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2020 Opponent Scouting Report: Vikings Special Teams, Final Thoughts and Predictions

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Overview

On September 20th, 2020 the Indianapolis Colts will host the Minnesota Vikings. In this Week 2 match-up, I sought to understand our opponent and get a better idea of how they may attack our Colts.

All time our Colts have a 17-7-1 record against the Vikings. All things considered that’s a pretty solid record. The last time the Colts lost to the Vikings was back in December of 1997. Jim Harbaugh wasn’t known for wearing khakis, Bill Polian was employed by the Carolina Panthers and Peyton Manning had yet to star in a single commercial. Those days are long gone and in the four years it’s been since our Colts beat the Vikings 34 to 6, almost nothing in the NFL is the same.

Let’s see what we can expect in week two.


Special Teams


Kicker:

NFL: NFC Wild Card-Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook -USA TODAY Sports

Dan Bailey began his kicking career with the Dallas Cowboys in 2011. For the first four or five years of his career he was very accurate. In both 2017 and 2018 Bailey, made 75% of his kicks, earning his way out of Dallas in 2017. The Vikings signed the former kicking stud and stuck by him during his 2018 struggles. In 2019 Bailey went 27 for 29 (93%) but he did miss four extra point attempts (40 for 44).

Bailey seems to have mostly put his slump behind him and looks to be back to the kicker he was prior to 2017. I believe this game will be close and could come down to kicks. If it does the Vikings have the advantage over the Indianapolis Colts’ rookie Rodrigo Bankenship.


Punter:

Divisional Round - Minnesota Vikings v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Britton Colquitt, like Dan Bailey, has been around the NFL for more than a decade. Colquitt won a super bowl with the Denver Broncos, spent three years in football purgatory with the Cleveland Browns (where his workload was, as you might expect, excessive) and has now called Minnesota home for the past two seasons. Here are some accomplishments directly from his vikings.com profile:

  • In 2019 became the 4th NFL punter since 1991 to not record a single touchback in an entire season (min. 40 punts). Became the 1st NFL punter since 1991 to record 0 touchbacks and a net punting average of 42.0 yards or higher.
  • Set a Vikings single-season record with a net punting average of 42.6 yards in 2019
  • Became the 4th NFL player and 2nd Viking (Ryan Quigley, 2017) since 1991 to not record a single touchback in a season (min. 40 punts) and the only player to do so with a net punting average of 42.0 or higher.
  • Recorded a punt of 50 yards or longer in all 15 games in which he punted, the only player in the NFL to do so in 2019.

So 2019 was a career year for Colquitt, though I suspect it might be due to the fact that before he got to Minnesota he played all of his home games outdoors, even with Denver’s thin air his ability to punt the ball into the wind is the same as everyone else’s. Having said that Lucas Oil Stadium is (mostly) an indoor stadium and field position could be a huge factor in this weeks contest. Colquitt could prove to be a weapon for the Vikings this week.


Returner:

NFL Combine - Day 3 Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

K.J. Osborn was selected in the 5th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. I have no proof of this next theory but if I were a betting man and Vikings GM Rick Spielman were willing to tell the truth, I would wager the Vikings selected the 5’11” 203 pound receiver out of Miami for his ability to return kicks and punts.

In week one Osburn returned two kicks, one for 26 yards, the other for 38. I realize it’s a small sample size but I’m not going to try to find any 2019 Miami Hurricanes games to scout his return ability, but based on his first two kick returns it seems that Osborn is a real threat.


Final Thoughts for The Week:

These two teams are very evenly matched. If the Colts come out and play their game at their pace, they should win the game. If the Vikings come out and play their game at their pace, they should win the game. Both offenses match up really well against both defenses. In fact, the only real advantage I can find for either team is the fact that the game is being played in Indianapolis.

Because 2020, has been 2020, even home field advantage and the 7.500 fans who make it to Lucas Oil Stadium this week, won’t be much of an advantage.

If my final score prediction comes to fruition it will be heartbreaking and Colts fans all over the internet will collectively lose their minds and call for everyone’s job. If the Colts do lose this game, please don’t do that. Let’s wait until they lose at home to the New York Jets in week three before we collectively rage against the Colts machine.


Predictions

  • Jonathan Taylor will find plenty of room to run and will approach his first 100 yard rushing game.
  • T.Y. Hilton will have a much better game, even if the stat sheet doesn’t reflect it.
  • DeForest Buckner will have his first and second sacks as an Indianapolis Colt.
  • Final Score:

Colts 17

Vikings 20