The new era of the Indianapolis makes its first stop in Central Indiana Sunday, as the Colts will play host to the Minnesota Vikings at Lucas Oil Stadium in their home opener. It's the Colts second consecutive game against the NFC North to open the season, just like they did back in 2008 against the same two opponents (some interesting scheduling there, huh?)
The Vikings come into Week 2 1-0 after somehow pulling out a 26-23 OT win against the Jaguars last week, which saw them give up what looked like the game-winning TD with 20 seconds left, only to get a decent kick return, throw a 26 yard pass to former Colt Devin Aromashodu, and a quick out to TE Kyle Rudolph, and their kicker drill a 55 yard FG as time expired to send the game into OT. In the Overtime we got to see the new rules in action, as the Vikings kicked a field goal on the first possession, which meant the Jaguars got the ball back, and they turned it over on downs without a first down. A wild and wacky game that nobody outside Minneapolis and Jacksonville saw.
The other development for the Vikings last week was seeing that RB Adrian Peterson's knee looks to be just fine, as he ran for 80+ yards and two scores in the win last week. He's far and away their best player on Offense, and the Colts are going to have their hands full shutting him down. Their QB is second year man Christian Ponder, who I never cared much for in college, but has played fairly well so far in his career. Head Coach Leslie Frazier should also be a familiar name and face for Colts fans, as he was the Colts DB coach in 2005 and 2006.
This will be the 23rd meeting overall with the Vikings, and the Colts hold a 14-7-1 edge, including wins in the past three match-ups. In 2008, Peyton Manning gutted out an unbelievable performance on a still bum knee, the defense held the Vikings to five FGs, and Adam Vinatieri drilled a 47 yarder to win it with 3 seconds remaining, and 18-15 Colts win.
How will Sunday afternoon play out? Let's check the numbers and find out.
Statistical Comparison between the Colts and Vikings:
|Orange Zone Eff||50.0%||27||81.0%||28||65.7%||14||57.1%||9|
|Avg Start Pos||28.9||15||28.9||19||25.8||20||26.2||15|
|3 and Outs||3.00||11||7.00||1||4.00||19||3.00||15|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.302||3||0.686||17||0.810||18||0.333||29|
Keys to the Game:
- The Colts absolutely must clean up the Turnovers, as they can't turn the ball over five times once again, even against a lesser opponent. Ball security should be task one.
- Stopping the Vikings big-play ability. The Vikings had twelve plays of 15+ yards last Sunday, which you can see by their Yards/Play stat being so high. It certainly helped them at the end of the game as well. The Colts did give up the bomb to Alshon Jeffrey last week, but overall they were pretty good at stopping the big play last week. With the new take-more-chances defense, this could play a factor Sunday.
- The Vikings did not move the ball down the field consistently, however, as they were at the bottom of the league last week in Time of Possession per Drive, 3rd/4th down conversions, and Plays/Drive. The Colts defense might not be on the field that long against this seeminly boom or bust offense.
- On the flip side the Colts offense will see a similar defense to what they saw last week, but not nearly the talent the Bears have, which hopefully will make moving the ball down the field a little easier. The Colts had even less ToP/Drive than the Vikings did, so we may see a lot of quick drives.
- Not in the stats, but I expect the Colts to double-team Jared Allen quite often, and use more quick throws and max-protect plays. The Offensive Line got beaten time and again last week, and Andrew Luck can't keep getting pounded game after game. Allen is ridiculously good, so the Colts have to find a way to stop him.
This week and next week at home against Jacksonville are two great opportunities to build some confidence in a young team and go into the bye week with a 2-1 record. The Colts will have to slow down the Vikings two best players in Peterson and Allen, and if they can do that they stand a really good chance of getting that first win Sunday. I think the crowd will play a big part in the game, as they desperately want to have something to cheer about after last year's really, really long season. It'll be win #1 for the Andrew Luck era Colts.
Colts 20, Vikings 16