Bucs at Vikings: Scouting report

After the Bucs defense was torched by the Saints on Sunday, the Vikings present a better matchup despite their 5-2 record. Running back Adrian Peterson appears recovered from last season's torn ACL and MCL, and second-year quarterback Christian Ponder is improved. But the Bucs have been stout against the run, and Ponder doesn't present nearly the challenge that Drew Brees did.

Vikings' top offensive player

Adrian Peterson ran for 153 yards in Sunday's win against Arizona. His comeback from the torn ligaments sustained Dec. 24 is one of the league's biggest stories this season.

Vikings' top defensive player

End Jared Allen had 22 sacks in 2011 — one-half off the record — and already has six in 2012. Against Detroit on Sept. 30, he had seven QB pressures.

What the Vikings do best

Run a balanced offense. Percy Harvin, left, gives them a big-play threat, but Adrian Peterson's running keeps teams honest.

How you beat the Vikings

Convert on third down. The Vikings have allowed opponents to convert 43.7 percent of third downs, 24th in the league. There's an opportunity to keep the Vikings offense on the sideline and the Bucs defense fresh.

Bucs must avoid …

Coverage mistakes like they had against the Giants and Saints. The Vikings don't throw as much as those teams, but the Bucs secondary, missing cornerback Aqib Talib, is a bit thin.

Projected starters

BUCS OFFENSE

WR: Vincent Jackson

LT: Donald Penn

LG: Carl Nicks

C: Jeremy Zuttah

RG: Jamon Meredith

RT: Demar Dotson

TE: Dallas Clark

WR: Mike Williams

QB: Josh Freeman

RB: Doug Martin

FB: Erik Lorig

DEFENSE

LDE: Michael Bennett

DT: Gerald McCoy

DT: Roy Miller

RDE: Daniel

Te'o-Nesheim

SLB: Quincy Black

MLB: Mason Foster

WLB: Lavonte David

CB: E.J. Biggers

CB: Eric Wright

SS: Mark Barron

FS: Ronde Barber

special teams

PR: Roscoe Parrish

KR: Arrelious Benn

PK: Connor Barth

P/KO: Michael Koenen

Vikings OFFENSE

WR: Jerome Simpson

LT: Matt Kalil

LG: Charlie Johnson

C: John Sullivan

RG: Brandon Fusco

RT: Phil Loadholt

TE: Kyle Rudolph

TE: Rhett Ellison

WR: Stephen Burton

QB: Christian Ponder

RB: Adrian Peterson

DEFENSE

LDE: Brian Robison

DT: Letroy Guion

DT: Kevin Williams

RDE: Jared Allen

SLB: Chad Greenway

MLB: Jasper Brinkley

WLB: Erin Henderson

CB: Antonio Winfield

CB: Chris Cook

SS: Jamarca Sanford

FS: Harrison Smith

special teams

PR: Marcus Sherels

KR: Percy Harvin

PK/KO: Blair Walsh

P: Chris Kluwe

Prediction

Bucs 24, Vikings 22

Injury report

Bucs Questionable: CB Brandon McDonald (ankle). Probable: LB Adam Hayward (ankle), WR Vincent Jackson (calf), G Carl Nicks (foot), C Jeremy Zuttah (quadriceps).

VIKINGS Out: TE John Carlson (concussion), S Mistral Raymond (ankle). Probable: DE Jared Allen (groin), RB Matt Asiata (knee), S Robert Blanton (hamstring), DT Fred Evans (knee), T Matt Kalil (back), LB Marvin Mitchell (calf), RB Adrian Peterson (ankle), QB Christian Ponder (knee), WR Jerome Simpson (back, foot), S Harrison Smith (calf), CB Antoine Winfield (knee).

Bucs at Vikings: Scouting report 10/24/12 [Last modified: Thursday, October 25, 2012 2:10pm]

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