The 7-5 Tampa Bay Bucs come off their much needed bye week and welcome an inform Vikings side who’re back in the playoff hunt.
Minnesota find themselves with a 6-6 record and back in the playoff race after reeling off 5 wins in their last 6 games. Dalvin Cook has been the spearhead on offense and the talented runner leads the league in both rushing yards per game (113.6) and rushing TD’s (13) but he has been kept scoreless and under 4 yards per carry in his last two games and in three of his last four, and he might be in for another tough day as the Buccaneers run defense is the NFL’s best, leading the league in rushing yards allowed per game (74.2) so, how have the Vikings put points up with their biggest weapon being targeted and stifled by opposing defenses? Up step Kirk Cousins, the much maligned QB has been in a rich vein of form recently, in Minnesota’s last 6 games, Kirk Cousins has thrown 15 TD’s against only 2 INT’s, has thrown for over 300 yards in his last three games (and over 290 in the game before) and the Vikings have won 5 of the 6. Whilst it’s not being spoken about much, there’s not many QB’s playing better than Kirk Cousins right now and rookie pass catcher Justin Jefferson has been arguably the biggest beneficiary of Cousins form in recent weeks with the now OROTY (Offensive Rookie of the Year) candidate posting five (5!) 100+ receiving yard games this season, two of these coming in the last four games as well as 4 TD’s in the Vikings last 3 games and with the Bucs playing the run so well, expect to see Cousins throwing the ball Jefferson’s way a lot. Lucky for Minnesota that their offense is playing well because is a different story when we talk about their defense, especially against the pass where the team rank deep in the bottom half of NFL teams and they’ll have no rest bite here as Tampa have a top ten passing offense.
The Bucs needed their bye week after dropping their last two games and three of their last four and now come in rested for their playoff push. During this below par run the Bucs have had the struggles of Tom Brady have been evident with the multiple time Super Bowl winner and MVP having throw 8 TD’s and 7 INT’s in the last 4 games which when considering the plethora of talent on the offense and some of the decisions and throws which led to the interceptions it’s only right to ask if Brady has finally hit that wall, father time is, after all, undefeated. But this Vikings pass defense gives Brady a perfect platform to once again silence the critics and with the added rest a bye week brings it also brings extra time for teams to game plan against who they’re playing next so I’m expecting to see one of Brady’s better performances of the season. The run defense as mentioned above is the leagues best but what has been surprising is the drop off of their pass defense which has flirted with the top 10 at times this season but after being torched by Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill has found itself outside of the top 20.
I think this game is closer than many expect, the Vikings are a sneaky good football team with an in form offense and riding some winning momentum whilst the opposite is true of the Bucs, but with Tampa having suffered back to back losses they know they need a win and a performance and a home game after a bye week is such a huge advantage especially when your opponent has just had to play an OT game so I’m taking the Bucs in a close one.
As for my best bet I’m looking at Kirk Cousins, the man is in great form and with Dalvin Cook likely to be bottled up but this stifling Bucs run D and with a Vikings defense which gives up points I expect Cousins to have to throw the ball if the Vikings are going to stay in this game, and with his U/O Passing Attempts total set at 33.5 which is a number he’s bettered in 3 of his last 4 games including 40+ attempts in each of his last two outings we’re taking the over here.
And a little value bet to finish, Kirk Cousins has 300+ passing yards and 3 TD’s in each of his last three games and in his only previous game against Tampa, SkyBet are offering 4/1 that he does it again and at that price it’ll be rude of us not to have a little action.
PREDICTION: BUCCANEERS 30 – 27 VIKINGS
BEST BET: Kirk Cousins OVER 33.5 Passing Attempts – 5/6 with SkyBet. 1 point bet.
NEXT BEST: Kirk Cousins 300+ Passing Yards & 3+ TD’s – 4/1 with SkyBet (RequestABet up to 5/1) 0.5 point bet.