Minnesota at Tampa Bay
Time: NOON EST, FOX
Spread: TB -7.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the visiting Minnesota Vikings as 7.5-point favorites Sunday (NOON) on FOX networks. The over-under is set at 52.5 total points according to NFL oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
The Minnesota Vikings had a rough start in 2020. It lost its first three games, but since it has won six of nine, including five of its last six.
The Vikings rank No. 6 in the NFL in rushing yards, with 145.7 per game. It is middle-of-the-pack in its passing attack, with 244.2 yards to its credit in the air.
Overall, the result is a No. 12 ranked scoring offense with 26.6 points per contest. The defense does surrender more, at 27.4 and the seventh-worst in the league.
Minnesota turned to Kirk Cousins at quarterback, and he is certainly producing as he was once expected to. Cousins has 3,073 yards and 26 touchdowns with 12 picks. He has been sacked over two times per game, but he has a passer rating of 103.9, and his top receivers have all gotten off to smashing seasons, paced by Justin Jefferson’s 1,000-plus yards and 42 first downs.
Jefferson is bolstered by three others with at least 300 yards on the year, including tight end Kyle Rudolph who has caught 28 of 37 targeted passes for 334 yards and a touchdown. Adam Theilen ranks No. 2 in yardage at 721, but he is the team leader in touchdown catches with 12 of the team’s 26.
The Vikings definitely also have the rush attack to frame that passing excellence. It manages five yards-per-carry as a team, with top option Dalvin Cook bolstering that cause at 5.0 yards-per-touch. He has 1,250 yards this season with 13 of the 14 Vikings’ rushing touchdowns.
Alexander Mattison is the No. 2 option with 338 yards but only about one-third as many carries as Cook. He tallies 4.6 yards-per-carry, while Cousins adds 89 yards on 4.7 per. The Vikings have a lot of ways to move the chain, and the efficiency of the offense should eventually translate to a top-10 scoring unit, as it is already on the cusp of that. Better execution will result in an offense that can make up for the lackluster defensive unit this team possesses.
Tampa Bay has become Tom Brady’s team, and the Buccaneers are starting to look more and more like the Patriots, coming off its fourth win in its last five games. Brady is looking more and more comfortable, and he is comfortably shattering the notion that his career success was “System-based.”
Tampa Bay has been a decent pass offense at 266.4 yards per game, but it boasts a mediocre rushing attack, good for just 96 yards per game.
Overall, the offense is still strong at 28.7 points per game and ranking No. 6 in the NFL. Its defense is strong enough, too, limiting opponents to just 23.3 per game, and giving TB a win-differential of +5.4 points per game.
Brady has thrown for 3,300 yards at a 64.8 percent clip with 28 touchdowns and 11 picks. He has been sacked 16 times in 12 games (1.33 per game), but he still boasts a passer rating of 95.1.
Brady has benefitted from his own tight end, bringing Rob Gronkowski along with him to Tampa Bay to rank No. 3 receiving yards, and his four touchdowns rank No. 2 among receiving options. Mike Evans and Scott Miller each have over 500 yards receiving and Evans has a team-best 11 touchdowns.
The Bucs have 28 passing touchdowns and just 11 via the rush, meaning this receiving corp will be counted on heavily for its red-zone production, even with a pretty productive backfield. The Bucs averaged 4.2 yards-per-carry, but its main two options are both efficient and consistent. Ronald Jones II has rushed for 40 first downs and 820 yards, along with five touchdowns, which is pretty productive for someone accused of not being a big playmaker.
Leonard Fournette has been a disappointment with just 3.9 yards-per-carry, though he does account for three rushing touchdowns and is No. 2 in first downs with 13.