5 Bold Predictions: Minnesota Vikings vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Week 14

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Adam Thielen
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Adam Thielen /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports) Kirk Cousins /

Cousins will see plenty of blitzes from the Bucs’ defense

The Vikings’ revival since the bye week has been fueled by a reliance on the running game. While Dalvin Cook has answered the bell, defenses have adapted recently by sending extra attackers, and this has resulted in Minnesota seeing plenty of exotic blitzes.

According to Zone Coverage’s Sam Ekstrom, the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars blitzed the Vikings 43 times over the past two weeks. By comparison, Minnesota saw no more than 11 blitzes during a game in their previous 10 matchups.

The increased blitzing has shown added pressure on Kirk Cousins, who has been pressured 38 times the past two weeks, second in the NFL behind Justin Herbert (44) according to Pro Football Focus. To Cousins’ credit, he’s managed a 60.6 QB rating on those dropbacks, which is 14th in the NFL, but things will not get easier on Sunday against Tampa Bay.

The Bucs rank sixth in the NFL in blitz percentage (39.8 percent) this season and a lot of that has been due to the inability of their defensive line to create its own pressure. While it likely means that Cousins will be under duress, it might also create avenues for big plays downfield which Kansas City Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill took advantage of in Week 12 as he hung 269 yards and three touchdowns on the Tampa defense.

If Cousins can maintain his composure (and the Vikings call enough shots downfield), it could lead to a very nice game for the passing attack on Sunday.