4 Storylines to Watch for Vikings-Buccaneers

Dec 13, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA;Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) drops back against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings hope to create back-to-back postseason trips this season for the first since 2008-2009.

That’s a long drought, and the purple team begins the journey this Sunday at U.S Bank Stadium versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

4 Storylines to Watch for Vikings-Buccaneers

The Vikings are favored by six to topple the Buccaneers.

Along the way, these are the four storylines to watch, ranked in ascending order of importance (No. 1 = most important).

4. Are the Bucs Really That Bad?

Aug 26, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) looks on against the Baltimore Ravens during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports.

Power-ranking outfits have placed the Buccaneers in a terrible tier all offseason. Indeed, Tom Brady doesn’t work there anymore — and that’s a big damn deal — but what gives?

How can a team with Shaq Barrett, Lavonte David, Jamel Dean, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Vita Vea, Devin White, Antoine Winfield, and Tristan Wirfs be that bad?

We’ll find out tomorrow; it just seems odd that a team with so many productive veterans is this universally panned by NFL experts.

3. Addison Arrives

4 Storylines
Apr 27, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; USC wide receiver Jordan Addison reacts after being selected by the Minnesota Vikings twenty-third overall in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings have employed baronial wide receivers — pretty much since team inception — from Randy Moss, Sammy White, Cris Carter, Anthony Carter, Stefon Diggs, Percy Harvin, Adam Thielen, to Justin Jefferson.

While those men were — are — marvelous, some Vikings loyalists insist on recollecting Troy Williamson and Laquon Treadwell.

Well, on Sunday, folks will begin to learn which camp Addison inhabits or if he’s right in the middle of the riches and rags. Of course, one game won’t render a verdict, but if Addison pulls a few passes out of the sky against the Buccaneers, the masses will assume the Vikings have “done it again” at WR.

2. Life without Tom Brady

Jan 16, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts before the wild card game against the Dallas Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings are the very first team to benefit from Tom Brady’s retirement. Whoodathunkit?

The goat-like NFLer walked away — for good, we think — this offseason, and Tampa Bay will embark on life without Brady for the first time in four years. The roster has talent, as mentioned above, but was Brady really the special sauce for last year’s 8-9 division title?

The sport will adjust to a Brady-less NFL for the first time this millennium, and the Vikings get first dibs at his old team.

1. The Flores Defense

Vikings Probably Have 1 Full
Dec 15, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores talks with an assistant coach during the second half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports.

Down the stretch of the 2022 season, Ed Donatell’s bend-but-don’t-break philosophy actually broke, and so did his employment for the purple team. The Vikings said sayonara to Donatell four days after his defense limped to a home playoffs loss at the feet of the New York Giants, and Minnesota hired Brian Flores the following month.

Vikings fans have treated Flores like a savior since February, banking on the former Miami Dolphins skipper to “do more with less” on the field as Minnesota embraced faster and younger defenders whose experience is bottom shelf.

The top storyline for Sunday? Does the Vikings defense look improved out of the gate — or will defensive porousness be a recurring storyline from 2022 to 2023?

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.