The Minnesota Vikings are 10-point favorites for their Week 8 matchup with the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, according to MyBookie. Straight up, Minnesota is a -460 favorite while Cleveland is a +335 underdog.
Sunday’s showdown from London will feature two teams heading in opposite directions. The Vikings are winners of three straight and currently own the No. 2 seed in the NFC, just one game behind the Philadelphia Eagles. Minnesota’s defense ranks in the top five in the NFL in several categories, as it has the past few years under Mike Zimmer. Offensively, the Vikings have adequately survived despite injuries to their starting quarterback, running back and wide receiver.
Cleveland enters Sunday with an 0-7 record, joining the San Francisco 49ers as the only winless teams in the NFL this season. The Browns have cycled through three quarterbacks this season — rookie DeShone Kizer, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan. The team announced this week that Kizer will get the start in London against arguably Cleveland’s toughest defensive test of the season. Additionally, the Browns will be without All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas for the first time since 2006.
The Browns defense features several talented players in the process of building chemistry. Danny Shelton and Myles Garrett anchor a stout defensive line while Jamie Collins provides playmaking at linebacker. In the secondary, Jason McCourty has built a reputation as a lockdown cornerback. Unfortunately for the Browns, it appears as if both Garrett and McCourty will not be available on Sunday.
The over/under of 38 points reflects the generally low-scoring nature of games in London. In three games overseas so far this season, the losing teams have totaled seven points — and this matchup might be the most lopsided of them all.
Minnesota has won 10 of the 14 meetings between these two teams. This will be the first Vikings-Browns matchup played at a neutral site. In the previous meeting, the Browns stole a win at the Metrodome by a score of 31-27 in Week 3 of the 2013 season. Josh Gordon caught 10 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns to lead Cleveland’s offense. The Vikings fell to 0-3 and traveled to London the following week, where they beat the Steelers for their first win of the season.
Time: 8:30 a.m. CDT
Station: NFL Network
Commentators: Greg Gumbel and Trent Green
Minnesota will remain without Sam Bradford for the third consecutive week — although, really, that first half against Bears shouldn’t count, so the Vikings have essentially been without Bradford since Week 1.
Stefon Diggs, Riley Reiff and Nick Easton are on track to return to the starting offense after getting multiple days of practice in this week.
OUT: QB Sam Bradford, G Jeremiah Sirles, DE Stephen Weatherly
QUESTIONABLE: WR Stefon Diggs, T Riley Reiff, G Nick Easton, WR Michael Floyd, CB Mackensie Alexander
Cleveland will be without its No. 1 overall draft choice Myles Garrett on Sunday due to a concussion sustained last week. Jason McCourty is listed as doubtful with an ankle injury and likely will not suit up as well. All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas, who had played over 10,000 straight snaps, was placed on injured reserve this week due to torn triceps.
OUT: DE Myles Garrett
DOUBTFUL: CB Jason McCourty, DT Larry Ogunjobi
QUESTIONABLE: DL Trevon Coley, S Jabrill Peppers
The Vikings are the superior team in just about every facet of this matchup — better offensively, better defensively, better coaching, better roster talent, etc. The one thing the Browns do have going for them is their rushing defense. Opposing runners have only managed 3.0 yards per carry against Cleveland this season, which is the least in the NFL.
It will be important for the Vikings to establish the run early and avoid placing the burden of moving the offense solely on Case Keenum. Minnesota would still have an advantage in that scenario, but it’s been documented over and over that games in London generally don’t follow script very well.
The Browns offense is facing its toughest challenge of the season in Mike Zimmer’s defense. DeShone Kizer will have to play his best game as a pro to lead his offense to multiple touchdown drives against a defense that hasn’t allowed more than 17 points since Week 2.
The Vikings should win this game to enter the bye week at 6-2, and should do so convincingly.
Vikings 27, Browns 6