The Browns are looking for their first road win of the season as they take on the Vikings. Here is everything you need to know for the game.
Cleveland comes into the game off one of the best defensive performances in franchise history as they held the Chicago Bears to 47 yards of total offense and one net passing yard while racking up nine sacks.
The Vikings picked up their first win of the season against the Seattle Seahawks after opening the campaign with a pair of close losses.
The game will be a homecoming for Cleveland head coach Kevin Stefanski as he spent 14 seasons as an assistant coach with the Vikings before taking over the Browns.
The Browns have only won twice all-time in Minnesota, so let’s take a look at what you need to know, along with some storylines, as the Browns look to pick up their third consecutive win of the season and stay atop the AFC North Division.
Records: Cleveland is 2-1. Minnesota is 1-2.
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Stadium: U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota
TV: WOIO (Channel 19), CBS
Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Trent Green, Melanie Collins (sidelines)
Radio: 92.3 The Fan (WKRK), ESPN 850 WKNR and WNCX (98.5)
Announcers: Jim Donovan, Doug Dieken, Nathan Zegura (sideline reporter)
Last meeting: The Vikings won the last meeting, 33-16, in Week 8 of the 2017 season. (Boxscore)
All-time series: Minnesota leads the all-time series 11-4, and the Browns are just 2-7 all-time on the road against the Vikings.
Weather: The Vikings play in a domed stadium with a transparent roof, so weather is not an issue this week.
Uniform: The Browns will be wearing white jerseys with brown pants
White Tops & Browns Pants pic.twitter.com/9apIfXv7Qw
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) October 1, 2021
Injury report: Browns – Questionable: center JC Tretter (knee), left tackle Jedrick Wills (ankle) and linebacker Sione Takitaki (hamstring). Out: Offensive lineman Chris Hubbard (triceps) and cornerback Greg Newsome II (calf).
Vikings – Questionable: running back Dalvin Cook (ankle), defensive tackle Michael Pierce (elbow/shoulder), linebacker Anthony Barr (knee) and defensive back Kris Boyd (hamstring). Out: wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette (toe).
The line: Browns -2
A Few Things to Watch For
Greedy’s return: Cornerback Greedy Williams returns to the starting lineup on Sunday for the first time since Week 17 of the 2019 season.
And it will likely not be a slow day at the office.
Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins, who has eight touchdown passes and no interceptions so far this season, will certainly test Williams early and often on Sunday. Williams will be lined up at times opposite wide receiver Adam Thielen, who has four touchdown receptions through three games, or wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who is coming off a game against the Seattle Seahawks where he finished with nine receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown.
How Williams holds up in his first significant playing time since his rookie season will go a long way toward helping the Browns come home with a win.
Jedrick Wills’ ankle: Left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. has struggled since injuring his ankle in Week 1 as he has had to leave the game at times in each of the past two weeks.
It was painful at times watching Wills against the Chicago Bears try to get himself set to pass block as he appeared to actually be hopping on one foot at times. That led to him giving up a team-high four pressures and helped contribute to quarterback Baker Mayfield taking five sacks.
The Vikings defensive line may not be on par with the Bears, but Minnesota still has Danielle Hunter, who has four of the team’s 10 sacks, and Everson Griffen. According to ESPN Stats & Information, when Hunter and Griffin have been on the field together in five of the past six seasons, the Vikings have led the NFL in pressure rate (32 percent), sack rated (8.3 percent) and yards allowed per play (5.0).
In an ideal situation the Browns could sit Wills for a week, but with Chris Hubbard still out with a triceps injury, the club does not have much choice but to keep playing Wills, especially after the way that Blake Hance struggled against the Bears while Wills was out.
Feed Chubb and Hunt: If the Browns need to slow down Minnesota’s pass rush, they could do worse than just simply hand the ball to running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
Minnesota is allowing 4.8 yards per carry, tied for fourth-most in the league, while Chubb is third in rushing yards and is averaging 5.5 yards per carry, and Hunt has 269 yards from scrimmage and is averaging 5.7 yards per carry.
The Vikings have yet to face a rushing attack like Cleveland’s, so if things start to break down, the Browns can always go old school and pound Minnesota with a steady diet of Chubb and Hunt.
A final quote
Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt (via a team-provided transcript):
“Obviously, we have to get the ball in our best players’ hands, and Odell is one of those guys, but not at the expense of jeopardizing the offense and the system. Yeah, there was some growth in that area for sure. O will continue to be a big part of this offense moving forward, and he will continue to have more catches and more production as the year goes on.”
These are just a few things to keep an eye on; now it is time to have your say. What are you looking for from the Browns in Sunday’s game against the Vikings?