BROWNS PLAYER TO WATCH: DE Jadeveon Clowney had two of the team’s nine sacks last week, his first multi-sack game since 2018. Clowney was signed to take some pressure off 2020 All-Pro DE Myles Garrett, and he’s taking advantage of frequently facing one blocker instead of double-teams.
VIKINGS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Justin Jefferson has reached the 100-yard mark in eight of 19 career games. The only player in the NFL with more since the start of last season is Green Bay’s Davante Adams (9).
KEY MATCHUP: Garrett will likely be lined up across from Vikings LT Rashod Hill, who has been part of a vast improvement by the offensive line the last two games after a rough opener at Cincinnati. First-round draft pick Christian Darrisaw (groin) has been cleared for full participation in practice and could be considered for relief if Hill were to struggle against Garrett like Jason Peters did for the Bears during Garrett’s team-record 4 1/2-sack performance.
KEY INJURIES: Browns rookie starting CB Greg Newsome (calf) will miss the game and be replaced by Greedy Williams, who missed all of last season with a nerve injury in his shoulder and lost his starting job in training camp. … Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (ankle) was held out last week but has been practicing this week on a limited basis. … Vikings TE Tyler Conklin, who had career highs against Seattle with seven catches for 70 yards, didn’t practice Wednesday due to elbow and glute injuries.
SERIES NOTES: The Browns are just 2-6 at Minnesota but won their most recent visit in 2013 at the Metrodome. … The all-time series includes a 27-7 win by the Vikings on Jan. 4, 1970, that sent them to their first Super Bowl. That was the last NFL championship game, before the merger with the AFL that sent the Browns to the newly created AFC. … Browns backup QB Case Keenum led the Vikings to the NFC championship game after the 2017 season with his 61-yard TD pass on the final play to beat New Orleans in the divisional round, dubbed the “Minneapolis Miracle.”
STATS AND STUFF: Browns coach Kevin Stefanski returns to Minnesota, where he spent 14 seasons as an assistant in various roles culminating with offensive coordinator in 2019. Defensive coordinator Joe Woods and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer are among the seven assistants on Stefanski’s staff who previously worked with him with the Vikings. … Cleveland is 5-0 against NFC teams under Stefanski. … The Browns set a club record last week with 47 total yards allowed to the Bears. … Garrett’s 48 career sacks are the most by any NFL player in his first 54 games. … The Browns have scored at least 26 points in the first three games, a streak they haven’t had since their 1964 championship season. … Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. had five catches – four for first downs — for 77 yards last week in his first game since a knee injury on Oct. 25, 2020. … Rookie Demetric Felton had 103 yards on punt returns last week, far more than what the Vikings had (69) for the 2020 season. … Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has 200 straight attempts without an interception, one short of his team record set in 2019. … Cousins has 26 wins with the Vikings, the most in team history in a QB’s first 50 starts. … Vikings LB Eric Kendricks is second in the league in tackles (37). … RB Alexander Mattison had a career-high 112 rushing yards in place of Cook last week.
FANTASY TIP: Chase McLaughlin made four FGs last week, including a 57-yarder that was the longest by a Browns kicker since 1984. McLaughlin, who spent time on Minnesota’s practice squad in 2019, has not missed a kick this season.