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Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings: Week 1 Preview

Week one of the NFL season is here - and so is the Baker Mayfield era

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NFL: Preseason-Baltimore Ravens at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL season has finally arrived and the expectations for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are low, to say the least. In a season where they have begun a youth movement, gone from Tom Brady to Baker Mayfield, lost their starting center for the season - and maybe for his career - and they have a rookie offensive coordinator, the narrative surrounding the Bucs is that, well, they’re going to stink. In fact, they’re the odds on favorite to come in last in the NFC South and among one of the most common teams spoken about to be in the running for the number one pick.

Then there’s the Minnesota Vikings, coming off a 13-4 2022 season where they won the NFC North after going 11-0 in one-score games throughout the season, then falling to the New York Giants in the first round of the playoffs. They had their fair share of changes this off-season as well, adding star wide receiver Jordan Addison in the NFL Draft while letting Dalvin Cook go and seeing Adam Thielen go to the Carolina Panthers in free agency.

Now, each team gets a fresh start on a new season and both are looking to get the upper hand early on. For the Bucs, that means a big road upset and winning their week one game for the third straight season.

It also means the debut of Dave Canales as offensive coordinator and playcaller, replacing the disappointing Byron Leftwich. Canales, who comes over from the Seattle Seahawks, showed some interesting things in preseason but certainly didn’t unveil all the tricks up his sleeve. One thing we know already is that Canales loves moving things around from play to play. Whether it’s putting guys in motion or running bootlegs to shift the pocket and create time for Mayfield, Canales likes to move guys around to give them the best chance to succeed.

One of those guys is going to be Rachaad White, the second year running back from Arizona State who is taking over for Leonard Fournette as the number one running back on the team. And if Canales’ offense in Tampa is anything like the one he came from in Seattle, White is going to get utilized a lot.

Take Seattle’s number one back from last year, Kenneth Walker III. He was on the field for 52.6% of all offensive snaps. When he was on the field, he touched the ball 44.3% of the time. So, almost half of the Seahawks’ offensive plays with Walker on the field, the ball went to him. He accounted for 53.6% of the team’s carries and 39.7% of the team’s receptions that went to the running back position. That’s the kind of workload White is looking to get with Canales at the helm.

Last season, Minnesota had the 31st ranked pass defense, allowing 265.6 pass yards per game. That means the tandem of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin should have plenty of opportunity against the Vikings’ defense and allowing for Mayfield to get into an early rhythm. They were also tied for the third most points per game given up at 25.1, meaning it’ll be on the shoulders of the Bucs offense to keep them in the game against an explosive Minnesota offense.

Justin Jefferson is in a league all his own as the best receiver in the NFL. Finishing last year with 128 receptions for 1,809 yards and eight touchdowns, Jefferson had one of the most impressive seasons we’ve seen out of such a young wide receiver. 80 of his 128 receptions resulted in a first down meaning that he’s going to be the guy Cousins looks to on third down time and time again - putting a lot of pressure on Carlton Davis and the Bucs’ secondary.

The Vikings lead the all-time series between these two former division rivals with a record of 33-32, meaning the Bucs can finally get to .500 against them with the road upset on Sunday. The Bucs won their last meeting 26-14, marking their seventh win in the teams last nine meetings since 2001. However, in Minnesota, the Vikings are 19-9 against the Bucs but they’ve lost three of the last five home meetings against Tampa.

According to our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook, the Vikings are 5.5-point home favorites with an over/under of 45.5. The Bucs have failed to cover the spread in 14 of their last 16 games while the Vikings have won 15 of their last 16 games as favorites and have seen seven of their eight hit the over.

The Buccaneers and Vikings square off on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET with Andrew Catalon, Tiki Barber, Matt Ryan, and A.J. Ross on the call for CBS.

For more on this and all things Tampa Bay Buccaneers check out James Yarcho and David Harrison on the Locked On Bucs Podcast!