No Brandon Weeden. No Trent Richardson. No problem, right? That should be the case for the Vikings as they host the 0-2 Cleveland Browns at Mall-of-America Field for the home opener on Sunday.
THE LATEST: Willis McGahee will get in the game. The Browns signed him as veteran running back to replace Richardson. Meanwhile, Greg Jennings didn't practice Friday, but head coach Leslie Frazier told Vikings.com that Jennings was gone for a personal matter. He will play Sunday.
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Both teams already have only an 11.6 percent chance to make the playoffs after starting 0-2, but the loser of this game will all but kiss any hope of a playoff season goodbye. Sure, Cleveland already did that when they traded away Richardson for a future draft pick, but if the Vikings lose, all hell will break loose among the fan base.
The Browns signed 31-year-old running back Willis McGahee on Thursday, and he plans to play against the Vikings.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: September 9, 2009. It was the season opener in Cleveland. It was Brett Favre's first game as a Viking, and Percy Harvin's first game as a pro. Adrian Peterson scored three touchdowns, including this ridiculous 64 yard gallop. The Vikings won, 34-20.
PLAYER IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Forget player, how about entire unit. The Vikings' special teams will be in the spotlight after allowing a Bears record 249 yards to Devin Hester on kickoff returns last week. Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer tells the Pioneer Press that he's feeling "awful" after such a horrid performance.
"Absolutely no excuses," Priefer said. "We did a poor job. I did a poor job. We're going to be better next time we play them."
WHAT THE OTHER GUYS ARE SAYING: The only thing anyone is talking about in Cleveland is the Richardson trade. Fans are upset that Cleveland seemingly gave up on the season just two weeks into it. We did find one story, and it's Adrian Peterson telling reporters that the Browns are probably upset they passed on him in the 2007 draft.
"It’s been too long now -- that ship has sailed,” Peterson told the Plain Dealer. “If anything, they are probably more upset than I am still to this day . . . I could have been there. Things worked out perfectly."
BEST QUOTE OF THE WEEK SO FAR: "This is what we do." -- Adrian Peterson on the Vikings running the football. Peterson told the Pioneer Press he needed to do some "soul-searching" following last week's loss in Chicago. Peterson admitted he's been trying to break off too many long runs, and that he needs to start taking what the defense gives him.
INJURY UPDATES: The Vikings are mostly healthy other than fullback Rhett Ellison, who is doubtful with a hyperextended knee. If Ellison can't go, rookie Zach Line will be Adrian Peterson's lead blocker. Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton will return from a three-game suspension next week when the Vikings play the Steelers in London.
STAT OF THE WEEK: According to Yahoo! Sports, Adrian Peterson has averaged 160 yards over his last five home games. That is sensational.
THE LATEST LINE, OUR PREDICTION: Bovada.com has the Vikings as a 7-point favorite. This Browns' offense is going to be horrendous. They had just one touchdown through two games with their best quarterback and running back. The Vikings are allowing 32.5 points per game, and they might pitch a shutout. We won't go that far, but we'll take the Vikings by a score of 34-10.