Flashback Friday: Vikings Open 1998 Season with a Bang against the Bucs + Prediction

Sep 27, 1998; Chicago, IL, USA; FILE PHOTO; Minnesota Vikings head coach Dennis Green on the sidelines against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY NETWORK.

The wait is finally over.

The NFL regular season is here. The Minnesota Vikings will kick off their season this Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at U.S. Bank Stadium. 

Flashback Friday: Vikings Open 1998 Season with a Bang against the Bucs + Prediction

In 1998, Minnesota also opened their season against Tampa Bay. That, by the way, was one of the most memorable seasons in team history.

Minnesota won 31-7 and later finished the season 15-1 with a trip to the NFC Championship Game. They also set a then-NFL record of 556 points.

For Minnesota, Brad Johnson went 15/25 for 189 yards, four touchdowns, and an interception. Rookie Randy Moss caught four passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Cris Carter also caught two scores. Robert Smith rushed for 90 yards on 18 carries.

Open 1998
Nov 1, 1998; Tampa, FL, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Robert Smith (26) carries the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. FILE PHOTO; Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The arrival of Moss really helped jumpstart the franchise and the whole fanbase. They were a hot ticket in the Twin Cities. The Hall of Famer was fun to watch throughout his career, but his rookie season is what fans remember most. He caught a rookie-record 17 touchdowns that season. Teams were kicking themselves for passing on him. Twenty of them passed on him.

Despite only playing four seasons together, he and Carter formed arguably the best wide receiver tandem in NFL history.

For Tampa Bay, Trent Dilfer went 17/25 for 207 and a touchdown. Bert Emanuel caught seven passes for 98 yards.

Randy Moss’ FIRST Game! (Buccaneers vs. Vikings, 1998) – YouTube

Minnesota leads the all-time series 33-23, but Tampa Bay has won eight of the last eleven meetings.

This is a game Minnesota should win. It is at home, and Tampa Bay is not a very good team. If they want to win the NFC North again for the second straight season (they have not done that since 2009), they need to defend their home field once again. That will no doubt be one of the keys to the season.

Aug 26, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell takes the field before a game against the Arizona Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Last season, Minnesota only lost one regular season game at home. They may need to do the same this year. The Detroit Lions have not won the division since 1993, but they have a pretty good roster, and if both teams can stay healthy for the most part, it should be a very fun race for the North.

Detroit may win the division, but Minnesota still has a very good shot. Both teams have a great shot at making the postseason. Maybe both will win a playoff game, too, if they do not face each other in the first round.

The schedule is pretty tough this year for Minnesota, so even though this is only week one, this a game they cannot afford to lose. Sometimes, early losses can also come back to bite teams.

Going 13-4 once again will be very tough to repeat. They definitely played better than expected last season but also had some lucky bounces going their way. It’s hard to see them having the same going for them this season. It is a crazy league, though.

3 Takeaways from Vikings
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) runs onto the field before a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The defense should be improved under Brian Flores. How much improved? That will be one of the biggest keys to the season. Once again, the offense should be pretty good, but the offensive line needs to be better. How will Alexander Mattison also do as the primary running back? Can Jordan Addison also contribute right away as a rookie?

So many questions remain to be answered.

It should be interesting to see how this team does in year two under Kevin O’Connell. Fans of the purple and gold cannot wait to see how it all plays out this year.

Prediction: Vikings win 30-20