The Vikings return back home to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Let's see who the experts pick to win Sunday's matchup.
If Kyle Rudolph (knee) plays, the *Vikings win this game. They are at home versus a pesky Bucs team that everyone is high on after a resounding win over the Bears. The worry here for Tampa is if Bradford plays, and performs well, the Minnesota defense will not have to line up for 39 of 60 minutes [like it did at Pittsburgh last week]. These teams are evenly matched, with ascending defenses and uneven but viable quarterback play. Both carry valid January hopes. If Bradford can't go Sunday, Stefon Diggs becomes an absentee WR1, and the Lavonte David/Kwon Alexander tandem can focus on Dalvin Cook. If Bradford isn't a go, I'm changing my pick. As far as Jameis Winston ... During his brief NFL career, he is 1-6 against with 2.4 giveaways per game against defenses that finish in the top 10. Ouch. #TBvsMIN *
Vikings 20, Buccaneers 17— Elliot Harrison**, * NFL.com
As of now, I don't know the status of Minnesota Vikings quarterback *Sam Bradford — and that's going to have a huge impact on this game. Case Keenum wasn't awful playing in his place last week, but he can't stretch the field the way Bradford can.*
This makes things tricky because otherwise, this is a strength vs. strength matchup. The Vikings have one of the top defenses in the NFL, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the type of offense that can challenge it. Jameis Winston is an aggressive thrower, and now the Buccaneers obviously have the deep-ball weapons to go with him.
The Buccaneers offense is a lot of fun to watch, and it's going to be tough to defend this season — for any defense.
The question in this game is whether or not the Vikings can get enough out of their offense to answer Winston and Co. That very much comes down to whether Bradford can go. If he can't, I think the Buccaneers take this one. If, however, the Vikings get good news and Bradford is able to suit up, I think Minnesota wins at home.
Prediction (w/o Bradford): Buccaneers 24, Vikings 20
Prediction (w/Bradford): Vikings 27, Buccaneers 23
— Chris Simms, Bleacher Report
This is the first road game of the year for the Bucs, and Minnesota is a tough place to play. The key here will be to monitor the status of *Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford. Will he be able to go? Even if he plays, I think this is a tight game. Tampa Bay's defense is much improved. Bucs get to 2-0. *
Buccaneers 19, Vikings 13— Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
If Sam Bradford is good to go, this is a very good matchup of NFC playoff contenders. I think Jameis Winston and Mike Evans will make just enough plays to win a close one.
Buccaneers 24, Vikings 23— Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk
When these two were in the same division, the Vikings owned the rivalry. Now? Not. The Bucs have won six of the last seven. Make that seven of eight.
Buccaneers 23, Vikings 16— Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk
Minnesota is optimistic Sam Bradford can return from his bruised knee for a key NFC home game against Tampa Bay. If that's the case, it becomes a battle of former Florida State stars Jameis Winston and Dalvin Cook. The latter will help the Vikings finish in the red zone, while the Bucs will struggle on a few drives in deep.
Vikings 24, Buccaneers 23* *– Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News
FiveThirtyEight's 2015 NFL forecast uses an Elo-based model to calculate each team's chances of advancing to the playoffs and winning Super Bowl 50. Playoff probabilities are based on 20,000 simulations of the season and will update after each game.
Pre-game win probabilities: Vikings 57 percent— FiveThirtyEight.com
3 of 9 experts pick the Vikings,SB Nation