Buccaneers vs Vikings: Divisional History and Recent Meetings
The Minnesota Vikings will open the 2023 season with a home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. According to NFL odds for Week 1, this game is tied for the second-highest point spread. The Buccaneers are expected to have a sharp decline after Tom Brady retired. In fact, they are the sportsbook’s last choice to win the NFC South. Meanwhile, the Vikings are hoping for improvements on defense following a disappointing postseason.
The NFC South and the NFC North will battle in the upcoming season. This gives Tampa Bay a chance to face its old divisional rivals. The Bucs made their debut in 1976 and were a part of the AFC West. A year later, Tampa Bay relocated to the NFC Central, which is now known as the NFC North. The Buccaneers annually battled against the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, and Vikings twice per season.
Tampa Bay joined the NFC South in 2002 and has taken a trip down memory lane with Minnesota on several occasions since leaving the division. Week 1 will be the ninth meeting between the Buccaneers and Vikings since 2002. Tampa Bay has gone 6-2 during the span, but Minnesota is 2-1 in the last three meetings that date back to 2014.
The Bucs are also 4-2 against the spread (ATS) in the last six meetings. The over/under is split at 3-3 over the previous six clashes. Three of the last four matchups have also been decided by double digits. With the Vikings favored by a touchdown, we could see this trend continue.
Key Factors and Player Performance in the Matchup
When betting on NFL odds, it’s important to know how players have performed in the matchup. The last meeting was in the 2020 season, which Tampa Bay won 26-14. This was Brady’s first season in the sunshine state, which ended with a Super Bowl ring. Both teams are vastly different heading into the 2023 season.
The Buccaneers will start Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask, who has one career start. Quarterback play looks like a major problem, which is primarily why expectations are so low.
In fact, NFL lines have Tampa Bay’s projected win total at 6½. The Bucs’ backfield also looks completely different. Second-year running back Rachaad White is taking over the starting role after Leonard Fournette was released. The receiving corps is still led by Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Evans led the team with 56 yards in the 2020 matchup.
Tampa Bay’s defense has also declined but it is led by the same key contributors, like linebackers Devin White and Lavonte David and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. Winfield shined in the 2020 matchup with the Vikings, making 12 tackles and one sack. He has only gotten better with one Pro Bowl appearance.
Defensive Decline and Potential for High-Scoring Game
The Vikings look much different for this meeting. Wide receiver Justin Jefferson was in his rookie season in 2020. He is no longer a first-year player trying to find his way. Jefferson is the best wideout in the league and the reigning Offensive Player of the Year. He was held to 39 yards in the last matchup. Holding Jefferson to that total again is extremely unlikely.
Week 1 will also be the debut of rookie receiver Jordan Addison, who is expected to contend for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Quarterback Kirk Cousins enters an important season that could decide his future. Minnesota has yet to find great postseason success with the veteran signal-caller. Cousins totaled 225 passing yards, one touchdown, and one fumble in the 2020 collision.
Most importantly, the Vikings’ offensive line is much improved compared to the last matchup. The Bucs’ defensive line dominated in 2020 with six sacks. Minnesota’s O-line has made strides led by left tackle Christian Darrisaw. The Vikings’ defense has also declined with veteran players like safety Harrison Smith exiting their prime.
With both defenses declining since 2020, could we see more points? The previous matchup went under with a combined total of 40. Las Vegas odds have Week 1’s projected total in the mid-40s, making the over more likely.
There will be plenty of storylines to follow in this matchup. The Buccaneers’ quarterback play and the Vikings’ defense look like the biggest keys to watch. Tampa Bay enters a new era with Brady, and Minnesota has revamped its secondary, hoping for improvement.