This Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns is a must win for the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately, they have started the year 0-2, and after two crushing divisional losses, the Vikings must get their first win against the offensively depleted Browns.
Brandon Weeden has been ruled out for the Browns on Sunday because of a thumb issue, which means backup quarterback Brian Hoyer will get the start in place of Weeden. Hoyer has limited experience in his four seasons in the NFL which should bode well for the Vikings who have an improving secondary.
The defensive line should have a standout day against the weak Browns offensive line, which means Hoyer will be under plenty of pressure throughout the day and running back Trent Richardson should be contained when running the ball. The Browns barely had a functioning offense with Weeden as the starter this season, so with Hoyer coming in for his first 2013 snaps, the Vikings have a good shot at getting their first victory.
The Browns have scored just 16 points this season, a number which the Vikings have eclipsed offensively in both games this year. This game was likely always circled as a win for the Vikings, but without Weeden the Browns’ offense will struggle even more to put points on the board. Richardson has also had a disappointing season to date totaling just 105 yards to date on 31 total carries. This gives Richardson a 3.4 yards per carry average which is well below the league average for starting running backs.
The Vikings struggled to contain Reggie Bush in Week 1 of the season, and last week against the Chicago Bears they gave up a total of 129 yards on the ground which came from a team average of five yards per carry. It was the passing game of the Bears that eventually decided the game and gave the Vikings their second loss, but without the threat of a dangerous passing attack this weekend and a fully healthy defensive line, the Vikings should be able to limit the entire Browns offense and get their first win of the 2013 season.