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Lunchbreak: Vikings Run Defense Searching for Better Results

Week 4 of the NFL season wraps up tonight, meaning all but two teams have played four games thus far.

And of those 30 teams, the Vikings are included in a group of six whose defense has allowed at least 100 rushing yards in every game so far.

ESPN Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin noted after Sunday's game that she is wondering "What's wrong with the Vikings run defense?"

Cronin wrote:

Minnesota spent the entire offseason rebuilding its run defense, but the results have not played out in the Vikings' favor. Cleveland entered Week 4 averaging 5.1 yards per rush and put up 184 yards rushing at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings had to finish the game without DT Michael Pierce, who aggravated an elbow injury he has been dealing with the past few days. … The Browns repeatedly pounded the rock with Nick Chubb (21 carries, 100 yards) and Kareem Hunt (14-69, TD), which wore Minnesota's defense down up front and continues to be one of the main reasons the Vikings have struggled defensively this season.

According to Next Gen Stats, Chubb (15-80) and Hunt (12-64) did the brunt of their damage on perimeter runs.

The Vikings allowed 149 rushing yards to the Bengals in Week 1 before giving up 103 rushing yards in Arizona and 106 rushing yards against Seattle. But the highest total allowed came in Week 4 when Cleveland ran the ball 38 total times.

Minnesota is among a group that includes Miami, the New York Jets, Seattle, San Francisco and Philadelphia as teams who have allowed at least 100 rushing yards in each game in 2021.

The Vikings currently rank 25th in the NFL with 135.5 rushing yards allowed per game.

As for the state of the Vikings overall, Cronin wrote her confidence level in Minnesota is a 6.0 out of 10.

The winless Lions let the Bears rush for 188 yards. Minnesota has Detroit at home and another week to get Dalvin Cook (who looked like he might have reinjured an ankle in the third quarter) up to speed — or hand the reins to Alexander Mattison again — so the Vikings can do the same.

The Vikings host the Lions at home Sunday. Kickoff is at noon (CT).

View game action photos from the Vikings game against the Cleveland Browns at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Vikings get 'B-' grade from CBS Sports

The weekly game grades from CBS Sports are out, and Josh Edwards has given the Vikings a decent mark for their showing in Week 4.

Edwards handed out a ‘B-’ to Minnesota after a 14-7 home loss to Cleveland.

The defense played somewhat well, although Baker Mayfield certainly aided their efforts. They recorded three sacks and made a big fourth-down stop in the first half. The ground game was awful and Kirk Cousins was good, but not great after an effective and efficient opening drive. The opening drive ended with a TD, but the Vikings wouldn't sniff the end zone for the rest of the game.

Edwards gave Cleveland a 'B+' and noted Mayfield's shaky play prevented them from getting an even higher grade.

The defense was sensational yet again. The Minnesota ground game was held to 2.8 yards per carry despite Dalvin Cook's return to action. Greedy Williams essentially ended the game with an interception. The reason this grade was not higher is because Baker Mayfield was awful. Odell Beckham, Jr., had a step on more than one occasion, but Mayfield was off-target. The first required some pocket movement from the quarterback but it still should have been completed. The Nick Chubb-Kareem Hunt tandem was huge again.

Here is how CBS Sports has graded the Vikings through four weeks:

Week 1: C

Week 2: B

Week 3: A-

Week 4: B-