TV Schedule: Sunday, Sept. 22, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS
Stadium: Mall of America Field
Weather: Low 53, High 70
Line: Minnesota (-5.5)
Sitting at 0-2 following two division losses to begin the season, the Minnesota Vikings are one of the best teams without a win this year. Expectations were quite high following a 10-win season, but the Vikings knew, realistically, that they are in arguably the toughest division in the NFL. Christian Ponder is underperforming and the team might need to go in a different direction at quarterback. Ponder has completer 34 of 58 passes for 463 yards and just two passing touchdowns. Adrian Peterson has been solid, as always, leading the 10th best rushing attack in the league with 193 yards on 44 carries and two touchdowns.
On the other side of the field, the lowly Cleveland Browns are looking for their first playoff appearance since 2002 and their third in the past 20 years. Brandon Weeden sprained his thumb in week two, making way for backup quarterback and NFL journeyman Brian Hoyer to lead the offense in week three. If he does well enough, it’s been said that Hoyer could be the quarterback of the future for this organization. Trent Richardson has slightly underperformed this season, rushing for just 105 yards on 31 carries while leading one of the worst run games in the league with 56 yards per game.
Defensively, the Vikings have been awful so far this season. Coming in with one of the most talented defensive lines in the league, the secondary has far too many holes, as evidenced by the 319.5 yards allowed per game through the air. Brian Hoyer might have a tough time in his first game under center this season and his second career start, but it helps that the Vikings secondary isn’t the best. The Browns have one of the best run-stopping defenses in the league. It will be interesting to see how Peterson can counter that solid defense.
PREDICTION: Browns 17, Vikings 24