Cleveland Browns vs. Minnesota Vikings Matchup Preview (10/3/21): Betting Odds, Depth Charts, Live Stream (Watch Online)
Cleveland Browns vs. Minnesota Vikings Matchup Preview (10/3/21)
Even though we’re only just getting ready to start Week 4, it seems like the NFL playoff race is in full swing. Teams are already battling hard for the top spot in their divisions, and the AFC North and NFC North are no different. When the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings face off this Sunday, they’ll both get a chance to shake up their respective divisions. The Browns are coming off a dominant win over Chicago in which they outgained the Bears by 371 yards. Bears starting QB Justin Fields managed a single net passing yard as the Cleveland defense was dominant. Meanwhile, the Vikings mustered a major 30-17 win over the Seattle Seahawks as Minnesota got their first win of the season. After close losses the first few games of the season, the Vikes seemed poised with QB Kirk Cousins tossing three TDs in the first half alone.
Both teams are on a playoff push this season, each with different motivations. The Cleveland Browns snapped a major playoff drought when they took down the Steelers 48-37 in the Wild Card round. However, that optimism was deflated by a close loss to the AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings missed the playoffs altogether last year after an 0-3 start. Both teams are hungry for another dominant win, so let’s take a look at what to expect when the Cleveland Browns travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings this Sunday.
Cleveland Browns vs. Minnesota Vikings Betting Odds
This is one of my favorite matchups for Week 4. The Minnesota Vikings are simply fun to watch and the Cleveland Browns seem primed to compete in the strong AFC. But someone has to exit this game a winner, and the choice isn’t exactly easy.
I believe the defenses will be the most important factor in this game. We’ll truly find out if last week’s defensive performance by the Browns was because they were playing a bad team or if the pieces are finally falling in place. Myles Garrett will want to put up some more sacks against Kirk Cousins as he continues his bid for Defensive Player of the Year. However, something that worries me about backing up the Browns is the Vikings pass rush. Mayfield was just sacked five times against the Bears, and he’s facing a defensive front capable of taking down the quarterback.
Still, I don’t see the Vikings winning this one. Even if they put pressure on Mayfield, I don’t envision them having an answer for the Cleveland running attack. The Browns play best when they control the game, so I expect a balanced strategy to lead Cleveland to another win. But it’s going to be close. The Vikings offense is playing at too high a pace for the Browns to contain for 60 minutes, and both teams will put up points to keep up with one other. Expect the Browns to win by a field goal as the talented Vikings swallow another close loss this season. Before starting off as a pick-em days ago the line has been adjusted with the Cleveland Browns favored on the road -2.5.
My predictions: Browns win 30-27, Browns -2.5, over 53.4
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Date: Sunday, October 3rd
Time: 1:00 PM ET
Location: U.S. Bank Stadium – Minneapolis, MN
TV Coverage: CBS
Cleveland Browns vs. Minnesota Vikings Live Stream
Where can you watch Cleveland Browns vs. Minnesota Vikings online? You can stream this game, and many other NFL games live online with Hulu. Hulu has a 7 Day free trial and is cheaper than cable options at $5.99/month. Watch Cleveland Browns vs. Minnesota Vikings Free Online Now.
Cleveland Browns: LB Sione Takitaki (hamstring) Q, OT Chris Hubbard (triceps) Q, Greg Newsome II (calf) Q, WR Jarvis Landry (knee) IR
Minnesota Vikings: CB Harrison Hand (hamstring) Q, RB Dalvin Cook (ankle) Q, OT Christian Darrisaw (groin) Q, LB Anthony Barr (knee) Q, WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette (toe) Q
Cleveland Browns Analysis
How can you talk about the Cleveland Browns without mentioning their dominant running game? The team is managing 174.7 yards on the ground per game, second only to the Baltimore Ravens. The duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt is the envy of the league, as either back could easily be the lone starter for a team. Don’t expect the Browns to change up their ground-heavy attack on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the passing game is doing everything it needs to right now. QB Baker Mayfield isn’t tearing apart defenses, but he hasn’t really needed to. He’s completing 73.8% of his passes, easily the best of his career. He’s also been spreading it to all of his receivers, with his tight ends, running backs, and wide receivers all getting a piece of the pie. WR Odell Beckham Jr. had a successful comeback from injury last week, with five catches for 77 yards.
But the real story last week was the defense. After struggling the first two weeks, they absolutely put the hammer down on the Bears in a 26-6 win. The star of the game was DE Myles Garrett, who recorded 4.5 sacks alone in the win. The team already has 12 sacks on the year, and I’m expecting this aggressive pass rush to be a welcome strength for the Cleveland defense. The defensive backs need to show a bit more, with only a single interception in three games.
Cleveland Browns Depth Chart
Minnesota Vikings Analysis
Whether you like them or not, this is a fun Vikings team to watch. The offense is absolutely humming right now, and it all starts with QB Kirk Cousins. The veteran passer is currently completing 73.9% of his passes for 918 yards, eight touchdowns, and no interceptions. He’s also doing a great job of spreading it out to his receivers. Wide receivers Justin Jefferson, KJ Osborn, Adam Thielen have combined for 628 yards and seven touchdowns. The Browns defense may have some trouble covering such a talented trio in this matchup.
Losing your star running back would be a major setback for most offense-heavy teams. Not the Vikings. With RB Dalvin Cook out last game with an ankle injury, Alexander Mattison stepped in for 112 yards and a 4.3 average. Cook is still listed as questionable, but even if he has to split carries with Mattison against the Browns, the running game should be productive.
While I’m loving this offense right now, the Vikings defense is a major cause for concern. The team is currently allowing 409.7 yards per game, ranking 28th in the league. Considering some of the strong offenses they have to face, they’re going to need to tighten things up to compete in the NFC. One of the bright spots, though, has been the pass rush. The team is totaling 10 sacks on the year, with dominant defensive linemen Danielle Hunter and Michael Pierce combining for six sacks.
Minnesota Vikings Depth Chart
Cleveland Browns vs. Minnesota Vikings Daily Fantasy Picks
I’d stay away from Dalvin Cook this week. I fully expected him to play against the Seahawks before getting pulled from the lineup, making me wonder about the severity of his injury. Plus, at $8,100 on DraftKings, it’s simply too risky to put your money on a back that’s currently listed as questionable.
I do see some value with WR Odell Beckham Jr. here. He’s currently listed at $5,800 on DraftKings and seems to be back in business for the Browns. Cleveland will have to air it out a bit to keep up with the Vikings, and Beckham Jr. will need to contribute. With fellow receiver Jarvis Landy on injured reserve, expect Beckham to keep getting catches in his comeback from injury.
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