Top 5 Storylines For Cleveland Browns At Minnesota Vikings
5 Storylines Heading Into Vikings vs. Browns Week 3
Two winless teams will take the field on Sunday as the Cleveland Browns take the road to face the Minnesota Vikings. The Browns were the team who recently made news by trading their lone superstar, Trent Richardson, to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2014 first round pick.
The Browns have officially begun their campaign to suck for the remainder of the 2013 season in order to receive a top pick in the next draft and likely take a chance on a new franchise quarterback. Their current top quarterback, Brandon Weeden, is out for this game against the Vikings, making Brian Hoyer the starting quarterback this week.
The Vikings, on the other hand, are fresh off a playoff appearance but have gotten off to a slow start to the 2013 season. Christian Ponder has once again had problems protecting the ball, and after falling just yards short of the NFL single season rushing record Adrian Peterson has just 193 rushing yards through two games.
All three rookie first round picks for the Vikings have already started making an impact, and if they can continue to develop and perform on the field this team could get better as the season goes on. Of course in order for that to happen Ponder will need to stop throwing interceptions and Peterson will have to get on the running tear he promised with his goal of 2,500 yards.
This game on Sunday already has big implications for the Vikings as it is a must win situation against a team that has a depleted offense and is looking forward to the future.
5. How Badly Will Hoyer Struggle Against Vikings' Secondary?
Brian Hoyer is making just his second career start in the NFL at quarterback, and even though he is going up against a slowly improving secondary, it will still be ugly for the former third string quarterback. The Browns’ only hope in the passing game is Josh Gordon, who will be playing in his first game of the year and may be able to turn a few short passes into first downs to help out the unproven QB.
4. Will Ponder Stay In His Current Funk?
Through just two games this season, Christian Ponder has four interceptions and just two touchdowns. Last week the defensive and special teams units combined for two touchdowns of their own in a game where Ponder only threw one touchdown pass in a losing effort. This week against the Browns Ponder will likely be forced to throw the ball more than usual so him getting on his game again is more important than ever.
3. Will Adrian Peterson Motivate Himself To New Heights?
After rushing for 100 yards against the Chicago Bears last week Adrian Peterson said he was disappointed in his performance and was hesitant at times, which is not good enough. It is this type of self-criticism that has made Peterson the best running back in the game, and it is the same criticism that will make him always demand more out of himself. With the Vikings winless through two weeks you can bet Peterson feels the pressure and will come out ready to run through anyone this Sunday.
2. How Badly Will Vikings' D-Line Dominate Browns' O-Line?
The Browns have given up 11 sacks through two games and are now inserting a new quarterback, with less of a run game, and the same offensive line, which is a formula for the Vikings' defensive line to dominate on Sunday. Jared Allen will have to deal with the tough left tackle Joe Thomas all afternoon, but Kevin Williams and Brian Robison should have plenty of opportunities to record sacks or tackles for a loss. Even if the Vikings' offense has struggles again this game, the defensive line could have a big enough impact to still decide the winner of the game.
1. What Will Cordarrelle Patterson’s Role Be?
Cordarrelle Patterson made an impact last week by returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown, yet he was still not fully implemented into the pass game. Through two games Patterson has just three catches for 24 yards, two of which were screen passes that he turned into first downs. Patterson showed in the preseason he had the ability to break tackles and be a shifty runner, yet he has not been given the opportunity he deserves in the pass game. So far Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson have performed well, but the addition of Patterson to the mix could help Ponder immensely.