The Vikings and the Browns head across the pond for this week’s London game. It’s been 4 years since these two teams last played and the Browns were able to win that contest. Unfortunately, this week is a different story as Cleveland is still searching for their first win of the season. Minnesota has a 1 game lead in the NFC North, have won 3 straight games, and look to pull away from the Packers and the Lions. Kickoff at Twickenham Stadium is at 9:30 AM ET.
The Vikings (5-2) are coming off a 24-16 win over the Ravens and look to make it their 4th win in a row, at the expense of the Browns. Minnesota is quietly putting together a solid year, despite having to play without their starting quarterback and starting running back. Their success is largely due to their solid defense.
The Browns (0-7) can’t seem to get out of their own way. They also can’t seem to settle on a quarterback as they’ve shuffled through 3 different QB’s over the last few games, largely due to inadequate play. Cleveland does have a solid defense, but they’re on the field too long and are worn out by the end of the game. The Browns are coming off a tough loss to Tennessee in overtime.
The spread opened at +7.5 for the Browns, and it has gone up to +9.5. The Over/Under opened at 37.5 points and has gone up to 38 total points.
As confident as I am in the fact that the Vikings will win, I’m not confident that they will beat the Browns by double digit points. So, I feel more comfortable with the Under in this game as both defenses are better than their offenses.
For the Vikings, they rank 5th in the NFL for points allowed at just 17 ppg. The Browns allow 24 points, but that’s largely due to their offense not staying on the field for sustained drives and not putting up enough points. In fact, Cleveland’s offense is only scoring 14.7 ppg and I don’t see them getting more than that this weekend.
The Vikings and the Browns have two of the top 5 rush defenses in the league, which means both offenses are going to struggle against the run this week. That leaves the bulk of the scoring to the passing game, which hasn’t been that successful for either offense. The Vikings average 243 passing ypg (14th) and the Browns (21st) average 229 passing ypg. And, neither team really lights up the scoreboard as the Vikings are 19th in the league with 20.9 ppg and the Browns (as mentioned) are 31st at 14.7 ppg. Even if you combine their season averages, that still keeps you a field goal below the Under.
Cleveland hasn’t scored more than 17 points in the month of October and the Vikings have only scored a high of 24 during the month. For October, Minnesota is averaging 18.5 ppg and the Browns are averaging just under 12ppg. Once again, their combined totals come well below the Over/Under line.
2 out of Cleveland’s last 3 games have been low scoring at 21 and 31 total points. The Under has hit 11 out of the last 15 Browns games and 4 out of the last 6 Vikings games.
I expect the Browns to play inspired football since the world will be watching. They will keep this game close. It should be a fun, defensive battle with the Vikings coming out on top 17-9. Look for both backup quarterbacks to feel the pressure of the opposing defenses. I do believe the Vikings will force a few turnovers and that will be the difference in this tight matchup.