When the Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns clash at Wembley Stadium on October 29, the showdown will not only be a chance for UK fans to see some live NFL, but for the latter to revive their season. According to reports, Brown's rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer explained is back in the starting line-up:
“It is another opportunity to go out there and get it right for once. For me, it is about taking these opportunities that coach has been able to give me in a league where not a lot of guys get these and maximizing it for once.”
With a 12-9 loss to the Tennessee Titans prior to the trip across the pond, Browns’ coach Hue Jackson will be looking to get the best out of his main quarterback in the unfamiliar surrounds of London. During his recent outing against the Titans, Kizer showed some promise early in the game, completing 6-of-6 passes for 44 yards in the first quarter and 9-of-11 by the close of the opening half.
With his arm loose and his eye on the target, Kizer looked to be the man capable of dragging the Browns out of their recent slump. Unfortunately, a crucial miss when Rashard Higgins was wide open proved costly and saw Kizer’s stats take a tumble. After going 3-for-7 in the second half, Kizer was pulled from in favour of Cody Kessler.
This patchy form is something that’s caused the Browns a plethora of problems this season, but Jackson still appears to have some faith in his quarterback. If he’s able to find his best form, Kizer can inspire something special from his teammates and that could be enough to get them over the line in London.
As it stands, the Vikings have won only once in London and that was back in 2013 when they squeezed out a victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In recent weeks, a three-game winning streak has seen Minnesota’s finest run over the Bears, the Packers and the Ravens.
However, with four losses, including a 9-26 drubbing at the hands of the Steelers, there are certainly chinks in the Vikings’ armour that an in-form Kizer could expose. For those on the side of the Vikings, some impressive defensive performances this year will provide some confidence.
Looking at the stats, the Vikings defence has held teams to just 4.0 yards after a catch. As well as proving the line-up is capable of stifling any receivers, the figure is the lowest in the NFL and 0.1 yards better than the Steelers. In context, this suggests that even if Kizer can find his range, receivers such as Higgins, Josh Gordon and Kenny Britt could still struggle.
In the eyes of the odds makers, this dynamic has pushed the money line in favour of the Vikings. At Ladbrokes, the odds of 2/9 says the London leg of the NFL regular season will go Minnesota’s way. Across the line, 7/2 is the best price you’ll find for the Browns, but for those with an eye for some value a score-based bet could be in order.
Paddy Power is offering odds of 4/5 for the Browns to score under 13.5 points. Given the Vikings’ current penchant for crowding out receivers, this could be a solid wager. Following the same train of thought, 4/5 on the Vikings to score more than 23.5 points holds some value, but, for our money, 6/1 on a winning margin of between 19 to 24 points is a better bet.
For the casual fans who are tasting their first lot of NFL action in the UK, Ladbrokes is offering some fun in the form of timed bets. Essentially a way for those without an in-depth knowledge of the NFL to speculate on what might happen, the 60-minute mark market adds another layer of interest to the game.
With the Vikings currently being the top pick, it’s little surprise that you’ll receive only 2/9 on the team winning at the 60-minute mark. However, if you fancy something a little more lucrative, a tie at this stage would return you 20/1 on your investment. Is it likely given the Vikings’ ability to score points and the Browns looking shaky at times? Possibly not.
The NFL in London is a chance for newbies to get a feel for the game and that means an outlandish bet is always worth a punt. Much like the Grand National is a chance for casual horseracing fans to try their hand at something new, the Vikings vs the Browns is the perfect time to bolster your bankroll with a few exotic wagers over at Ladbrokes!