Minnesota Vikings (1-2) host the Cleveland Browns (2-1) Week 4, Preview
Updated: Oct 2
If you are at least 3 years old, the majority of your life has seen the Browns as one of worst franchises in all of sports. Some have even referred to them as the "Minnesota Timberwolves" of the NFL. Classic. Unfortunately, these are not the same Cleveland Browns we have grown used to. The days of the 1-31 record they had in a 2-season stretch is in the distant memory for the Browns. Those were the days when they were such a dumpster fire of a team, that there was actually a dumpster fire once that occurred just outside of First Energy Stadium! They were so bad a couple years back that a beer company said they would give away free beers to everyone in the world the next time the Browns earned a win. Today, Cleveland puts out a very strong football team, something the state has only been able to say when speaking about THE Ohio State Buckeyes as of late.
Last time the Vikings and Browns faced off was in 2017 in London. The Vikings won the game handily, Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski was on the Vikings coaching staff (was a coach for the Vikings for 14 seasons), Case Keenum was the Vikings starting QB (he is now the Browns backup QB), and the MPLS Miracle was scheduled for a couple months later. This season, though, we should expect to have a very entertaining game between these 2 teams on Sunday.
The Vikings offense and defense have both had their ups and downs already in the first 3 games this year. The Vikings were able to play a near flawless game in Week 3 against the Seahawks at home, to improve to 1-2. The offense was able to score 3 passing touchdowns, have great running back play from Alexander Mattison with Cook being sidelined, Kicker Greg Joseph went 3-3 on his field goals, and the defense was able to keep the dangerous Russell Wilson in check for the majority of the game. Cook should return to the field, but if they let him rest one more week, Mattison has shown over the last couple years that he can step in and be a real threat in his own right. Cousins will, again, need to take care of the ball. The fact that he has not committed a single turnover in the first 3 games is remarkable by his standards, but also has me extremely worried. He could be due for one of his patented 3 turnover games, especially since the Browns will feature the best defense we will face this season so far...and it may look even better considering we just played the Seahawk's non-existent defense just last week.
The Browns are having a really nice start to the season and are probably a top-5 most balanced team in the NFL. They come in at 2-1, with their only loss coming to the Kansas City Chiefs in a tightly contested game in Week 1. The Browns offense is led by famous commercial actor, Baker Mayfield, but where they do most of their damage is out of the backfield. They have 2 Running Backs that perfectly compliment each other in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. They both have the ability to rush, receive, and could both be starters in the NFL if they weren't on the same team. Nick Chubb is used much more as a a traditional RB, while Kareem Hunt is used more in the passing game. Both can be deadly and if/when one of them isn't having a good game, it is more than likely the other one is carrying the load for the offense. The receiving core for the Browns is missing Jarvis Landry due to injury, but they do have some good TEs as well as superstar WR Odell Beckham Jr for Baker Mayfield to throw to. The Vikings defense if going to have to stop Chubb and Hunt if they are going to win this game.
I said in an earlier post, after we started 0-2, the Vikings needed to win 3 of their next 4 games to get to 3-3. As much as I want the Vikings to beat the Browns, I just don't see that happening, even at home. The Vikings will get the other 2 wins against the Lions and Panthers in the next 2 weeks to improve to 3-3, but this week the Vikings will fall at home to the Browns, 31-23. I expect it to be a close game throughout the first half and possibly into the 3rd quarter, but the combination of the Browns defense, the backfield duo of Chubb and Hunt, and the overall leadership with Kevin Stefanski and Baker Mayfield will prove to be too much for the Vikings as we fall to 1-3.