All the Minnesota Vikings needed was a little home cooking to crack the win column for the first time in 2021. Minnesota roughed up Seattle 30-17 in its home opener last Sunday and stays inside U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 4, hosting the Cleveland Browns.
The Vikings are slim 2.5-point home underdogs for the second straight week and that’s fine with Minny bettors. The Vikes are 9-3 ATS as home underdogs since Mike Zimmer grabbed the clipboard in 2014.
Check out our NFL free picks and predictions for Browns at Vikings on October 3.
Browns vs Vikings odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
Cleveland opened as a 1-point road favorite and has since moved to -2.5 at some books with early play on the Browns, as of Tuesday afternoon. The total opened at 52.5 points and has climbed to 53.
Browns vs Vikings picks
Picks made on 9/28/2021 at 2:00 p.m. ET.
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.
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Browns vs Vikings game info
• Location: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
• Date: Sunday, October 3, 2021
• Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
• TV: CBS
Browns at Vikings betting preview
Be sure to monitor the gametime conditions with our NFL weather info.
Browns: Jarvis Landry WR (Out), Chris Hubbard T (Out), Greg Newsome II CB (Out), Anthony Walker LB (Out).
Vikings: Anthony Barr LB (Out), Kris Boyd CB (Out).
Find our latest NFL injury reports.
Betting trend to know
Minnesota is 35-21-1 ATS (62%) at home since 2014. Find more NFL betting trends for Browns vs. Vikings.
Browns vs Vikings predictions
Minnesota +2.5 (-115)
This spread opened with Minnesota as a 1-point home dog, and even when the line jumped to +2, I expected buyback on the host team. That hasn’t come and we’re looking at Vikings +2.5 at some shops.
This line movement sits with me about as well as chili out of a dented can and I have a tough time trusting the Browns’ inflated numbers, considering the quality of competition the past two weeks.
Cleveland has recently roughed up Chicago and Houston (and only beat the Texans for a half after Tyrod Taylor got injured). Those two foes bring up the rear in most folks’ power rankings. And going back to Week 1, the Browns buckled in the second half at Kansas City, getting outscored 23-7 in the final 30 minutes. They enter Week 4 ranked 10th in Defensive DVOA at Football Outsiders, but 19th versus the pass with a +0.213 EPA per dropback (23rd).
The Vikings, on the other hand, could easily be 3-0 right now. Minnesota had the brain fart of the day in Cincinnati in Week 1 (losing in OT) then Greg Joseph missed a potential game-winning field goal to lose 34-33 at Arizona in Week 2. Week 3 finally brought a victory, with the Vikes exposing a soft Seahawks defense despite missing stud RB Dalvin Cook.
For all the firepower on the Browns offense, Minnesota can match that pop with playmakers in Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen connecting with a red-hot Kirk Cousins (No. 2 in QBR) for the No. 5 passing offense in DVOA at Football Outsiders. Cook sat out last week but there’s a good chance he plays in Week 4, adding another layer to this Minnesota playbook.
I’d be surprised if this spread goes to a field goal, so I’m grabbing Vikings +2.5. But if it does get to +3, I bet it again and again.
Under 53.5 (-110)
The Vikings defense was projected to rank among the best in the NFL in 2021, and after two slow starts, it finally looked the part in Week 3’s win over Seattle. Minnesota shut out the Seahawks in the final two quarters – with some help from a clock-sapping offense limiting Seattle’s touches.
Defensive end Everson Griffen was back after a car crash forced him out of Week 2 and is getting sharper with every snap, giving the Vikes a nasty set of ends opposite Danielle Hunter. That stop unit could get a huge shot in the arm if LB Anthony Barr can get back on the field Sunday. Barr hasn’t played in 17 games going back to 2020 due to a knee injury, but practiced last week and is hopeful to return in time for the Browns.
The Vikings should have plenty of useful game film – of themselves – for this week’s opponent. Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski was the offensive coordinator in Minnesota in 2019 and an assistant with the franchise for four seasons.
While the Vikes could have some inside intel on Stefanski’s sets, they’ll still show this offense plenty of respect – by not letting it on the field. Minnesota and Cleveland could be in a game of “keep away” with both teams ranked Top 8 in time of possession.
The Browns run the most plodding pace in the NFL right now, calling a play every 32.5 seconds. That’s led to an average TOP of 33:57 (third-most), another stat casting shadows on just how good this Cleveland defense really is.
This total has ticked up from 52 to 53.5, but once again I’m going against the early movement and betting the Under.
Over 3.5 total FGs (+102)
Get ready for some “bend but don’t break” defense. That means plenty of field goal attempts.
Cleveland had a tough time cracking Chicago’s defense for touchdowns last Sunday, scoring one TD on four red-zone tries. Kicker Chase McLaughlin had a busy day, making all four of his FG attempts.
Minnesota kicker Greg Joseph has attempted seven field goals, making all but that potential game-winner in Arizona two weeks ago. That includes three second-half FGs versus Seattle on Sunday.
Week 4 will be a workout for both legs.
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