Josh Freeman is confusing (and other TNF thoughts)


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings aren't on national television often. But they are on my Game Rewind plenty. So let's get you up to speed on a few big trends from both teams this season.

Teams are begging Christian Ponder to pass

He's still not doing it. Minnesota is dead last in the NFL in plays over 20 yards. Ponder was not accurate last week against the Arizona Cardinals and made some startlingly poor decisions. He's also had some great moments -- like against the San Francisco 49ers -- but in general, he looks like a young quarterback who leaves the pocket too early. There have been games this season (vs. Detroit and Arizona) when the passing game barely existed.

This is a great week to break out. Tampa Bay's secondary is full of holes since Aqib Talib was lost to suspension.

Adrian Peterson can run against any front

You always hear that a running back can't perform because he's facing eight or nine defenders in the box. Peterson is running straight through them. His performance against Arizona was the best I've seen all year from a running back. He runs with ridiculous power, and his burst is all the way back after anterior cruciate ligament surgery.

Thursday, Dec. 13, 8 p.m. ET
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Antoine Winfield is insane

I usually pick one or two defensive players to watch during a game. It's hard to watch a cornerback on television, but Antoine Winfield shines on the "All-22" view. It's hard just finding where he lines up. He's as impactful as ever at age 35. The Vikings don't have a deep roster, but they have guys playing at elite levels like Peterson, Percy Harvin, Jared Allen, and Winfield.

Bucs not as bad as their record

Tampa Bay is 11th in points scored and 15th in points allowed. Every loss has been by one score. This is a very competitive team every week, and we expect another one-score game Thursday night.

Josh Freeman is confusing

You are never quite sure what you are going to get on a week-to-week basis. Even during his 400-yard game last week, he missed a lot of throws. He will make plays when protected well, but that's true of most NFL quarterbacks. NFL Films' Greg Cosell said this week that Freeman still plays a little slow in terms of making decisions. Overall, Freeman does look better than a year ago.

This is a big-play Bucs offense

Freeman's stats really bear this out. He's second in the league in yards per attempt, yet he's 31st in completion percentage. He leads the league in plays over 40 yards with eight. Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson are big-play threats, making this offense one that is a little boom or bust.

Doug Martin is coming on strong

He ran extremely hard against the New Orleans Saints last week. The diminutive back runs with surprising power and has been making defenders miss. Martin has 253 yards from scrimmage in two games since Tampa Bay's bye week, on only 34 touches. They should give him the ball more. He's a complete back, and the Bucs might go away from LeGarrette Blount in short-yardage situations after he was stuffed in a huge goal-line stand last week.

This could be a breakout game for Martin. The Vikings' defense has been strong overall, but they made LaRod Stephens-Howling look like Barry Sanders last week.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.