Got back on track last week. Thank you Jacksonville for being Jacksonville.
This week my pick will be of similar stature.
My lock is the Tennessee Titans (-6) over the New York Jets.
I don’t care how many people are hurt for the Titans. This pick is all about how bad the Jets are.
You will be seeing similar picks for awhile, with me picking mostly against teams like the Jets, Jaguars, and Steelers until the NFL starts jacking up those spreads.
Speaking of which…honorable mention pick this week goes to Green Bay (-6.5) over Pittsburgh. The Steelers are awful, I’ll be picking against them every week until they make a quarterback change. It’s over for Big Ben.
The Vikings play Big Ben’s favorite opponent over the years this week, the Cleveland Browns.
It took 30+ years of rebuilding, but the Browns are finally legit. Good running backs, solid receivers, talent all over the place on defense, and an excellent head coach.
Stefanski and Zimmer obviously know each other very well.
It’ll be a cat and mouse game for awhile, but what it’s gonna come down to is the run game.
Can Minnesota contain or stop the thunder and lightning combination of Chubb and Hunt? If so they make Baker Mayfield uncomfortable. Mayfield can struggle with accuracy and turning the ball over when he feels like he has to do too much. When the Browns get that running game going and Baker gets comfortable back there he excels and makes it a long day for any opponent.
It’s a similar story for the Vikings. When Dalvin Cook and/or Alexander Mattison get going early, it opens up the screen passing game and big plays down the field to Thielen and Jefferson. It also opens up play action and allows Kirk Cousins to get comfortable. Kirk is also very effective when he’s not pressured.
They’ll be a lot of focus put on both team’s offensive lines this week. They hold the key to who’s gonna win this game.
The Vikings defense seemed to figure it out last week when they finally beat the fucking Seattle Seahawks, and shut them out completely in the 2nd half.
But, even though I still love this Vikings team and my prediction for the season overall hasn’t changed, I think this is ultimately a bad matchup for Minnesota.
It’s sort of like looking in the mirror. These teams are extremely similar and run the same style of offense.
The difference between the two is at head coach.
I don’t like Mike Zimmer’s, or the Viking’s chances historically, of lining up against an opponent and outsmarting them. Sure I have seen plenty of examples of Zimmer putting together a great game plan against Aaron Rodgers and winning because of it. But this matchup seems like it’ll be more of a chess game, where in-the-moment adjustments will be needed from play to play and series to series.
Zimmer’s successes largely come from pregame strategies carried out to perfection on Sunday. He tends to stumble a bit when having to make adjustments on the fly when those game plans don’t work.
I like the Browns and their coaching staff a heck of a lot more than I like Zimmer and the Vikings in that spot.
Zimmer is too emotional, stubborn, and it’s always personal with him. Stefanski is detail oriented, keeps an even keel, and doesn’t get wrapped up in making it work his way. If something isn’t working, he throws it out. No emotional attachments. No sensitivity seminars required.
(Zimmer still remembers things written about him in the press from 2016, acts like it doesn’t bother him, but constantly brings it up. Big difference.)
But more than anything, Stefanski knows Zimmer’s defense better than anybody in the league who’s not in the Vikings organization, and he’ll know how to adjust throughout the game.
All that said I think the Browns will win, unfortunately. I think they will start fast and put the Vikings in too many uncomfortable positions. Cousins has yet to turn the ball over this season, I expect that to change this week. I think Minnesota will be trailing most of the game, try to make it close at the end, but will come up short.
I’ll take Cleveland (-2) 31-23 in Minnesota.
And I’ll be sitting on the couch with my old man from noon to 3 hoping my prediction is wrong.
The Vikings are, after all, 1-0 when I watch the game with my dad this year…hmm…maybe I should change that prediction…
SEASON LOCK RECORD: 2-1 SEASON VIKINGS RECORD: 2-1 (3-0 ATS)