Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) at Minnesota Vikings (5-2)
Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network, Brad Nessler, Mike Mayock, Alex Flanagan
Last meeting: The Buccaneers rallied from a 17-0 halftime deficit to beat the Vikings 24-20. RB LeGarrette Blount barreled in for a 4-yard TD with 31 seconds left.
Streaking: The Buccaneers have won five straight games against Minnesota, dating to 2011, and eight of the last 11.
Giving and receiving: Big plays in the passing game have fueled the Buccaneers' offense and torched their defense. Balance, in the form of RBs Doug Martin and Blount, is Tampa's aim to assist LT Donald Penn against DE Jared Allen. He has six sacks and a forced fumble this season. The Buccaneers can fall back on Josh Freeman's arm; WRs Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams are first and second in the NFC in yards per catch. If Jackson's calf doesn't limit him, the Vikings would pit Williams against single coverage. CB Antoine Winfield, a 14-year veteran, has wowed the Vikings with his recent play, including going all 71 snaps last week. Martin averages 4.1 yards per carry, but of late has been a bigger contributor in the passing game.
Yo-yo Adrian: With 120 yards in the first half of last year's loss to the Buccaneers, RB Adrian Peterson was on his way to another dominant day. Tampa enters Week 8 third in the NFL against the run and geared to take away Peterson, whose tender ankle shouldn't keep him out; Peterson had a season-high 153 yards last week while Arizona put eight and nine defenders in the box. The Bucs are 31st against the pass (323 yards per game) and despite depth issues on the back end will roll the dice, daring Christian Ponder to win the game through the air. Percy Harvin is a tough cover, lining up all across the formation. CB Eric Wright draws that assignment. Jerome Simpson, near full strength after leg weakness made him a non-factor for the third straight game, has the pure speed to strain the secondary.
Need to know: Ponder has six interceptions in the past three games and three turnovers in the red zone in the past two games that led to 21 points. ... The Buccaneers have multiple takeaways in four of six games this season.