Thursday Night Football Preview: Buccaneers vs. Vikings
Week eight is here so lets get it kicked off right with the Gridiron Experts Thursday night football preview. Two young, hard-hitting teams step into the ring this week to lay the smack down. In one corner we have the Buccaneers coming off of a tough loss to the Saints and looking to bounce back to keep their season alive. In the other corner the Vikings are waiting. Fresh off of a win over the Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota will be looking to add another win to their division leading 5-2 record.
Josh Freeman has been fantasy football goodness the last two weeks, putting up 748 yards and six touchdowns. He will be going up against the Vikings 11th ranked passing defense, so you might want to temper expectations for him this week. After week seven, it’s safe to say that Doug Martin is clearly the number one running back in Tampa Bay. His carries had been declining as well as Legarrette Blount starting to get more touches. The Vikings rank 12th against the run, but I would start Martin with confidence.Vincent Jackson is coming off of a career game in week seven. He continues to be inconsistent though as he goes off literally every other game. This is his “other” game, not to mention he has been limited in practice with a calf injury . Mike Williams has come back with a vengeance this season after an awful 2011. He is a solid number two wide receiver in all leagues. Tiquan Underwood is the Tampa Bay sleeper of the week for deep leagues or teams suffering from bye week hell. He ranks fifth on the team in receptions, and could break off a huge gain or two and maybe a touchdown if either Williams or Jackson are double teamed.
Christian Ponder had one of the worst quarterback weeks in the NFL, only to be outdone by Matt Cassel(yes, he even performs poorly on the bye week and loses his starting job). Ponder threw for only 58 yards on a mere 17 attempts yet somehow still came away with the victory. The Bucs have a much more explosive offense than the Arizona Cardinals do. Look for Ponder to return to form and have a solid fantasy game against the Bucs. Adrian Peterson is probable with a calf injury but should be good to go. A tough match-up against the Tampa Bay on paper as they are ranked 3rd in the NFL against the run. Don’t let that scare you away as you should start A.P. as you would any other week. Percy Harvin continues to dominate in every game and is on track to become the number one fantasy receiver come end of season. He should continue this against the Bucs. Kyle Rudolph has been up and down, almost mirroring Ponder’s performances. Continue to start him with confidence unless you have a Rob Gronkowski or Antonio Gates
Prediction: This should be a relatively close game with some highlight plays as both teams have some big time play makers. Tampa Bay will be looking to keep a balanced offense using Doug Martin as much as possible, while the Vikings will rely heavily on Adrian Peterson to lead the charge. The Minnesota defense will be the deciding factor, though, as they will be too much for the Bucs to handle.
Vikings 17 Buccaneers 12