The NFL season is officially in full swing, and fans are anticipating exciting matchups every week. This week, your Minnesota Vikings are taking on the Tom Brady-less Tampa Bay Buccaneers at US Bank Stadium. Let’s take a look at some either favorable matchups for your Vikings, and some maybe not so favorable matchups for the team.
Vikings Wide Receivers vs. TB Defensive Backs - The Vikings have one of the deepest wide receiving rooms in all of the NFL. Leading with Justin Jefferson, the arguably best receiver in the league, is poised for another big season and it all starts against this Tampa Bay secondary. Tampa has a decent defensive backs unit with Dean at corner, and the two safeties in Winfield Jr, and Neal. Although they have an experienced unit in their defensive backfield, they are no match for Cousins and company.
Baker Mayfield is the now starting quarterback for the Bucs this season after Tom Brady’s second retirement. Mayfield is taking over a team with a nice receiver tandem in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but can Baker distribute the ball under duress against an aggressive defense lead by coordinator Brian Flores is the question. It just may be too much to ask for the former first overall pick; we should expect to allow less than 20 points.
Hunter vs. Tampa’s Right Tackle Goedeke - With a current PFF grade of 46.7, Goedeke will be in for a long day against the Vikings best pass rusher in Danielle Hunter. Fresh off of a new contract and a strong camp, Hunter should have a field day against Goedeke and Baker Mayfield. I could see a 2 plus sack day for Danielle.
Tampa Bay Defensive Tackles vs. Vikings Interior Offensive Line - Vita Vea and rookie defensive tackle Calijah Kancey pair up to be a formidable duo on the front of the Bucs defensive unit. Vita Vea is a bull rush specialist who can also overpower double teams and disrupt the run game with ease. Kancey is a rookie from Pitt who has been compared to another Pitt Panther and current great, Aaron Donald. Those are some big shoes to fill but Kancey has similar athletic traits and abilities as the future hall of famer he’s compared to, and going up against Bradbury and Ingram, he could be in for a big first NFL game.
Rachaad White vs. Run Defense - Tampa Bay has also parted ways with veteran running back Leonard Fournette and it is now the Rachaad White show. White is a smaller in stature back but don’t let his size fool you. White has the ability to use his combination of power, speed, and agility to run either up the middle or outside of the tackles. He is also a capable pass catcher who could see some checkdown work against a blitzing Vikings defense. If the Vikings aren’t careful, White could single-handedly keep them in a close game.
Mike Evans vs. Vikings Young Corner Backs - Mike Evans is gunning for his one-hundredth straight 1,000-yard receiving season in a row. With Byron Murphy presumably following around slot receiver Chris Godwin, it will be up to either second-year corner Akayleb Evans and Andrew Booth Jr, or rookie Mekhi Blackmon. Mike Evans’ ability to jump out of the stadium, and his reliable hands, it will be a tough task no matter who is guarding him. If the Vikings can’t contain him, Mike Evans is another guy who could single-handedly keep them in a close game.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Minnesota Vikings matchup promises to be an exciting season opener in what could be a tightly contested battle. With two young teams and a lot of unknowns on both teams, this game could come down to the wire. Key matchups in the trenches and the strategies employed by both coaching staffs will be crucial in deciding who wins this game. Both teams' fans can look forward to an exciting showdown that may have some playoff implications down the line. Get ready for a thrilling Sunday of football when these two teams kick off the season opener.