Cleveland Browns vs. Minnesota Vikings Point Spread Winner
Cleveland Browns (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS) vs. Minnesota Vikings (1-2 SU, 2-1 ATS)
Date/Time: Sunday, October 4, 1:00 EST
Where: US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis
Point Spread: Cle -1 / Min +1 (Bookmaker - Online since the 1990’s!)
Over/Under Total: 53.5
The Minnesota Viking play hosts former Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski and his Cleveland Browns in an inter-conference battle Sunday. BETANYSPORTS (best lines) has made the Vikings 1 point home dogs and set the game total at 53.5. The Vikings turned it on last week for their first win of the 2021 campaign, so let’s look for them to extend that streak and buy a Viking ticket. Here are three reasons.
The Viking Offense Is Red Hot
Minnesota’s offense is firing on all cylinders to open the season. Kirk Cousins has been one of the best quarterbacks through 3 contests this year. He is completing 74% of his attempts, averaging 306 yards per game, and has thrown eight touchdowns against 0 interceptions. Second-year man Justin Jefferson started a little slow but turned it on last week and has established himself as a top 5 receiver in the league. The complimentary pieces Adam Thielen, K.J. Osborn, and tight end Tyler Conklin have combined for 38 catches in 3 weeks and accounted for 6 of Cousins’ touchdowns. The passing game is set up by the rushing attack led by either Dalvin Cook or Alexander Mattison in Cook’s absence. Cook is one of the few three-down backs remaining in the league and should be back on the field this week after missing last week with ankle issues. Mattison proved that the offense is very friendly to running backs last week when he stepped in and went off for 171 yards from scrimmage. The Browns defense is more formidable than Seattle was in Week 3 but will not be able to shut down this multi-pronged attack. Jefferson can stretch the field, and Thielen is a master at getting open in the end zone or past the sticks for a first down.
The Brown defense absolutely dominated the Bears last week in Cleveland, embarrassing rookie Justin Fields in his first start. They sacked Fields 8 times and allowed Chicago only 47 total yards. That doesn’t tell us much about what to expect this week. The Browns couldn’t contain the Chiefs – which also may not tell us much about this week, but they also struggled against the Texans. Tyrod Taylor was lighting up the Cleveland stop unit before he got hurt and left rookie Davis Mills to try and finish the job – which he couldn’t. Still, Cleveland only had one sack in that contest compared to the eight they had last week against Chicago, and they only have two turnovers on the season. Cleveland will be difficult for the Vikings to run against, but they won’t be able to stop Cook or Mattison as easily as they stopped the Bears last week or Mark Ingram and Houston 2 weeks ago.
Cleveland’s Passing Offense Has Issues
In their two wins, Cleveland has been able to wear down the opposing defenses because the opposing offenses couldn’t stay on the field. Cleveland held the ball 40 minutes last week against the Bears after possessing it 35 minutes against the Texans. This has allowed the Browns to pull away in the second half as they pound Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Both runners are excellent, but their stats are padded because of opposing offenses that couldn’t stay on the field. This week should be a more balanced contest, meaning the Browns cannot count on scoring late against a tired defense – they will have to pass early to score – which may be a problem. Cleveland managed only 13 points in the first three quarters against Chicago, which won’t cut it this week. Baker Mayfield has been efficient but not great, and his receivers are mediocre at best. Odell Beckham Jr. played in his first game this year last week and looked good, catching five passes for 77 yards. But with Jarvis Landry out, the other receivers were only targeted four times showing Mayfield and Stefanski don’t have a lot of confidence in them. Cleveland instead targeted Hunt out of the backfield, which they will probably look to do again this week.
Minnesota’s defense is a work in progress and had their best showing of the year last week against Seattle. They held Russell Wilson and the Seahawks to 17 points and shut them out in the second half. Minnesota controlled the ball 35 minutes in that contest, as the Seahawks only converted three third downs on the day. Coach Mike Zimmer is one of the best defensive minds in the league, so look for additional improvement this week and more success from the Minnesota stop unit.
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The Spot Favors the Vikings
Home field advantage isn’t what it used to be, but Minnesota’s dome is one place that still favors the home team. Since Zimmer took over in 2014, the Vikings are 36-22 against the spread at home, including last week’s win as a short home dog. The dome was a raucous environment last week against Seattle, and we should expect the same this week. Cousins is a much better quarterback at home and especially in the early time window, so we should see another strong performance from him. Cleveland is 10-17 on the road since Baker Mayfield showed up in 2018 compared to 17-8 at home, so they are not the same team on the road. Stefanski is only 5-8 ATS as a favorite in his short coaching career. Stefanski was Zimmer’s offensive coordinator in 2019, so Zimmer should come into the game with a good understanding of how the Browns will attack and have a game plan to counter it. All signs point to a Viking win.
Play the Vikings as a Home Dog
Let’s trust Kirk Cousins and Mike Zimmer at home this week to care of business and beat the Cleveland Browns. I also like this total under 53.5. The Vikings’ only game to go over that number was their shootout with the Cardinals, and the Browns’ only game to go over that total was with the Chiefs. These are two teams that want to run the ball and complete high percentages of passes that will keep the clock ticking and the total under 53. Bet ALL your Week 4 NFL picks FREE by taking advantage of a 100% REAL CASH bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $1000 at Betnow Sportsbook!
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