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What to Look For – Buccaneers vs. Vikings

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers head to Prince’s home in Minneapolis to take on the Vikings. Can the Bucs party like it’s 1999 or will the Vikings have purple reign?

The Numbers

Records: Tampa Bay 1-0, Minnesota 1-1

Game Time/Network: 1 pm EST, FOX, Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman.

Spread: Tampa Bay -2

Series: Minnesota leads the all-time series 32-22


Tampa Bay – Offense (19th overall, 11th rushing, 20th passing, 7th in scoring), Defense (14th overall, 1st vs. the run, 28th vs. the pass, 3rd in scoring)

Minnesota – Offense (10th overall, 14th rushing, 12th passing, 18th in scoring), Defense (23rd overall, 11th vs. the run, 25th vs. the pass, 20th in scoring)

Bucs Player to Watch

Tampa Bay’s WR Desean Jackson should have a great opportunity to make an impact in this game. With Pro Bowl CB Xavier Rhodes matching up against Mike Evans, it will leave Jackson matched up with 2015 first round pick Trae Waynes, who has struggled mightily with speed receivers.

Winston and Jackson just missed on some big-play opportunities against Chicago last week and has spent a lot of time this week trying to perfect their timing. If Tampa Bay can hit a couple big ones, it could blow this game wide open.

Vikings Player to Watch

Tampa Bay did a stellar job against Chicago last week, limiting the Bears to just 20 yards rushing. They’ll need another good effort this week as they face one of the exciting young rookie running backs in the league in former Florida State Seminole Dalvin Cook. Many a Bucs/Noles fan wanted Tampa Bay to reunite Cook with fellow FSU alum Jameis Winston, but when OJ Howard fell into the Bucs’ lap it was simply an offer they couldn’t refuse.

Meanwhile, Cook is the league’s fifth-leading rusher through two weeks, with 191 yds and averaging 5.6 a carry.

When the Bucs Have The Ball

Yeah, we say it every week but its more important than ever this week. Jameis has to protect the football. This is another week where if Winston channels his inner Alex Smith, the Bucs should have a great shot at pulling out the victory.

When the Vikings Have The Ball

Tampa Bay’s job is to stop Dalvin Cook. Yes, I know, Case Keenum is allegedly the “Buc Killer”. He’s had two very decent games against the Bucs the last two seasons and his Rams teams came out victorious against them. Yet, let’s face reality, while Keenum is capable, he’s not Sam Bradford (who is just slightly better than average himself) and Tampa Bay caught a big break in Bradford having to sit out another week.

Control Cook, get pressure on Keenum, you should have another Bears type day. Unfortunately, it looks like the Bucs may be without both Kwon Alexander and Chris Baker this week which will make the task a little tougher.

Weird Facts Only Interesting to Me

  • Bucs have beaten Minnesota 6 of the last 7 meetings.
  • Per TB Times Greg Auman, the Bucs have a chance to beat a team in 3 different road stadiums for the first time.
  • Case Keenum is 2-0 vs. Tampa Bay and 7-18 vs the rest of the NFL.
  • Keenum has a 118 QB rating vs Tampa Bay and a 77.8 QB rating overall.
  • Jameis Winston is 3-2 in domes with a 97 QB rating, 10 touchdowns, and just 4 interceptions.
  • Winston has a 98.6 QB rating against NFC North teams.

One Last Thing

I live tweet every game! Follow me at @jcdelatorre for some live commentary, freakouts and my own brand of snark.

J.C. De La Torre

Want to give JC a piece of your mind? E-mail him at JC De La Torre is formerly a columnist/blogger for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers blog site where in 2016, he was nominated as best sportswriter in Tampa Bay by Creative Loafing. Previously, he served as a featured columnist for Bleacher Report on Tampa Bay sports, an editor and featured columnist for SB Nation Tampa Bay covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Gators, wrote for’s Blog Blitz and contributed to Pewter Report, one of the top magazines on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. JC is also a filmmaker, comic writer and rabid Whovian.

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