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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Week 3 Preview: Vikings Vs Browns

Two division road contests have resulted in two division road losses. Hopefully the cure for what ails the Vikings are the Cleveland Browns, who visit Mall of America Field today at noon. As much as you’d hate to think that a week 3 game should be considered a “must-win”, this one might actually qualify. After losing two games against division rivals, the team can ill-afford a loss at home — especially considering they’ll go on the road for a “home game” against the Steelers in London next. For today’s game, however, here’s what we’re looking for.

Consistency from Christian Ponder
After a rough first week, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder didn’t really give fans much to be optimistic about in the first half of the Bears game. Continuing on the same type of trend, Ponder often looked shaky and gave up a pick 6 with one of the most telegraphed passes that you might ever see in professional football. Staring down Jerome Simpson from the get-go, Ponder never even saw Bears cornerback Tim Jennings as he jumped the route and easily ran for a defensive score.  Watching the play back, it’s hard to tell exactly what Simpson was doing on the play, because it kind of looked like it should have been a come-back route. But even more frustrating, Kyle Rudolph couldn’t have been much more wide open a bit further down the field on the same side that Simpson was on. Paul Allen pointed out earlier this week that Rudolph was being covered by Bears defensive end Julius Peppers on the play, and that was not surprising at all. Rudolph was at least 7 yards clear of any defender and would have likely gone for an easy touchdown if Ponder had seen him.  To Ponder’s credit, his play in the second half was much better. He was 10-16 for 146 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Hardly a statline that would blow anybody away, but he threw some confident accurate throws to help keep the Vikings moving down the field. Hopefully Christian can put together two solid halves against a Browns team that ranks 12th against the pass.

Vikings Defense against… 
This Cleveland Browns offense has changed rather dramatically in the past few days. After starting quarterback Brandon Weeden went down with a sprained thumb, the Browns announced that backup the backup quarterback Brian Hoyer would be starting in his place, and not veteran journeyman Jason Campbell like many had predicted. The Browns suggested there was a legitimate quarterback competition between Weeden and Campbell this offseason, so the Hoyer move is an interesting one. So of course the Browns were planning on leaning on second year RB Trent Richardson, right?  Wrong! On Wednesday the Browns traded Richardson to the Colts for a 2014 first round draft pick. That leaves the Vikings defense to play against a 22nd ranked passing attack and a 29th ranked rushing attack that just lost arguably the driving forces behind those units. You’d like to think the Vikings shouldn’t have any problem containing this Browns offense that is suddenly even more questionable than they already were, but “this is the NFL”, and “nothing is guaranteed” and “any given Sunday” and all of those other cliches.

Unleashing Cordarrelle Patterson?
For the second week in a row, rookie wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was on the field for only a handful of plays, and once again, one play less than former quarterback Joe Webb. Patterson only has 3 catches this year in the limited time that he has been on the field, but two of those catches allowed Patterson to be the shifty receiver that we expected him to be and he has broken a handful of tackles. From the little we’ve seen of him, he’s appeared to be a very explosive and dynamic player, but unfortunately it’s hard to confirm that as of right now. In a press conference earlier this week, Leslie Frazier again admitted that the team needs to find ways to get Patterson on the field, but only time will tell if they’re able to. It’s hard to watch a player with that kind of potential sit on the sidelines. Hopefully they can get him more into the mix today and for weeks to come.

Today’s game against the Browns kicks off from Mall of America Field at noon on the FAN. Paul Allen and Pete Bercich will handle the call on 100.3FM here in the Twin Cities and across the Vikings Radio Network.

Check out the graphic to the left. It was created by “K I L L E R C H E F”, a regular in Purple Chat. Check out the other submissions in this week’s competition on Purple Chat. Have a fresh idea for next week’s game? Pay attention to Purple Chat for next week’s Gameday Graphic thread. Did we miss out on a major plot line for today’s game? Tell us below or on Purple Chat.

Make sure you’re following The FAN on Twitter for the latest news and notes, and follow our guy AJ on Twitter for the latest on the Vikings and more.

This article was written by jab. You can normally find him meandering around Rube Chat. Or feel free to email him at jab@kfan.com.

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