Are You Ready for Some Football?

The Vikings open the 2005 season today looking to take the next step toward a Super Bowl return. After years of having Randy Moss as a centerpiece, Daunte Culpepper and the rest of the Vikings are prepared to go it without their former star.

The Vikings have spent almost six months talking more about a player (Randy Moss) that isn't here as much or more than they have about the players that are here. Daunte Culpepper is tired of talking about it. Mike Tice almost refuses to talk about it. Rookie Troy Williamson doesn't want to be compared to him. Whether you call it AM (after Moss) or PM (post-Moss), the 2005 Vikings are going to have a much different look that has been ballyhooed for months, but finally gets unveiled today.

Even Vikings fans haven't seen the full scope of the plans the team has. Due to injuries and the belief that teams should show nothing potentially that can be stolen and used by opposing teams, the Vikes are prepared to unleash a new-look offense and defense that have many players that either were injured last year or playing somewhere else.

The offseason spending spree by the Vikings was primarily to build a defense that has been in the bottom 10 each of the last five seasons. If the team is to make a Super Bowl run, that starts today and the Bucs will be the first test of the AM/PM era.

ABC likes to pose the question "are you ready for some football?" One certainty is that the Vikings players and coaches sure are.

* This is the 50th meeting between the Vikings and Bucs. The Vikings hold a 31-18 series advantage, but Tampa has won the last two meetings.
* The last time the Vikings played Tampa, Brad Johnson was the Bucs' starting QB and threw a career-high five touchdowns in a 38-24 win.
* The last time the Vikings played the Buccaneers in an opener at the Metrodome was in 1998 when the Vikings rolled 31-7. The home team has won the last nine games in the series.
* The Vikings have won the last four home meetings with the Bucs and six of the last seven.

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