What: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) vs. Minnesota Vikings (1-1)
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
When: 1 p.m. EST
Latest line/Over-under: No line
Why it’s worth watching
When they finally got back into action last weekend the Buccaneers immediately confirmed themselves as one of the darling teams of the NFL. How they went about it, though, was a little bit unexpected. Instead of their much-ballyhooed offense leading the way, it was the Bucs defense that stood out during a 29-7 dismantling of the Bears. Since the middle of last season that Bucs defense has been quite a force, but it’s the offense that has everyone thinking the Bucs can finally get back to the playoffs this year after a 10-year absence. The Bucs have the makings of one of the most dynamic attacks in the league, and today could be the day it catches fire and shows everyone what it’s truly capable of.
Key on: Bucs running back Peyton Barber
This will be the second of the three games in which the Bucs will have had to make do without lead running back Doug Martin, who is serving the final three games of four-game suspension he earned last year for violating the NFL’s PED policy. Just as they did last week the Bucs are expected to lean mostly on Jacquizz Rodgers today, but after running 10 times for 47 yards in a reserve role last week Barber is the one to watch closest. The Bucs like the idea of Barber closing out games for them in the second half but if Rodgers doesn’t get going after gaining just 3.5 yards per carry last week they may need Barber to create that close-out situation.
With starter Sam Bradford out, the Vikings will be starting backup Case Keenum at quarterback today, but that doesn’t necessarily put the Vikings at a disadvantage. In two career starts against the Bucs, Keenum has thrown four touchdown passes against one interception and produced a 118.8 passer rating. Led by rookie Dalvin Cook, who leads all rookies with 191 rushing yards, the Vikings have a strong running game to support Keenum, but they’re taking on a Bucs team that allowed just 20 yards, generated eight quarterback hits and a sack and forced three takeaways including a pick-six by slot corner Robert McClain.