Minnesota Vikings (5-2) vs. Cleveland Browns (0-7) in London
At 0-7, the Browns are winless to start the season for the second straight year, after starting last season 0-14. However, they rank 22nd in first down rate differential at -1.65%, so they’ve actually done a pretty decent job of putting together drives compared to their opponents. The problem is they can’t finish those drives, thanks to a league worst -11 turnover margin. Typically, I like to bet on teams with bad turnover margins because turnover margins tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, but the Browns’ quarterback situation is so bad that it’s hard to get excited about betting on them in any situation. On the season, they’ve thrown 17 interceptions (11 by DeShone Kizer, 5 by Kevin Hogan, and 1 by Cody Kessler), while no other team has thrown more than 10, and that is the single biggest factor in their turnover margin.
The Browns also enter this game banged up. They will be without defensive end Myles Garrett and cornerback Jason McCourty, arguably their two best defensive players this season, as well as left tackle Joe Thomas, their dominant left tackle who will miss the rest of the season after 10,363 consecutive snaps to begin his career. The Vikings are not a great team with Case Keenum under center, but they get Stefon Diggs back from a 2-game absence this week and I have these two teams about 10 points apart in my roster rankings given the injury situation of these two teams.
The Vikings are 9.5 point favorites in this neutral site game in London, so we aren’t really getting line value with them, but the better team does tend to cover in these neutral site games. Favorites are 19-9 ATS in neutral site games since 1989, including 11-1 ATS as favorites of 4 or more. It makes sense that the better team would be better prepared for playing in a weird neutral site overseas game like this. There isn’t enough line value for me to take the Vikings confidently, but they have a good chance to cover this spread.
Minnesota Vikings 24 Cleveland Browns 13
Pick against the spread: Minnesota -9.5