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Game Preview: Vikings vs. Browns

The Minnesota Vikings (5-2) play the Cleveland Browns (0-7) in London, England, at Twickenham Stadium in Week 8. The Vikings captured a 24-16 home victory vs. the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7. The Browns, who are designated the home team, are coming off a 12-9 overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans in Cleveland. The Vikings are 1-0 in their only regular-season game played in London, a 34-27 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013 at Wembley Stadium.

The Vikings offense, which ranks 12th in the NFL with 356.1 yards per game, has been led by WR Adam Thielen, who is fourth in the NFL with 529 receiving yards. QBs Sam Bradford and Case Keenum have both posted games of 340-plus passing yards and 3-plus touchdowns with no interceptions, making only the Vikings, Chiefs (Alex Smith twice) and Patriots (Tom Brady twice) as teams to have two such games this season. The Vikings first thrown interception of 2017 vs. Green Bay snapped the second-longest streak in team history at 184 consecutive passes without throwing an interception (193 in 1995). RBs Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray have filled the void left by rookie RB Dalvin Cook, helping the Vikings rush for 440 yards (146.7 per game) in the past three contests, second in the NFL since Week 5. Murray registered his first 100-yard game as a Viking, rushing for 113 yards and his first Vikings touchdown on 18 attempts (6.3 avg.). McKinnon has totaled 302 yards from scrimmage (211 rushing, 91 receiving) in the past 3 games, the 10th-best mark in the NFL in that span.

The Vikings run defense has held opponents to 76.6 yards per game (third in the NFL), 3.2 yards per rush (third in the NFL) and have allowed only one rushing touchdown (second in the NFL). DE Everson Griffen secured a sack in his seventh straight game vs. Baltimore, setting a new career high and is one of two defenders in the NFL to have at least one sack in every game in 2017 (Demarcus Lawrence, DAL). Griffen is third in the NFL with 9.0 sacks this season. Against the Ravens in Week 7, LB Anthony Barr totaled 11 tackles, 1.0 sack, 2 TFL and 1 PD, and fellow LB Eric Kendricks tied his career high in both tackles (13) and TFL (4). Kendricks' 4 TFL last week are tied for the most by a player in a single game this season.

BROADCAST

NATIONAL TELEVISION: NFL NETWORK (Ch. 4 WCCO in the Twin Cities)

Play-by-Play: Greg Gumbel Analyst: Trent Green

Sideline: Jamie Erdahl

NATIONAL RADIO: WESTWOOD ONE SPORTS

Play-by-Play: Tom McCarthy Analyst: Derek Rackley

LOCAL RADIO: KFAN-FM 100.3/KTLK-AM 1130

Play-by-Play: Paul Allen Analyst: Pete Bercich

Sideline Reporter: Greg Coleman

Pre-Game Show: Mike Mussman – 6:30 a.m. CT

KFAN and KTLK serve as the flagship stations for the 72-station, five-state Vikings Radio Network.

NORSEMAN NOTABLES

The Vikings defense has been one of the stingiest in the NFL on third down, holding opponents to a 27.3 percent (24/88) 3rd-down conversion rate, the second-best mark in the NFL.

The Vikings passing attack has accounted for 1,704 yards, eight touchdowns, two interceptions and a 95.1 passer rating, the ninth-best rating in the NFL.

Vikings DE Everson Griffen has a sack in seven consecutive games, setting a new career-high and tied for third-longest streak in Vikings history. DE Jim Marshall (1969) and DE Jared Allen (2011) hold the record with a sack in eight straight games.

WR Adam Thielen is the only receiver in the NFL with 5-plus receptions in all seven games in 2017.

The Vikings defense had 11 TFL vs. Baltimore, tied for third-most in the NFL in a single game in 2017.

The Vikings offense is tied for first in the NFL with the Rams and Patriots with 33 plays of 20-plus yards — 24 passing (tied for sixth) and nine rushing (second in NFL).

The Vikings have seven scoring drives of 80-plus yards in 2017, three more than they totaled in all of 2016.

Vikings S Harrison Smith, who had his fifth career interception in Minnesota's most-recent contest vs. Cleveland (9/22/13), caught his 15th career interception vs. Green Bay (10/15) and ranks tied for third in the NFL with three picks in 2017.

STAT OF THE WEEK

The Vikings defense has held opponents to an average of 4.0 yards after catch in 2017, the lowest in the NFL.

Opponent Average Yards After Catch - 2017

Rk) Team Opp. Avg. YAC

1) Minnesota Vikings 4.0

2) Pittsburgh Steelers 4.1

3) Houston Texans 4.2

Vikings–Browns Connections

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson coached on the same Cincinnati Bengals staff from 2012-13 and also coached for the Falcons at the same time in 2007.

Browns RBs Coach/Run Game Coordinator Kirby Wilson served as the Vikings RBs Coach from 2014-15.

Browns Stength and Conditioning Assistant Evan Marcus was the Vikings Head Strength and Conditioning Coach from 2014-15.

Browns Director of Football Administration Chris Cooper spent time as a Law Clerk for the Vikings in 2008.

Vikings Personnel Consultant Paul Wiggin was a standout DE for the Browns from 1957-67, never missing a game playing in 146 consecutive contests. In 2008, Wiggin was inducted as a Cleveland Browns Legend, a distinction for the top players in franchise history.

