Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) at Minnesota Vikings (1-1)
The Vikings’ season got off to such a promising start with Sam Bradford having the game of his life in their week 1 home victory over the Saints. However, Bradford’s surgically repaired knee started giving him trouble a few days after that game and now he’s out indefinitely. Bradford was originally acquired from the Eagles for a first round pick because the Vikings lost Teddy Bridgewater to a horrific knee injury three weeks before the start of the 2016 season and needed a replacement. Bridgewater remains out, so the Vikings are in a unique position of having two franchise caliber quarterbacks on the roster and not being able to play either of them.
Instead, veteran journeyman Case Keenum started in their week 2 loss in Pittsburgh and he’ll start again this week at home for the Buccaneers. Bradford’s injury shifted this line all the way to 2.5 in favor of the visiting Buccaneers. That translates to a line of about 8 or 8.5 in Tampa Bay, which doesn’t make sense because the Bears were just 6.5 point underdogs there last week and the Vikings are still a much better team than the Bears even with Keenum under center. The Buccaneers beat the Bears 29-7, but that was largely because they won the turnover battle by 3, which is not something they can count on every week. Teams that win the turnover battle by 3, on average, have a +0.0 turnover margin the following week.
Tampa Bay will also be without a pair of talented defensive starters, with defensive tackle Chris Baker and middle linebacker Kwon Alexander both out. The Vikings are healthy other than Bradford and Bridgewater and they have a lot of supporting talent around Keenum on both sides of the ball. Keenum is a backup caliber quarterback, but he’s not the worst backup in the world and the Vikings have a good chance to pull the upset straight up. The money line is worth a small bet at +130, but I’d need a full field goal to bet on the spread. If this line moves up between now and game time, I’ll reconsider.
Minnesota Vikings 17 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16 Upset Pick +130
Pick against the spread: Minnesota +2.5