Well folks, the season is finally here as the Buccaneers travel to Minnesota for a week one showdown with the Vikings. After such a long-awaited day, it is time to look at which player is ultimately a big reason why the Bucs will win or lose.
This week’s X-factor is cornerback Carlton Davis.
It is Davis for good reason. He is expected to cover Vikings star receiver Justin Jefferson during the game and will be a focus for the Bucs defense. The last time the Bucs played Jefferson and the Vikings, It was a 26-14 win for Tampa Bay and Davis got the best of Jefferson that day.
Carlton Davis vs. NFC North WRs:— PFF (@PFF) January 19, 2021
Allen Robinson II
W5: 6 catches, 50 yards
W6: 3 catches, 33 yards
Justin Jefferson/Adam Thielen
W14: 1 catch, 5 yards
In total that day, Jefferson had four catches for 39 yards and Davis covering him was a big reason why. In 2022 though, Jefferson reached new heights as a receiver and truly established himself as one of, if not the best receiver in the entire NFL.
Last season Jefferson had career highs in receptions and yards with 128 catches, 1,809 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns. Now entering this matchup with Carlton Davis, the Vikings will likely continue to look to feed Jefferson the ball early and often.
There are questions surrounding the Bucs defense this season even though they have solidified talent in many areas. Where will the pass rush come from? Will the inexperienced depth in the secondary prove costly? One of the questions the Bucs don’t have is about their starting secondary which has corners Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean as well as Antoine Winfield Jr at safety.
In this matchup there is a chance that the Vikings move Jefferson around the field, both inside and out in order to get the receiver a better matchup but when it is straight up Davis vs Jefferson, it is a matchup that Davis needs to come out on top of most of the time. If he does, the Bucs defense should be able to control the Vikings offense and thus put their own offense in some better field positions.
Of course, there are many players that the Bucs will need to have play well, but Davis is a very important one going up against the Vikings best player. If the Bucs win this one, I think there is a good chance fans and analysts will be able to look back and point to Carlton Davis’s performance as a big reason why they walked out of U.S. Bank Stadium with a W this Sunday.