Local Connections

Vikings have three Ohio natives on roster — C Pat Elflein (Pickerington), LB Ben Gedeon (Hudson) and TE Kyle Rudolph (Cincinnati). Elflein is the lone Viking to have attended college in Ohio, playing at Ohio State from 2012-16.

Vikings Assistant DBs Coach Jonathon Gannon is a Cleveland native.

Browns S Briean Boddy-Calhoun played at the University of Minnesota from 2012-15.

Browns DBs Coach DeWayne Walker played collegiately at the University of Minnesota from 1980-81.

Browns Director of Scouting Mike Cetta graduated from the University of Minnesota.

Browns Manager of Player Engagement Ron Brewer previously spent time with the Vikings as a Player Development Coordinator.

College Connections

Vikings DT Jaleel Johnson (2012-16) and Browns LB Christian Kirksey (2010-13) played together at Iowa.

Vikings DE Everson Griffen (2007-09) joins four other USC Trojans from the Browns — OL Zach Banner (2013-16), QB Cody Kessler (2011-15), OL Marcus Martin (2011-13) and TE Randy Telfer (2010-14) — on the field for Sunday's contest.

This matchup that is part of the London Games features four former Miami Hurricanes — Vikings WR Stacy Coley (2013-16), Vikings G Danny Isidora (2012-16), Browns RB Duke Johnson (2012-14) and Browns TE David Njoku (2014-16).

BIG DAYS

RB Latavius Murray recorded his second career 100-yard rushing game and scored his third career touchdown (6-yard run) at Cleveland (9/27/15). Murray set a career highs in both carries (26) and rushing yards (139) in the 27-20 win over the Browns.

S Harrison Smith caught his fifth career interception vs. Cleveland (9/22/13) and added five tackles and a TFL in the contest.

Vikings CB Terence Newman snagged his fifth career interception vs. Cleveland (9/19/04).

Vikings DE Brian Robison sacked Browns QB Brian Hoyer in the most-recent matchup between the teams.

Latavius Murray…..1 game, 26 rushes, 139 yards, 1 TD, 54 long, 1 rec., 10 yards

Terence Newman...6 games, 34 tackles, 1 INT, 3 PD

Brian Robison…….2 games, 3 tackles, 1.0 sack, 2 TFL

Harrison Smith……1 game, 5 tackles, 1 INT, 1 TFL

SERIES INFO

Record vs. Browns Vikings 11-4

Last regular season game Browns 31, Vikings 27 (2013)

Vikings largest winning margin 48; Vikings 51, Browns 3 (1969)

Browns largest winning margin 6; Browns 23, Vikings 17 (OT) (1989)

Current series streak Browns 1

Vikings longest win streak 6, (1969-83)

Browns longest win streak 2, (1986-89)

Most Points, Vikings Vikings 51 (1969)

Most Points, Browns 31 (2013)

Most Points, both teams 58; Browns 31, Vikings 27 (1969)

Fewest Points, Vikings 10, (1967)

Fewest Points, Browns 3, Twice (1969, 1973)

Fewest Points, both teams 24; Browns 14, Vikings 10 (1967)

Series Notes

The Vikings hold an 11-4-0 advantage over the Browns in the 15 games between the two franchises.

The most-recent time the Vikings and Browns met was on 9/22/13, a 31-27 Browns victory.

This will be the first meeting between the Vikings and Browns during Mike Zimmer's tenure as the Vikings head coach. Zimmer faced the Browns 12 times from 2008-13 as the Bengals Defensive Coordinator, and Cincinnati had an 8-4 record in those games.

The Vikings and Browns have played one overtime game in series history, with the Browns defeating the Vikings 23-17 on 12/17/89.

The Vikings and Browns have met in the postseason once, a Vikings victory in the NFL Championship Game on 1/4/70, sending the Vikings to Super Bowl IV.

The Vikings largest margin of victory in club history came against the Browns in 1969 after a 51-3 victory in Minnesota.

A Win Would….

Keep the Vikings in first place in the NFC North.

Match the best start to a season through eight games since Mike Zimmer took over in 2014 — started 6-2 in 2015.

Move Zimmer's record as a head coach to 32-25 and give him his first win against the Browns in his first game vs. the franchise.

Would be the third win streak of four or more games for the Vikings under Zimmer — five-game streak from 10/18/15-11/15/15 and a five-game streak from 9/11/16-10/9/16.

International Series Notes

The Vikings experienced their first regular-season game on international soil in club history, a 34-27 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013. The Vikings have a proud history of playing internationally and were among the ground-breaking teams in the NFL to play overseas, playing the first NFL game in London (a preseason win against the St. Louis Cardinals in 1983) and the first NFL game in Sweden (a preseason win against the Chicago Bears in 1988). The Vikings are slated to play the Browns at London's Twickenham Stadium in 2017.

VIKINGS INTERNATIONAL GAMES

*preseason

8/6/83* London, England^ Minnesota 28, St. Louis 10

8/14/88* Goteborg, Sweden Minnesota 28, Chicago 21

8/7/93* Berlin, Germany Minnesota 20, Buffalo 6

8/6/94* Tokyo, Japan Minnesota 17, Kansas City 9

9/29/13 London, England^ Minnesota 34, Pittsburgh 27

10/29/17 London, England Minnesota at Cleveland

^Wembley Stadium

Twickenham Stadium

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