Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Victory Equation

So what do the Vikings need to do today to beat Cleveland? The answer is simple: the same things they've done in all of their other victories: run the ball well, get turnovers and create big plays, whether by offense (not happening with BJ at quarterback), defense or special teams.
Pretty simple equation, isn't it?

Running the ball well + Getting a few turnovers + a few big plays=Victory (Huzzah! Huzzah!)

So can the Vikings do it today against the Browns?
Survey says.....yes.

The Browns have the 5th worst rushing defense in the NFL, allowing their opponents to run over them to the tune of 133 yards a game. Even while shutting out the Dolphins last week, they gave up 139 yards on 25 carries, for an average of 5.6 yards a carry. So I'm guessing that the Vikings can run on them, especially now that all of our linemen know the offense (I don't think I'm going to get over Tice starting an offensive lineman that didn't know the offense--a high school JV coach wouldn't do that).

Turnovers, however, might be a bit of a problem for the Vikings defense. The Browns have 18 turnovers, 11 of which are interceptions. That puts them in the lower half of the NFL, but is also better then Green Bay, New Orleans and Detroit (and the Vikings, but who's counting?). Trent Dilfer has thrown 10 picks, which is the 7th highest total, behind (say it with me now) Brett Favre, Aaron Brooks and Joey Harrington (and Daunte, but again, who's counting?) but is worse then Eli Manning. Basically, the Browns have a tendency to turn the ball over. They're not the Packers, Saints or Lions (or Vikings) but they haven't developed that healthy respect for holding on to the ball that they every good team needs.

In terms of kick coverages, the Browns are both good and bad. They haven't given up a touchdown on a punt or kick return (which means they're due, right?) and are in the top ten units at covering kickoff returns. Their punting unit, however, leaves something to be desired, since it's giving up a 12.9 yards a punt, putting them within shouting distance (1/10 of a yard) of the Rams, who are the only team worse. So Mewelde Moore has a shot to have a big day, both rushing and returning punts.

Will the Vikings win tomorrow? The stats seem to say so. Am I going to pick the Vikings? Hell no. That'd be crazy. One thing I will predict, however, is that tomorrow will be an interesting game--that's something the Vikings have delivered everytime this year.

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