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Twickenham unlikely to see a lot of points in NFL showdown

Defences should be strong

Minnesota quarterback Case Keenum
1 of 1

BBC2, 1.30pm Sunday

Organisers will be hoping that the final London game of the season will be a competitive affair after a trio of one-sided encounters, but bookmakers believe Minnesota should have few problems inflicting an eighth defeat of the season on Cleveland.

The Browns took Tennessee to overtime last week, which would suggest that maybe the first victory of the campaign is not too far away, but they are 9.5-point underdogs against the NFC North leaders at Twickenham.

That may raise a few eyebrows as while the Vikings have won five of their seven matches, they are 19th in the points-scored rankings and will probably need to step on the gas to cover even though Cleveland are averaging just 14.7 per outing.

What the Vikings have done well is cope with injury problems. Case Keenum has stepped in well to fill in for quarterback Sam Bradford and they  could be boosted even further in the next few weeks as Teddy Bridgewater continues to recover from a serious knee injury.

Running back Dalvin Cook has had his rookie season curtailed by injury but former Oakland rusher Latavius Murray is stepping into the breach well.

It is their defence, however, who are earning most of the plaudits and the fact the Browns are much better on that side of the ball goes a long way towards explaining why the total-points line is just 38.

Cleveland's number one draft pick, defensive end Myles Garrett, is unavailable due to concussion but they have been particularly strong against the run and that could curtail their opponents.

That would give them a chance to cover the handicap for the third time this season but that would still mean they have to get their act together offensively, where a lack of continuity has left quarterbacks DeShone Kizer and Cody Kessler struggling.

Running back Isaiah Crowell has also failed to score a touchdown, so the best bet could be to back more than 3.5 field goals.

The Vikings restricted Baltimore to just six successful third-down conversions from 16 attempts last week and there could be plenty of kicks through the posts at the home of rugby union.

Recommendation
Over 3.5 field goals
1pt 23-20 Ladbrokes

The lowdown
Venue Twickenham
Surface Grass
Weather Sunny, 11C
Vegas handicap Minnesota -9.5
Vegas points line 38

Touchdown scorers
Minnesota
S Diggs 4, J McKinnon 3, D Cook 2, K Rudolph 2, L Murray 1, CJ Ham 1, J Wright 1.
Cleveland
D Njoku 3, D Johnson 3, D Kizer 2, K Britt 1, C Coleman 1, J McCourty 1.

Team news
Minnesota
Receivers Stefon Diggs and Michael Floyd, tackle Riley Reiff, guard Nick Easton and cornerback Mackenzie Alexander are all questionable.

Cleveland
Offensive tackle Joe Thomas is out for the season with an arm injury and defensive end Myles Garrett has not travelled. Safety Jabrill Peppers is questionable while cornerback Jason McCourty is doubtful. Receiver Kenny Britt has recovered from a knee injury and should play.

Key stat
The points total has gone under the line in 11 of Cleveland’s last 15 matches


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While the Vikings have won five of their seven matches, they are 19th in the points-scored rankings and will probably need to step on the gas to cover
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