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 Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports) Dalvin Cook /

Tampa Bay’s defense will slow down Cook

Stopping Dalvin Cook has been a tall task since the Vikings’ Week 7 bye. Since then, Cook ranks first in the NFL with 761 rushing yards and sixth in Pro Football Focus’ overall grade.

As the centerpiece of Minnesota’s offense, these numbers are expected. But he may take a back seat on Sunday afternoon.

That’s because Minnesota will have a challenge in the trenches neutralizing the Bucs’ run defense. Tampa Bay ranks first in the NFL in rushing yardage allowed (890) and yards allowed per carry (3.3).

While the Bucs’ front seven has had its issues in coverage, stopping the run hasn’t been a challenge for Shaquil Barrett or Devin White and this could cause problems for the Vikings on Sunday.

Adding to the challenge is the lack of personnel Minnesota could have going into this matchup. Irv Smith Jr. is questionable with a back injury and Kyle Rudolph didn’t practice this week due to a foot injury. Smith and Rudolph potentially sitting out on Sunday could leave the Vikings with Tyler Conklin as the lone tight end on the roster.

As a team that loves to run two tight end sets, this could be a big problem for the running game, and it could force Minnesota to adjust their offensive game plan.