Tampa Bay had their most impressive win the week following their bye. The well rested Bucs trounced the Chiefs by a score of 38-10. They won’t have the pleasure of lengthy rest time before traveling to face a talented Minnesota team. The Vikings have their own concerns in the health department.
Several key players will look to fight through their injuries, including Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, Christian Ponder, Antoine Winfield, Jerome Simpson, and Harrison Smith. Speaking of Smith, he may start this game with his former college teammate and fellow rookie, Robert Blanton starting right next to him. This is due to the fact that Mistral Raymond is out for this Thursday night battle. If two rookies in the secondary wasn’t enough, we could also see Josh Robinson get a heavier workload if Winfield can’t go or finish the game.
While the Bucs don’t have the injury concerns of the Vikings, they are the ones traveling this week and that has meant doom for most of the visiting teams on Thursday Night Football this year. Tampa Bay is not only concerned in traveling on Thursday nights, they are 0-2 on the road in 2012, despite the day the games were played. They’ve lost those two games by an average of 6.5 points…what’s the spread again? Meanwhile, the Vikings are 4-0 when playing at home in 2012. In those 4 games the Vikings are allowing an average of 14.25 points and scoring an average of 25.25 points.
Tampa Bay has struggled to force pressure this season and has allowed offenses to pick apart their secondary, which is ranked 31st in the NFL. The defense has only tallied 8 sacks in 6 games and 7 of those 8 have come from two players (Gerald McCoy & Michael Bennett). This secondary will face the #1 receiver in the NFL in yards after catch, Percy Harvin.
The Bucs have been stout against the rush, but will have their hands filled with Adrian Peterson and a quarterback that makes the safe throws to his primary target. Ponder is completing 79% of his passes thrown to Harvin. Josh Freeman, on the other hand, is only completing 45% of his passes thrown to his #1 target, Vincent Jackson. The Bucs have lived off the big pass plays. Their top 3 receivers are all averaging over 18 yards a catch, Vincent Jackson – 21.7 avg, Mike Williams – 19.4, and Tiquan Underwood – 18.6.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4-0) @ Minnesota Vikings (5-2-0) - 6.5
The Vikings defense, which has 22 sacks on the year, should force Josh Freeman into some bad decisions and if the youthful secondary of Minnesota can prevent the big pass plays, Minnesota will cover the -6.5 points. Happy Wagering and hopefully more treats than tricks will come from these Thursday night games.
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