It is now Week 8 of the NFL season and we still have two winless teams, the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers. Both teams are young with inexperienced head coaches and searching for ways to pull out a victory on Sunday. Both teams will have to overcome extreme odds if they want to manage a win. Cleveland will face off with a tough Minnesota Vikings (5-2) team while San Francisco is tasked with the Philadelphia Eagles (6-1).
The 49ers must travel to the east coast to play the best team in football right now. The Eagles are streaking after winning their fifth consecutive game on Monday night. Their only loss came to the Kansas City Chiefs, who have lost two straight, leaving Philly with the best record in the NFL and rightfully so. The dynamic offense of the Eagles has been lights out lately. Carson Wentz has thrown 11 touchdowns in the past three games compared to the six touchdown passes in the first four games. In fact, he currently leads the league with 17 touchdowns. Remember the guy the Browns passed on last year? Yeah, him.
Although Wentz has been balling out of control, he is not the Eagles’ only weapon. LeGarrette Blount and Wendall Smallwood should have a field day against the 29th ranked run defense allowing 134.6 yards per game. San Fran just let Ezekiel Elliot go off for 219 yards from scrimmage. Blount and/or Smallwood should have good games, but even if the 49ers manage to stop the two-headed monster, Philly has weapons in the passing game with Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz and even Nelson Agholor has been emerging as a threat. The Niners defense must play to perfection if they want to be victorious due to their struggling offense.
They recently handed the reigns to rookie C.J. Beathard. They got spanked by Dallas, but the rookie’s performance wasn’t terrible. I mean, he threw for 235 yards and ran for another 30 and a touchdown. The problem was that he took five sacks and two resulted in fumbles. He has got to clean up those mistakes and protect the ball if he wants to win for his team. To be honest, it doesn’t look good for the 49ers to get a win this week. Philadelphia is playing 10 times better than San Francisco. The only hope for them is that Philly throws up a dud and they get lucky.
As for the Browns, they host the Vikings at Twickenham Stadium in London so it’s not truly a home game. The fact that the Browns have to travel across the ocean and play in a completely different time zone is already a disadvantage for us and we need all the help we can get. Hopefully, the Vikings feel similar effects from the time jump and shit the bed. The Browns will need all the advantages they can get if they intend to pull off a win.
The Minnesota Vikings defense is one of the toughest in the league and Mike Zimmer needs some credit. They are stout against the run allowing just 76.6 yards per game. This could be a tough game to watch as Cleveland already struggles to run the ball. They fall behind early and then abandon the run in the second half. Not only is Minnesota a great run stopper, but they have a mean pass rush too as they have generated 21 sacks (6th in the league) and seven interceptions (8th). No team other than the Steelers has scored more than 20 points against this defense and they have held opponents to a ridiculous 27% third down conversion rate (24/88).
If the Browns win this game, it’s going to be an uphill battle all game. The offense is clearly struggling. DeShone Kizer hasn’t played a full game in three weeks. He was benched for Kevin Hogan during the New York Jets game. Kizer didn’t play at all in the Houston game and was benched again during the game versus Tennessee. The rookie must play well enough to stay in the game against this tough Vikings D. Kizer has to protect the ball and make smarter throws against a great football team. Cleveland may have to rely on their defense to keep them in the game. The Browns are scoring just under 15 points per game and the defense has kept them in games, it’s just the offense has wasted opportunities to score points. The chance to score points won’t come easy against Minnesota.
In the end, the Browns probably lose this game unless a miracle happens. A shaky offense and an exhausted defense isn’t a good combination for success. Also, Myles Garrett isn’t making the trip to London due to concussion protocol so that doesn’t help our situation. On the plus side, it doesn’t look like San Francisco will win this week either so the battle of the winless teams continues!
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