Browns Vs Vikings: How Minnesota has won one, lost two

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The Cleveland Browns face off with Kevin Stefanski’s old team, the Minnesota Vikings, in Week 4 of the NFL season. Browns Vs Vikings could be a very interesting game with talented players littered all over both rosters.

While the Browns are a slight favorite, the home team Vikings present a far better challenge than either of the visitor’s last two opponents, despite their 1 – 2 record.

Minnesota is fresh off a dominating victory over the Seattle Seahawks at home where the offense exploded and the defense made timely plays.

Taking a quick look at the Vikings first three games, we want to get an idea of what led to their losses and what led to their win.

Loss to the Bengals

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In Week 1, the Vikings allowed the Cincinnati Bengals to get out to a big lead, 21 – 7, early in the third quarter before storming back to tie the game at 24 – 24 with a field goal as time expired in regulation.

The Bengals would pull out the victory in overtime with a field goal.

For Minnesota, the pass game was prolific under Cousins with 351 yards and two touchdowns but the team struggled to get their running game going but not for lack of attempts. Dalvin Cook rushed the ball 20 times but only had 61 yards on the ground. Without the balance, the Vikings had to play catchup through the air.

Keeping any team one-dimensional can help opponents win. For the Browns, who have smaller, faster players at many positions, stopping the run so they can rush the passer is vital to their success on defense.

The Bengals were highly successful running the ball against Minnesota with Joe Mixon carrying it 29 times for 127 yards. Samaje Perrine added 22 yards on five carries. Cleveland will unleash their two-headed monster backfield of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt looking to achieve similar results.

The quality run game allowed Joe Burrow to hit a couple of deep passes, something Baker Mayfield loves to do as well.

Loss to the Cardinals

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The Vikings learned their lesson from Week 1 and didn’t let the Arizona Cardinals get out to a big early lead. In fact, Minnesota held a 20 – 7 lead late into the first half. The two teams battled for the lead the rest of the way with a failed extra point ending up being the difference.

Cook was able to be more productive in Week 2 with 22 carries for 131 yards. That balance kept Cousins’ attempts down to 32 but he still had three touchdowns.

The Cardinals offense was almost completely Kyler Murray passing and running. Their two back combined for less than 80 yards on 16 carries. Murray threw for 400 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Arizona kept the Vikings in the game with their turnovers and lack of balance on offense. The Cardinals inability to get pressure on Cousins, only one sack, shows the importance of the run game for Minnesota’s offense to keep defenses on their heels.

The mixed extra point in the second quarter could have dramatically impacted decision-making from both sides so we don’t know what the results may have been if it had been made. We do know that Murray’s play, along with using a variety of receivers in the passing game, was the big difference.

Can Mayfield have the same success while also using the run game to keep the Vikings off balance? Can the Browns defense shut down one part of the home team’s offense, preferably the run game, to have an advantage?

Win against the Seahawks

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In what many saw as a surprise, the Vikings handed it to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 3. Seattle took a 17 – 7 lead in the second quarter but failed to score after that while Minnesota ripped off the last five scores of the game.

The Vikings offense was once again balanced with Alexander Mattison taking over for the injured Cook. Mattison had 26 carries for 112 yards. Cousins continued his hot streak with 323 yards passing and three touchdowns.

Seattle had an average game where they didn’t make too many mistakes but weren’t able to take enough advantage of the Vikings. Minnesota pressured Russell Wilson a ton, despite only two sacks.

The Vikings offense put a lot of pressure on the Seahawks offense to perform but Wilson and company were not able to match the home team’s production on Sunday.

With similar offensive systems, the team that controls the game on offense will likely control the game on the scoreboard. Neither team has to put up 40 points to win but must dictate the game flow with their run game and play-action passing. Against Seattle, Minnesota did just that.

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