Minnesota Vikings (2-5 SU, 3-4 ATS) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5 SU, 2-4 ATS)
NFL Week 8
Date and Time: Sunday, October 26, 2014, 1:00 pm EST
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
TV: Fox, DirecTV 708
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Minn. +3/TB -3
Over/Under Total: 42
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Two old divisional rivals both a little down on their luck and in the midst of rebuilding will renew their old hatred of each other on Sunday, when the Minnesota Vikings travel South to sunny Raymond James Stadium to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in early week eight NFL action on Fox.
With their franchise running back Adrian Peterson still tied up in his legal process, rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has erroneously been made into the savior for the Vikings faithful and like most rookie QBs in the NFL, its been a roller-coaster ride. Bridgewater struggled against the Buffalo Bills in last weeks narrow, 17-16 loss on the road, throwing two picks and 157 yards on just 26 attempts as Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner tries to ease the rook into his NFL career.
But if you want to talk roller coasters look no further than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs were literally embarrassed by Atlanta in primetime on Thursday Night in early September, only to follow that dud with a win (at Pitt.) and a woulda-shoulda overtime loss (at New Orleans), only to follow those two solid outings with a, 48-17, collapse at home against Baltimore. With a bye week to get ready for the Vikings, if the Bucs dont respond with a good game on Sunday you almost have to question whether the Bucs are trying to make chicken salad with chicken, well, you know.
Late on Sunday when the opening point spread was first put up on the board the Buccaneers were staked as 2.5-point favorites at home. Since then, theres been enough action on the home side that the number has climbed up to the standard home-team 3-point favorite at most sportsbooks. Although you can still get the Bucs at minus -2.5 if youre willing to pay the extra -120 juice for it.
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The over/under total opened at 41.5 and has gone up the hook to 42 at most sportsbooks, both offshore on the Web and the books out in Las Vegas.
Bridgewater and the Vikings have come back down to Earth offensively since his opening breakout game against the (what we now know as extremely weak) Atlanta defense. Again, with no A.P. what do you expect? Rookie Jerick McKinnon has taken over the running back duties now, and at least the Vikings have that burst once again out of the backfield, but with so many young players at the skill positions you must expect the hot-n-cold nature on offense these days. What should help is that the Buccaneers defense is the leagues worst overall (423 ypg allowed) and in scoring (allowing 34 ppg), even at home in Raymond James with the cannons.
The news doesnt get much better for Buccaneers fans when the team has the ball on offense, although they are a better team with Mike Glennon at QB instead of Josh McCown. When the Bucs arent chasing a few touchdowns because their defense is so bad, they still havent been able to get Doug Martin or the running game on track (89.8 ypg 28th), which is making the QBs job so much harder in Tampa. Since the Vikings run defense appears to be their weakest link (allowing 118 ypg 19th), this week might be the week to get Martin a boatload of carries.
On the field, Tampa is enjoying a six-game winning streak against these Vikings, a streak that started with a 41-14 victory at home in 2001 and that was last continued with a 36-17 victory on the road in Minnesota in 2012. Better yet, the Buccaneers have covered in all six games of the win streak over the Vikings (6-0 ATS), including the last five games at home in Florida as anywhere from 1-point dogs to as high as 4.5-point favorites and multiple numbers in between.
The over is also looking like a solid trend worth betting, as its 4-0 in Tampas last four overall, 5-1 in the last six meetings with the Vikings at home, and 13-4-1 in the game following Tampas bye week.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Making a pick in this game is like choosing the lesser of two evils. Im not so sure a rookie QB with a rookie RB and a weak but getting better defense is exactly the team to back here. And have you watched Tampa Bay this year? Im not touching them, even at home where they are 0-3 SU and ATS. If I play anything for this game Id play for both defenses to suck and take the over of 42. But the best wager might be to just walk away.