NFL Week 1 Preseason Betting – Winston Set for Tampa Debut vs. Vikes
Zack GarrisonNo comments
NFL fans will get their first look at 2015 No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston tonight when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers open their preseason schedule against the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis (8:00 PM Eastern).
Winston won all but one game in his two years with the Florida State Seminoles, but he might not have the same luck in the pros, coming to a Tampa team that won just two games last year. The rookie is apparently having trouble adjusting to the athleticism of the defenders in the pro game.
“I think the biggest difference is the linebackers,” Winston recently told ESPN. “In college, you don’t have linebackers that can actually defend the pass. These guys out here, you know, they’re jumping seam routes.”
Winston will likely play the first quarter, at the most, tonight, but that should be enough to get a bit of a read on his progress, as Minnesota boasts a top-flight pass defense which finished seventh in the league last year (223 yards per game).
Just like Winston, Minnesota’s second-year QB Teddy Bridgewater will have a lot to prove this season. Bridgewater had a decent rookie year, but he needs to make the leap from game manager to offensive threat if the Vikes are going to challenge for a playoff spot.
“They both certainly have the potential to be two great quarterbacks in this league,” Vikings wide receiver Charles Johnson said of Bridgewater and Winston. “Hopefully, our guy grows, and [Winston] grows as well. If they continue to work and continue to develop, the sky is the limit.”
Winston will be backed up by Mike Glennon (who spent some time as the Tampa starter last year) and Northern Colorado product Seth Lobato (who has never thrown a pass in the league). On the other side, Minnesota will turn the reigns over to Shaun Hill, Taylor Heinicke, and Mike Kafka once Bridgewater leaves the game. Kafka impressed in the Hall of Fame game, going 7/10 for 70 yards, one TD, and no picks. He should see a significant number of snaps tonight.
Both head coaches (Tampa’s Lovie Smith and Minny’s Mike Zimmer) are in their second year. Smith went 1-3 in the preseason last year while Zimmer went 4-0, and already won the Hall of Fame game against the Pittsburgh Steelers a week ago. If you’re going wager on tonight’s game, the Vikings (-3.5) look like better value, given that they’re at home, they already have a game under their belt, and Kafka has proved he can move the ball.
Pick: Vikings (-3.5).