Ron Glover’s Thursday Night NFL Preview and Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Minnesota Vikings: Will Adrian Peterson’s knee hold up on a short week?
The return of Adrian Peterson has defied medical science and blown the mind of this writer.
This week’s Thursday Night matchup has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) matched up against the Minnesota Vikings (5-2). I don’t know if the Vikings record or the performance of running back Adrian Peterson is the biggest surprise of the season’s first half. The Buccaneers have been on the short end of some close contests. The addition of free agent wide receiver Vincent Jackson has helped quarterback Josh Freeman rebound from a subpar 2011.
The comeback of Adrian Peterson is nothing short of a miracle. His speedy recovery and return to form is a testament to his dedication and work ethic. The Vikings are playing their second game in five days. I’m curious to see how much punishment Peterson’s knee can absorb on such a short turnaround.
If the play of Christian Ponder is any indication, it looks like Peterson is going to get the lion’s share of carries tonight. Ponder passed for 58 yards and two interceptions in Sunday’s win over the Cardinals, thankfully Peterson and the Vikings defense came to play. The second year quarterback has seven turnovers in the last 10 quarters. Minnesota is ranked 27th in passing and 7th in the run. It looks like Percy Harvin has been able to put his medical issues behind him and has returned to being a factor as a receiver and on special teams. He leads the team in receptions with 58, he also has two touchdowns.
The Bucs third-ranked run defense will be a stiff test for Peterson. If the defense can keep A.P. from running wild, they will shift their focus on rattling Ponder. If Ponder can mix things up, he has a chance to have a good night against the second-worst passing defense. The Bucs allowed 377 passing yards last week. The defense as a whole gave up 28 points in the second half to the Saints.
Josh Freeman has passed for 748 yards and six touchdowns in the last two games. The offense is moving the ball well, it’s the defense that isn’t stopping anyone. Vincent Jackson is paying dividends in his first season in Tampa. Jackson is third in the NFL with 21.7 yards per catch and sixth with 586 receiving yards. Doug Martin leads the team in rushing with 408 yards and LaGarrette Blount is the teams battering ram for short yardage averaging 4.0 yards a pop. Freeman and Co. will be tested by an opportunistic Vikings defense.
Prediction: The Buccaneers have won five of their last six against the Vikings, this is their seventh meeting in the last eleven seasons. The Vikings are undefeated at home and the Bucs are winless on the road. If the Bucs had a hint of pass coverage I would go their way. Minnesota is going to hold the ball and dare Freeman to beat them with his arm.
Vikings 23 – Buccaneers 13