Buccaneers vs Vikings: Christian Ponder Set to Explode Against vs Tampa Bay D

Chris TrapassoAnalyst IOctober 25, 2012

Oct 21, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) throws during the second quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at the Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Christian Ponder is incrementally improving in every facet of being an NFL quarterback. 

In 2011, Christian Ponder played in 11 games for the Minnesota Vikings. 

He had 158 completions on 291 attempts (54.3 completion percentage) and threw for 1,853 yards with 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. 

Through seven games in 2012, he has already completed 152 passes on 64 fewer passes (67.0 completion percentage) and has thrown for 1,492 yards with nine touchdowns and six interceptions. 

Extrapolate his current numbers out to a full 16-game schedule, and he's on pace for a 3,410-yard, 21-touchdown, 14-interception season.

Not bad for a second-year guy that a year ago seemed extremely out of sorts on an NFL field. 

Thursday night, Ponder gets a prime opportunity to bounce back from a putrid performance against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 7 and throw for over 300 yards for the third time in his young career. 

Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary, he'll accomplish that feat en route to victory. 

Greg Schiano's defense on a per-carry basis is the most stingy run-stopping unit in football. They allow 3.1 yards per rush. 

But they've been absolutely shredded against the pass in 2012. Teams have noticed many glaring weaknesses in the Buccaneers' defensive backfield and have stopped at nothing to exploit them. 

Tampa Bay is allowing the second-most passing yards per game in the league—321—and the opposition has attempted a whopping 233 passes against them, or nearly 39 passes per contest. 

When Ponder faced the Washington Redskins in Week 6, the only secondary more susceptible than the Buccaneers, he went 35-of-52 for 352 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Adrian Peterson remains the heart-and-soul of the Vikings offense, but the Minnesota coaching staff and Ponder himself will not relinquish an opportunity to utilize the group of underrated pass catchers in a major way this evening. 

Look for Percy Harvin, Kyle Rudolph and even Michael Jenkins to have big evenings. 

While the battle between Peterson and Tampa Bay's stout run defense will rage on all evening, Ponder will steal the show against a Buccaneers secondary that's exceptionally vulnerable. 

Expect over 300 yards and a few touchdown passes as the Vikings escape with a close win.