Minnesota vs. Cleveland (London)
Sunday, 6:30 am PT - NFL Network
CRIS Opener: Minnesota -7.5 O/U 38
CRIS Current: Minnesota -9.5 O/U 38
I’ve been impressed by Mike Zimmer and the Vikings coaching staff since they arrived in Minnesota four years ago. And the way the Vikings braintrust is approaching their trip to London this week shows exactly why this particular group of coaches and management continues to impress.
Here’s the quote from Zimmer: ‘We’re going to try something a little bit different than most of the other teams. I’ll either look smart or I’ll look dumb. We’re going to get there a day early. We’ve had sleep people come talk to us; you know we’re getting the whole gamut. I was looking into all the scientific things for this.”
Those ‘scientific things’ include limiting caffeine, using special glasses to look at their smartphones while minimizing light intake, eating a heavy meal the first night in London, and a long, detailed practice immediately after sleeping on the plane over the nine hour flight.
Contrast that type of prep with the quotes coming out of the Browns locker room this week, an 0-7 team not thrilled about their trip overseas. Tight end Seth DeValve: “I’d rather not be in a plane for 16 hours, or however long it is.”
Offensive guard Kevin Zeitler, who travelled to London with the Bengals: “It’s a very long flight, a big time change with all the side effects that go with it.”
Safety Jabrill Peppers: “I’m really not fond of planes. I’m trying not to even think about it.”
WR Kenny Britt, who went to London with the Titans: “I hated London, hated it. I hated it with a passion...I hated the flight. I hated us being there so long. I hated the flight back. I hated the food. You can ask my wife the same thing, and she’ll give you the same answer.”
By itself, the Vikings advanced analytics for their trip to London wouldn’t be enough to get me to the betting window laying more than a touchdown. But given the Browns litany of negative quotes, and their continued problems moving the football against good defenses, Minnesota’s edges are likely to get magnified here.
The Browns offensive line play has not lived up to preseason expectations, and they just lost their on and off field leader, pro bowl tackle Joe Thomas. Their QB play -- from DeShone Kizer and both of his backups -- has been abysmal from Day 1, bad news against a defense that is loaded with playmakers. The Browns own pass defense ranks as a bottom five unit in the NFL, and this Cleveland team with three double digit defeats already is primed to suffer a fourth such defeat in early start action on Sunday.