has won the last three with the most recent being last season.
Minnesota comes in a surprising 5-2. They beat the Arizona Cardinals behind a good defensive performance and with the continued contribution of RB Adrian Peterson. Tampa had seemingly pulled off a last-second TD by QB Josh Freeman for the win over the New Orleans Saints but the catch was later ruled invalid. Tampa dropped to 2-4.
Anytime a team is working on a short week, it adds an additional challenge for teams to prepare and for players to get past the bumps and bruises from the week prior. Both teams are fortunate that they are not dealing with many health issues at the moment.
The Vikings have been winning with defense this season. They had nine sacks and an interception returned for a touchdown this past Sunday by their top rookie S Harrison Smith. And having struggled offensively over the past few weeks, Minnesota was able to muster two scores on a vintage run by Peterson and a Christian Ponder pass to Percy Harvin. Harvin leads the NFL with 53 catches. The Vikings lethargic offense may get a jumpstart this week as they face a Tampa defense that ranks 25th overall.
Tampa has had a hard time keeping up with their opposition this year, largely due to the 329 passing yards they are giving up each week. If Minnesota’s struggles in the passing game continue and they go heavy in the run game, it may benefit the Tampa defense as they are surrendering just 76 yards/game on the ground. Of course, they are facing the elite Adrian Peterson and a Vikings ground attack that is averaging just over 130 yards/game. How Tampa counters the Viking rush attack will be a key in this game.
The Vikings are winning games and are at home on a short week. I give them the edge.