Vikings Week 1 Opponent puts League on notice

December 13, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs with the ball as Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis (24) tackles during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Training camp for the Minnesota Vikings’ 2023 campaign begins with rookies reporting on Sunday, July 23, and the remaining players reporting on Tuesday, July 25. After seven weeks of rigorous preparation at the TCO Performance Center in Eagan, Minnesota, the Vikings face a challenging Week 1, despite some individuals’ expectations. It’s worth noting that a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back is frustrated with the lack of respect his team is receiving nationwide.

Vikings Week 1 Opponent puts League on notice

Vikings Week 1 Opponent puts League on notice
December 18, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (1) lines up against Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis III (24) in the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The big theme in Tampa Bay is of course the retirement of Tom Brady, the greatest football player of all time. No team can be the same after his departure. Most expect Tampa’s decline to become irrelevant after reaching the postseason in all three seasons with Brady under center, but cornerback Carlton Davis doesn’t think so, warning the NFL via Go long.

“We’re about to do that to them. Anyone who feels we’ve lost Tom – and lost something – will be in for a rude awakening. A rude awakening. Tom was a great addition for us, but of course it’s a team sport. Obviously you need components to be successful. We still have those components. And I’m only getting better.”

The team went 8-8 with Jameis Winston at QB before Brady joined the team and immediately used his superpowers to win the Super Bowl. Baker Mayfield is now expected to start against the Vikes in Week 1, a player closer to Winston than Brady.

Brady still passed for 4,694 yards, 25 TDs and just 9 INTs in what was considered a down year for the future first-ballot Hall of Famer. Mayfield has thrown for a total of 27 TDs and 21 INTs in the last two seasons for three different teams.

Vikings Start 2023
1 January 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) congratulates wide receiver Mike Evans (13) after scoring a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers in the fourth quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports.

Davis is right about something though. There are still many outstanding players on that list. Mayfield will throw to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin with Tristan Wirfs protecting him while the majority of the strong defensive unit returns. Davis raved about his defense: “We’re going to wreck s—. Like, wreck s—. Interceptions. Turnovers. Plays will be made. I’ll say. Plays. Will. Be. Made.”

The Buccaneers weren’t a great team last season, but for some reason they were able to play extremely well in the clutch, another one of Brady’s superpowers. It was enough for an 8-9 record that earned them the division. The NFC South was easily the worst division in the NFL in 2022. Tampa Bay was blown out by the Cowboys in their home playoff game in the wild-card round. Davis expects the division to be bad again. “And our f——g division is worse than it was before. So we run through the division. Make the playoffs. Run through the playoffs and it’s the Super Bowl.”

January 8, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield (17) passes against the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers have an overall win prediction of 6.5 at most sportsbooks. It’s a longshot that the Buccaneers can make a serious run this coming season, but it’s the NFL, so nothing should ever be ruled out.

For the Vikings, their Week 1 matchup doesn’t appear to be the picnic some fans are expecting. Davis and his teammates clearly believe in themselves and will have a chip on their shoulders when they see their odds. Still, the Vikings are favored by almost a touchdown and absolutely need to win the game, as the following opponents will not be easy.

Kevin O’Connell’s new-look side face the Eagles next and a 0-2 start would put them at a huge disadvantage. In Week 3, the Chargers come to town, followed by a road game against Adam Thielen’s Panthers. The Chiefs come to Minneapolis in Week 5.

Tampa Bay’s game at US Bank Stadium will be a noon game on September 10.

Janik Eckardt is a soccer fan who likes numbers and statistics. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking football encyclopedia, loves to watch sitcoms and classic rock is his favorite music genre. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt

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