The Vikings are 2-5 and the Bucs 1-5, making it must-win for each team. But there are plenty of reasons for their records. Just look to the rankings.
Teams like to say that one game is no more important or less important than the one that preceded it or will follow it. But the reality is that today’s game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
is likely a playoff elimination game.
Thanks to a brutal run for the NFC South, despite being 1-5, the Bucs are only two games out of first in their division. At 2-5, the Vikings are fading from the wild card chase, which makes last week’s last-second loss to Buffalo even more painful to handle. A win last week and the Vikings could be looking at trying to get to .500 today instead of avoiding potentially falling to 2-6.
Most figured the implementation of a new offense and defense was going to take some time in Minnesota. The coaches running the show weren’t the guys who drafted most of the roster as it is currently configured. Much of the change that was coming was expected to be tempered by the fact that the team had Adrian Peterson
as its offensive centerpiece. He’s no longer in the picture.
The Vikings as they take the field today are a far cry from what was expected of the team when the regular season opened. Many key players are either currently missing or have been missing. The new coaching staff has been asked to make changes on the fly – the last thing a new staff wants to do.
Vikings-Bucs: 5 things to watch
If the Vikings win today, the hope is kept alive that they can make a November-December run to remain playoff-relevant. A loss to the Bucs would drop the Vikings to 2-6 and the process of rebuilding or retooling the roster in the Zimmer mold of things will likely take hold full force.
It’s hard to call a matchup of a 2-5 team playing a 1-5 team on the road as a must-win, but in this case, it does apply.
VIKINGS-BUCS BY THE NUMBERS
The Vikings have the 29th-ranked offense (10th rushing, 32nd passing) and the 13th-ranked defense (15th rushing, 9th passing).
The Buccaneers have the 30th-ranked offense (28th rushing, 24th passing) and the 32nd-ranked defense (25th rushing, 32nd passing).
The NFL keeps team statistics on 17 offensive and defensive categories. Tampa Bay is 27th or lower in nine offensive categories and nine defensive categories.
The Vikings are 28th or worse in nine offensive categories, but are in the top half of the league in 12 of 17 defensive categories.
Minnesota is averaging 309 yards a game (184 passing, 125 rushing). Tampa Bay is averaging 307 yards a game (217 passing, 90 rushing).
Defensively, the Vikings are allowing 338 yards a game (220 passing, 118 rushing). The Bucs are allowing 423 yards a game (295 passing, 128 rushing).
Tampa Bay is tied for 23rd in giveaway/takeaway ratio at minus-2 (12 giveaways, 10 takeaways). Minnesota is tied for 25th at minus-3 (12 giveaways, 9 takeaways).
The Bucs are ninth in red zone offense, scoring touchdowns on 12 of 19 possessions (63.2 percent). The Vikings have scored touchdowns on 8 of 18 (44.4 percent), which ranks them 26th in the league.
Defensively, the Vikings are 23rd in red zone defense, allowing touchdowns on 12 of 19 possessions (63.2 percent). Tampa is 24th at 65.2 percent (15 TDs on 23 possessions).
The Bucs are 24th in third-down offense, converting 25 of 67 opportunities (37.3 percent). Minnesota is 28th at 33.2 percent (32 of 96). The league average converting third downs is at 41.2 percent.
Defensively, the Vikings are 12th at 40.2 percent, allowing conversions on 37 of 92 opportunities. Tampa Bay is 31st at 49.4 percent (38 of 77).
Only Oakland is worse than the Bucs defense on third downs.
Matt Glennon has two 300-yard passing games. Teddy Bridgewater has one. The Bucs have allowed three 300-yard passing games, while the Vikings have yet to allow one 300-yard passer.
The two teams each have one 100-yard receiver – Vincent Jackson and Jarius Wright. The Bucs have allowed three 100-yard receivers. The Vikings have allowed one.
The Vikings have three 100-yard rushing games – two from Jerick McKinnon and one from Cordarrelle Patterson. The Buccaneers don’t have a 100-yard rushing game.
Neither team has had a quarterback that has been the full-time starter this season, so both are near the bottom of the cumulative passing ratings.
McKinnon is 23rd in rushing with 309 yards. Bobby Rainey currently leads the Bucs with262 yards, which ranks him 32nd.
Greg Jennings leads the Vikings with 26 receptions, which ties him for 47th place. Jackson has 25 receptions, which ties him for 51st.
Matt Asiata is tied for 22nd in scoring among non-kickers with 24 points (four touchdowns). No Tampa player has more than two touchdowns.
Blair Walsh is 13th in scoring among kickers with 52 points. The Bucs’ Patrick Murray is 30th with 30 points.
Walsh in fifth in touchbacks on kickoffs with 26. Michael Koenen is 18th with 18 touchbacks.
Jeff Locke is 20th in punting average at 44.9 yards. Koenen is last at 41.4 yards.
Cordarrelle Patterson is eighth in the league in kickoff return average at 24.4 yards. He led the NFL in that category last season.
Harrison Smith is tied for third in the league in interceptions with three. Josh Robinson is tied for 12th with two picks.
Everson Griffen is tied for second in the NFL with seven sacks. Nobody from Tampa Bay has more than two.
See what Vikings fans are saying here