Vikings QB Opponent Is a Mystery in Week 1

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The Minnesota Vikings have a mystery on their hands — and there’s absolutely nothing they can do to solve it.

Kevin O’Connell’s club hosts the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1 at U.S. Bank Stadium as the NFC South foe embarks on life without Tom Brady for the first time since 2019.

Vikings QB Opponent Is a Mystery in Week 1

And as of August 7th, nobody knows which Tampa Bay quarterback will show up under center that Sunday afternoon.

Vikings QB Opponent
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It’s a clash between Baker Mayfield, the 1st-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and Kyle Trask, who joined the Buccaneers roster during the 2021 NFL Draft from Round 2. Because of name notoriety, Mayfield can probably be fairly classified as the frontrunner, but on the whole, that doesn’t mean much without any preseason games in the books.

Mayfield began his career with the Cleveland Browns in ultra-promising fashion. He displayed the machismo necessary to lead a franchise, marshaled Cleveland to its first postseason victory in 26 years during the 2020 season — and then was shown the door when the Browns pulled off the controversial Deshaun Watson trade 17 months ago.

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Vividly not part of the Browns plan after Watson’s arrival, Mayfield trekked to the Carolina Panthers in 2022, where the team notched a 1-5 (.166) record on his watch. He later left the Panthers in the same season, joined the floundering Los Angeles Rams, and Los Angeles went 1-3 (.250) with Mayfield at the helm.

Now, he’s embedded in a QB1 duel for the Buccaneers top job, a team most NFL pundits consider a bottom-four unit heading into 2023.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback and former Florida Gators quarterback Kyle Trask watches from the sideline before the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, FL, on Saturday, October 29, 2022. © Matt Pendleton / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Meanwhile, Trask is the ‘upside’ option. Folks mostly know what Baker will bring to the field, but Trask is a wildcard. He’s thrown 9 NFL passes in two seasons and started zero games. He could start against the Vikings on September 10th and look marvelous — or struggle profusely. We shall see.

Trask said this week, “I’ve definitely been seeing what I can and can’t do for the past two years (in practices). I think I have a much better idea now. I know what situations you have to take more risks in, and I think if we can just play clean as an offense, that’s going to give us the best chance to win in the end. I’m just trying to do the best that I can do, which includes protecting the football.”

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Coming out of college (Florida) a couple of years ago, Trask’s weaknesses included arm strength and mobility. He can wiggle around the pocket but isn’t really a take-off-and-scamper talent, a feature most NFL general managers and coaches crave in 2023. He’s best served dropping dimes of short and intermediate length.

Tampa Bay also has John Wolford on the depth chart at QB3, and he is expected to remain in that spot.

No matter the quarterback, the Vikings are predicted by oddsmakers to topple the Buccaneers by 6.5 points in Week 1.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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