Jameis Winston will see his first taste of live NFL action when the Buccs open their preseason vs. Vikings, who have already played (and won). Let's examine the public NFL odds for Saturday's game.
It doesn't matter which sportsbook you're checking out; the Vikings are locked in as 3.5-point favorites everywhere we look, and it looks like that number may stick, barring some big roster announcements or something.
If you want to make a play on this game's total instead, that number is trading at 36 points. For what it's worth, Minnesota won 14-3 in its preseason opener versus Pittsburgh in the Hall of Fame game.
It's always easier to decipher games once we have a better feel for the teams, so let's go through and analyze Minnesota's opening preseason win over Pittsburgh. It was a sluggish back-and-forth between the two in their 2015 debuts, but ultimately the Vikings ended up emerging victorious straight up while also cashing as favorites on the NFL odds board.
Teddy Bridgewater got a taste of the action against the Steelers and finished with 5-of-6 completed passes for 44 yards and one run for six yards, while Adrian Peterson was rested in the opener. Taylor Heinicke and Mike Kafka took over at quarterback after Bridgewater's brief appearance and held their own too. However, the Vikings had to be most pleased with their defensive effort, as they held Landry Jones and the rest of the Pittsburgh offense (albeit missing tons of key players) in check throughout.
It remains to be seen how much Bridgewater plays, but you have to think he'll see a few more snaps than he did versus the Steelers. Make sure you also track the news surrounding Peterson to see if he has a chance of playing against Tampa Bay this weekend too.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Whereas we've already gotten a glimpse of Bridgewater and the Vikings, we haven't been so lucky with number one overall draft pick Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers. Yes, they'll be making their preseason debut this weekend, starting with a road test against the Vikings.
Winston is obviously the big story of this game, as we'll get to see him up against NFL competition for the first time. Expectations are sky high after the former Florida State star was selected with the first overall pick in the draft, and early reports are that he's been everything the franchise could have asked for. We all know how important the quarterback position is in football, so Winston's play is going to be a huge determinant in how Tampa Bay performs in the 2015 season.
Luckily for Winston, he has a ton of talent around him. It's a little less clear at running back (with Doug Martin, Charles Sims and others in the mix), but the receiving group is outstanding; with Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkings, this is an offense that has firepower.
For the Vikings, the more repetition the better for Bridgewater and that offense, an offense that will have to forge chemistry quickly. The young quarterback is still learning, but you've got to like the pieces that surround him in Minnesota, particularly since Peterson is back to take over the lead back role.
Will the Vikings be able to move to 2-0 with another victory this weekend, though?
We think so. They should hold the advantage having already played a competitive game (albeit in a snoozefest), so there should be more familiarity with the game speed and gameplan. Bridgewater and some of the other more important players may see more action on the field this week too, another benefit, and we of course love the home-field advantage. With your NFL picks, we have a good feeing about Minnesota's chances of cashing.
NFL Pick: Minnesota Vikings -3.5 at 5Dimes