I’m watching because I’m a Browns fan. Last week the Browns defeated the Bears and the Vikings beat the Seahawks. This week the Browns travel to Minnesota to play the Vikings at Noon CST. So what am I watching this week?
Browns Defense vs. Vikings Offense. The Vikings offense is explosive. Over the last 10 games, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is third in touchdowns, second in yards, third in completion percentage and third in fewest interceptions. Cousins has gone over 200 passes without an interception and has a pass release time of 2.40 seconds, the best in the league. The team is top 10 in yards per game, 11th in third-down conversions and 63% in the red zone. The Vikings average 297 passing yards and 128 rushing yards per game. This will be the best offense the Browns have faced since playing Kansas City in week one. Cousins has two very talented wide receivers in Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, The Vikings can run the ball with Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison. The Vikings offensive line is very average, but because Cousins has such a quick release, they have only given up five sacks. 70% of Cousins’ passes are caught nine yards past the line of scrimmage. About 500 of the Vikings’ 891 passing yards have come after the catch. The Browns need to pressure Cousins (he is 51.7% when pressured as opposed to 74% when not pressured). Since 2018, Cousins has 42 batted down passes, most in the NFL. Browns defenders need to get into the passing lanes close to the line of scrimmage which means potential good games from Ronnie Harrison, Grant Delpit, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Malcom Smith. Defense coordinator Joe Woods must be very creative with his blitz and coverage schemes.
Browns Offense Vs. Vikings Defense. The Vikings defense is 28th in the NFL in yards given up. They’re 20th against the run and 29th against the pass. They allow 6.8 yards per play. The Vikings pressure 36.4% (seventh in the league) and have a 58.2% pass rush win rate (12th in the league). They are very good on third down allowing a 29% conversion rate. However, in the red zone, they have a 75% conversion rate. In run defense, the Vikings allow 119.3 yards a game. This year any opposing running back who has 12 or more carries averages over 80 yards and a touchdown per game. In the passing defense, the Vikings top three cornerbacks, Patrick Peterson, Bashaud Breeland and Mackensie Alexander have allowed opposing quarterbacks to go 38 of 45 for 576 yards and a QBR of 157.9. The Browns need to start fast, continue to run the ball and see if they get Odell Beckham, Jr. lined up against Bashaud Breeland. Against the blitz, QB Baker Mayfield needs to get rid of the ball quickly, employ more rollouts and continue to use screen passes to Chubb and Hunt. With OL Chris Hubbard being ruled out for this game, LT Jedrick Wills is going to need help blocking Vikings DE Danielle Hunter who leads the Vikings with four sacks. Finally, don’t turn the ball over. The Browns are undefeated under HC Kevin Stefanski when they don’t have a turnover.
Special Teams. Keep letting RB Demetric Felton return punts and stop committing stupid penalties.
The Browns have yet to play a complete game this season. This would be the perfect time to start. Everyone enjoy the game.