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The Cleveland Browns just posted 9 total sacks against the Bears (half of them were by DE Myles Garrett), winning their second game of the season led by quarterback Baker Mayfield who now has star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. back in the lineup along with their two-headed backfield running machine, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, aka CHUNT.
The Minnesota Vikings offense starring veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins, dual-purpose running back Dalvin Cook, and receiver Adam Thielen are ranked third in the league after three games, but it’s the 27th ranked Minnesota defense (or sixth-worst) could be trouble, especially given that the Vikings have only covered the spread in one of its last six games at US Bank Stadium.
These two cross-conference rivals have met up 16 prior times (including 1 postseason game), with the Minnesota Vikings winning 12 of those games and the Cleveland Browns winning the other 4 games.
Second-year defensive coordinator Joe Woods was essentially handicapped last year with injuries to several of his key starters (cornerback Greedy Williams and safety Grant Delpit), but now in 2021 he has those players back and then some, his side of the ball greatly enhanced by GM Andrew Barry this offseason.
It’s an embarrassment of defensive riches for Woods, his squad stacked to the roof with playmakers like DEs Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, plus now his secondary has speed and talent featuring CBs Denzel Ward and rookie Greg Newsome in coverage.
Add to that mix some solid linebacker help with rookie Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah who posted four tackles, one quarterback hit, one tackle for a loss, and two passes defensed in the Browns’ 26-6 win over the Bears on Sunday, a defense that must keep Vikings QB Cousins in check.
It must be on Vikings Kirk Cousins’ mind right now, the fact that the Browns managed 9 total sacks in their thorough defeat of the Bears in Week 3, with DE Myles Garrett setting a franchise record with 4.5 sacks in that one.
Cousins also know that lining up with Garrett is free agent DE Jadeveon Clowney, so now Minnesota’s offensive line can double team Garrett far less often, something that might make the Vikings quarterback secretly nervous.
This season, though, Cousins has only been sacked five times and he has thrown no interceptions to date, so this should be a fun battle to watch, one that could dictate the outcome of this game, especially if the Vikings front line cannot hold.
After missing thirteen games to injury, Browns star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is back healthy much to the relief of a Browns team that just lost a key receiver, Jarvis Landry, to a knee-MCL injury, leaving the field wide open for the speedy OBJ.
Last week, Beckham said his legs weren’t quite there under him just yet, still, he led the team with 5 receptions for 77 yards with no scores yet, so it is just a matter of time for the Pro Bowl receiver who has yet to have a breakout year with the Browns.
Cleveland’s offense finally took off last season coincidentally right when Beckham went down, so now it is up to the former NFL Rookie of the Year to prove that he is a help (not a hindrance) to his quarterback Baker Mayfield as their Browns look to get back to the postseason.
The key to beating the Browns is to keep them from effectively running, and the perfect recipe for that is Vikings’ linebacker Eric Kendricks, the All-Pro who has been a Viking since 2015 when they drafted him in the second round.
Kendricks has been a tackling machine, his 37 tackles in 2021 second in the league right now, the veteran with 676 career tackles and 10 career sacks plus 23 quarterback hits, 4 forced fumbles and 4 fumble recoveries along with 7 interceptions that led to two touchdowns.
Good luck tackling a full-speed CHUNT rushing out of the backfield, but that is exactly what Kendricks and his linebacker crew (Nick Vigil, Anthony Barr, and Patrick Peterson) must do if they expect to keep Sunday’s score anywhere close.
|Browns vs Vikings Information|
|Teams||Cleveland Browns vs Minnesota Vikings|
|Location||US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN|
|Time||Sunday, October 3, 2021; 1:00 PM ET|
|How to watch||CBS|
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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