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Taking On The Vikings

September 12, 2009

Ok, it's finally here. A meaningful game. One that counts in the standings. Time for Mangini's grand plans and schemes to play out for real. The question is, will the Vikings play the roll of Heath Ledger's Joker? Will they show Mangini the futility of all his planning and scheming? Probably. My pick? Vikings 27 Browns 13 in a game not as close as the score indicated. But that's no fun. Let me try to draw out a road map of how the Browns can prove me, and pretty much everyone else who has weighed in on the subject, wrong by winning their opener for the second time since 1999.

1) Brady must be brilliant. Quinn doesn't need a monster statistical game. When I say play brilliant, I mean be really smart. In particular, be smart with the football. Not only does Quinn need to make sure he doesn't turn it over and take what the defense gives him and avoid risky and ill advised decisions, Quinn has to make the big play when it presents itself. If Braylon Edwards gets open 25 yards downfield, Quinn can't miss that and throw a check down. Quinn needs to show what most people are hoping is his strong suit, his cerebral quarterbacking. He needs to be smart on the field and make the right decisions. He needs to execute and make good throws. The Browns are going to have to spread the field and throw a lot of quick passes to try and frustrate the Vikings excellent pass rush. Brady needs to make the right reads and get the ball out of his hands and make sure his throw is a good one. The opportunity for a big play probably won't show up but 2 or 3 times against a defense this good. When it does, Brady has got to make the play.

2) Try to do the impossible: Slow down Adrian Peterson a little bit. AP is gonna get his. He's going to run for 125+ yards. He will probably get in the end zone. That's just the way it is. The Browns need to try to stop the big play from AP. If he's held to mostly runs of 5 or 6 yards, and stopped from getting 20 yard chunks, that will help. It will give Cleveland chances to stop Minnesota on third down. If Cleveland can keep force some third downs, odds are is the Vikings will be stopped from time to time. If the Browns can make stops and the offense can follow with a time consuming drive, that could help get the Vikings offense out of rhythm. The only sure way to stop AP is keeping him on the sidelines.

3) Win the turnover battle. When you have a talent deficit, you need to avoid mistakes and catch a few breaks. Winning the turnover battle comes down to exactly that. A must for Cleveland.

4) Force Brett Favre to shoot from the hip. Favre is a Hall of Fame quarterback who will probably still have a big arm when he's 75. Fine. Favre likes to throw deep and throw touchdowns. Ok. Favre just like to chuck the ball downfield. All right. Let him chuck. It can lead to interceptions (see number 3 above). Let Brett make ill advised off balance heaves. It's going to take pressure from multiple players, not a Brownie strong suit, but if they can do it Favre is likely to make a big mistake or seven.

5) Shaun Rogers has to dominate. Jamal Lewis has to be adequate. Rogers needs to be a beast. The Vikings have a very good offensive line. Rogers has got to be rested, not rusty, and make Sunday afternoon a living hell for the big boys in purple. Hopefully, Rogers can make plays and get to Favre and command enough attention that his teammates can make some plays as well.
Jamal needs to be serviceable. He's got to do enough on the ground to make the Vikings at least pay attention to the run. Brady may only have three career starts, but he's no rookie. This guy has been preparing to be the Browns starting quarterback since at least April 2007, if not since sometime in the late 1980s. But it's tough for any quarterback to do well without at least an OK running game. Jamal is going to need to find some holes in the Williams Wall.

If the Browns can do all of the above, they should be able to win the game, something like 24-17. Sure it's asking a lot, but it could happen.

Here's a hypothetical for everyone to think about, if you had to bet $100 on either Ohio State over USC or Browns over Vikings, who are you betting on?

I'd take OSU.

Jack Bacevice

1 comment:

  1. The Browns have a good chance to win against the Vikings especially now that Favre is their QB. He will single-handedly ruin the Vikings chances of making the playoffs this year.

    They should have passed on the whole Favre circus and focused on Tavaris and Sage being their QBs.

    Dumb move for the Vikings, and the Vikings fans are even dumber for being happy that Favre is their QB.