Why Week 4 vs. the Browns is a must-win game for the Vikings

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Adam Thielen
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Adam Thielen /

While it’s only Week 4 of the NFL season, a win for the Minnesota Vikings over the Cleveland Browns this weekend would go a long way for their playoff hopes.

The Minnesota Vikings find themselves at home this weekend against the Cleveland Browns, and while Cleveland is a team that seems destined for a playoff berth this season, the Vikings find themselves in a less than favorable situation.

Minnesota is currently sitting at 1-2 after a rough start to the year. However, they could easily be 2-1 right now, and potentially even 3-0. But they don’t have time to dwell on the past.

It’s still very early in the season, but the Vikings are essentially in a must-win situation already if they have any hopes of making the playoffs this year.

Minnesota Vikings entering a must-win situation vs. Cleveland Browns

Minnesota has one win to their name so far this season, and that win came against a struggling Seattle Seahawks team that has been less than impressive this so year. The Vikings’ two losses came against good opponents, albeit beatable opponents that Minnesota just could not capitalize against.

The Vikings now find themselves against one of the premier teams in the NFL, and if they want to prove that they have what it takes to make the playoffs, they need to beat the Browns this weekend.

A win this weekend could give Minnesota some much-needed momentum as they continue to face one of the hardest schedules in the league, and sitting at 2-2 when the Detroit Lions come to town in Week 5 would feel a lot better than 1-3.

Momentum is not a quantifiable stat, as it’s just more emotional than it is a statistic. But according to Playoffstatus.com, the Vikings’ probability to miss the playoffs would sit at 72 percent if they were to lose to Cleveland this week.

Minnesota’s probability to miss the playoffs currently sits at 67 percent, and a win would slightly lower their chances to 65 percent. While an improvement of two percent or a drop of five percent doesn’t seem very big, sitting at a 65 percent chance to miss the playoffs looks a lot better than being at a 72 percent chance.

The Vikings’ probability to miss the playoffs could even drop to 62 percent if the Lions beat the Chicago Bears and the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Green Bay Packers this weekend. But Minnesota still needs to control what they can control and do their job.

If the Vikings were entering this week at 2-1 or even 3-0 then there wouldn’t be as much pressure surrounding this game against the Browns. But sadly that is just an “if”.

At 1-2, Minnesota can ill-afford many more losses this year. With teams such as the Packers (twice), San Francisco 49ers, and Los Angeles Rams still on their schedule, they need to show that they mean business this weekend.

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A win over Cleveland this week could mean a lot for the Vikings’ playoff chances, and a loss could sound the alarms in the Twin Cities, especially in the Mike Zimmer household.