Tale Of The Tape: Cleveland Browns At Minnesota Vikings
- QuarterbackThe Cleveland Browns need Brandon Weeden to be at his best to have a chance on the road against the Vikings. Weeden injured his hand against the Ravens in Week Two while following through with a throw, while X-rays were negative, Weeden is dealing with significant pain. Jason Campbell is a decent backup, but the Browns will lose something if Weeden can’t play.The Vikings appear to have made the wrong choice when they committed to Christian Ponder in the offseason. Ponder does not compare favorably with good NFL quarterbacks, let alone the best ones. That cost the Vikings in their Week Two 31-30 loss to the Bears, and it’s hard to see that part of his game improving significantly.
- OffenseThe Browns need Trent Richardson to become a dominant running back if they are going to step up in the AFC North, but he appears to be a good but not great back at this point. Wide receiver Jordan Cameron has given the Browns’ offense some energy while Davone Bess is a good third-down receiver. The offensive line needs to step up after giving up 5.0 sacks to the Ravens.The Vikings are not able to play the same kind of game as most of their opponents because they are limited by Ponder. Running back Adrian Peterson is the best in the game, but opponents load the box to slow him down. Greg Jennings is an accomplished receiver and his frustration may spill out as a result of the team’s shaky quarterback situation.
- DefenseThe Browns played solid defense against the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens and head coach Rob Chudzinski has every reason to feel confident that his defense is going to hold up its end. D’Qwell Jackson is a tackling machine who has the instincts to get to the ball carrier quickly while cornerback Buster Skrine is coming off an excellent nine-tackle effort.The Vikings had several lapses that cost them in their 31-30 loss at Chicago. Particularly troubling was the loose coverage on the decisive Martellus Bennett TD reception that pinned the loss on the Vikings. While Jared Allen can still get after it as a pass rusher – a sack and a forced fumble – the secondary has to employ tighter coverage.
- Special TeamsThe Browns used to feel confident in their special teams when they could send out placekicker Phil Dawson, but those days are in the past and they have to settle for Billy Cundiff. That’s a poor trade for a team that will likely be involved in a lot of low-scoring and close decisions.The Vikings got a huge lift from rookie Cordarrelle Patterson, who had a 105-yard TD return on the opening kickoff of the game. Blair Walsh is an exceptional kicker who is never intimidated by 50-plus yard attempts.
Significant problems for both teams, but the Vikings are likely to be the better team. They nearly won at Chicago in Week Two and a return home should give them the edge they need against a team that struggles on the offensive end. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor