Point: Vikings’ road about to get tough
If you had told me at the beginning of the season the Minnesota Vikings would lose Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson and Matt Kalil to injuries and be 5-0, I wouldn’t have believed it.
Sam Bradford has been steady and is improving with every game. Jerick McKinnon has filled in admirably for Peterson, and the defense has proved one of the best in the league. Almost 20 percent of opposing teams’ drives end in a turnover when facing the Vikings. Minnesota is second in the league in sacks with 19.
Perennial losers, the Cleveland Browns are perhaps as bad as the Vikings are good. The Browns are tied for second-worst in the NFL, allowing 29.6 points per game. They are trotting out rookie quarterback Cody Kessler after Robert Griffin III went down with an injury in the first game.
This raises an interesting question of what is more likely to happen first: the Browns win or the Vikings lose? I’m going with the former.
First of all, Minnesota is on a bye this week. So, for at least one more week, the Vikings are safe. Meanwhile, Cleveland takes on Tennessee, and though the Titans are not pushovers, they represent a realistic chance for the Browns to earn a victory. Mariota is talented, but young and prone to the occasional slip.
After that, the Browns take on another beatable team in the Bengals, while Minnesota gets Philadelphia after the bye. Although the Eagles’ record looks good this season, most of the teams they’ve beaten have been sub-par, including the Browns. The Vikings should be able to handle them.
Eventually, the Vikings will meet their match. However, I don’t think that point will come before Cleveland meets a team it can beat. The Vikings have shown an increasing aptitude each week, and have also battled injuries to receivers. Once the team is healthier, Bradford has grown even more comfortable in the offense and as long as the defense keeps playing at an elite level, I don’t see a loss coming soon for Minnesota.
Counterpoint: Cleveland still trying to overcome curse
Assistant Sports Editor
Call me delusional, but Minnesota will lose a game before the Brownies win anything.
Despite the Cavs winning an NBA title and the Indians set for Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday night, the curse is alive and well in Cleveland. The warm and fuzzy feelings Clevelanders felt after Kyrie Irving drained his game-winning 3-pointer in Game 7 of the NBA Finals are gone. It’s been replaced with feelings of dread, as LeBron and Co. are inevitably headed for a bout with the Cerberus known as the New Super Splash Bros. in the 2017 finals.
Meanwhile the Toronto Blue Jays countered Rougned Odor’s right hook with home run after home run to sweep the Texas Rangers in the ALDS and move on to face the Tribe with a trip to the Fall Classic on the line. Toronto is hot, and that doesn’t bode well for an Indians pitching staff that’s playing musical chairs with Trevor Bauer’s ALCS start because, get this, he cut his finger open trying to repair a drone. This isn’t Major League. Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn can’t save the Indians’ season if Bauer can go only three or four innings.
A few blocks north at First Energy Stadium, the Browns are a dumpster fire the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the Cuyahoga River accidently caught fire in ‘69 because of raw sewage pumped into the water.
After the Cavs won the NBA Championship, Tim Brokaw, owner of a Cleveland-based advertising industry and the infamous Cleveland Browns quarterback jersey, decided it was time to retire the jersey adorned with the names of 24 starting quarterbacks since 1999.
“The dark cloud has been lifted,” Brokaw told ESPN in June.
He might be eating those words today.
The Browns have started three quarterbacks this season. Five have played meaningful snaps.
Forgive me if I’m uninspired by the thrilling combination of RG3, Josh “nine teams in 14 seasons” McCown, Charlie “Clipboard Jesus” Whitehurst, Terrelle “I play everything” Pryor, and Cody “I can’t think of a nickname for him because he’s so new” Kessler.
The Browns have held leads in three of five games this season, including two games the Browns should have won. They didn’t. In Week 3, Miami, a dumpster fire in its own special South Beach way, managed to pull out a 30-24 victory in OT, despite trying to implode midgame. The Browns also led the Ravens by as many as 14 in Week 2 but couldn’t hold on.
The Browns have 24 players listed on their injury report. There are 10 on injured reserve, including RG3 and guard Joel Bitonio, the team’s second best offensive lineman. Others such as McCown and first-round pick Corey Coleman are out for extended periods of time.
You have to wonder if some of these guys decided being injured is better than losing.
Even All-pro wide receiver Josh Gordon, who was about to come off his umpteenth suspension, decided to check into rehab instead of play for the Browns.
Stuff like this doesn’t happen anywhere outside of Cleveland. Minnesota is dealing with similar injury issues, but the Vikings just rolled right passes it to a perfect record.
It’s not fair, and it doesn’t make sense.
But then again, neither does a river catching fire.