Buccaneers (0-0) at Vikings (0-0)
Spread: Vikings -5.5
The line for this contest has undergone a lot of movement as it opened at Minnesota Vikings -5.5, peaked at Vikings -6.5 and now is back down to Vikings -5.5.
Line movement on the total has been more traditional as it opened at 46.5 points before gradually sliding down to 45.5, where it currently sits.
Vikings Offense vs. Buccaneers Defense
Justin Jefferson won last year’s Offensive Player of the Year behind a league-leading 128 receptions and 1,809 receiving yards. Those numbers sound made up, but Jefferson has been a historic receiver through his first three seasons.
T.J. Hockenson saw massive usage once he was traded to Minnesota halfway through last season. Hockenson is an excellent complement to Jefferson, as they operate in different areas of the field. First-round pick Jordan Addison and veteran K.J. Osborn round out Minnesota’s three-receiver sets. It’s hard to peg a rookie’s early season role, so we’d suggest staying away from Addison in props markets for now.
The Buccaneers’ run defense is not as dominant as it was a few short years ago, but it’s still a solid group. This is a neutral matchup for Alexander Mattison, with some game-script-related upside.
Buccaneers Offense vs. Vikings Defense
The transition from Tom Brady to Baker Mayfield is one of the most enormous job-related drop-offs. That said, Mayfield is in a great position to make an early impression as the Vikings gave up more than 300 yards passing to Mac Jones and Daniel Jones two times last season. Both quarterbacks are better than Mayfield but exceeded 300 yards passing with much weaker wide receivers.
Minnesota gave up the most receiving yards to wide receivers last season. The Vikings were consistently beaten in the slot and on the boundary. New defensive coordinator Brian Flores will improve the situation, but this is a plus matchup for Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
The Vikings allowed the ninth-most receiving yards to running backs last season. That’s great news for Rachaad White, who saw 58 targets last year in a part-time role. Tampa Bay has a new play caller in Dave Canales this season, but there are 83 vacated targets from Leonard Fournette in this backfield.
What You’re Betting On
If you’re betting on Minnesota, you build that bet around two core concepts. The first is that Cousins’ passing attack at least meets expectations. The second is that Flores turns the Vikings’ Swiss cheese pass defense of 2022 into one that won’t get embarrassed by Mayfield. Those are both reasonable expectations for a Vikings’ win, but less so for Minnesota to reliably win by distance. Minnesota is a fair option for survivor pool players, but this is the sort of game the Vikings make more interesting than it should be.
If you’re betting on the Buccaneers, you’re building that wager around two core concepts. The first is that Mayfield at least semi-shreds the Vikings’ below-average pass defense. That’s not exactly a safe expectation, but it has a better chance of happening in this matchup than in most others. Second, Tampa Bay’s defense keeps it in this contest, while Minnesota simply underwhelms.
Score Prediction: Vikings 24, Buccaneers 20
Ryan’s Recent Betting Record
ATS 2021: 49-31
ATS 2022: 48-32
Props 2022: 60-40
Ryan Reynolds is the associate director of fantasy and betting at The 33rd Team. He has watched every snap of every NFL game since 2014 and has been covering NFL betting markets for five years. Follow Ryan @RyanReynoldsNFL on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.