In Week 2, the Indianapolis Colts get a chance to move past their shocking defeat from the Jacksonville Jaguars, as they play the Minnesota Vikings in their home opener.
Both the Vikings and Colts are coming off difficult Week 1 losses. The Colts lost to an inferior opponent, and the Vikings got their doors blown off by a division rival. Both teams will be eager for their first victory of the season.
Here are the three key phases of the game that the Colts need to dominate, in order to grab their first win of the season.
1) Control Time of Possession
The Colts need to jump out ahead and control time of possession if they want to win this game. In Week 1, the Green Bay Packers ran 76 offensive plays compared to 47 for the Vikings. In Week 2, the Colts need to do their best to repeat this against the Vikings and put the pressure on Minnesota early. The Vikings are one of the best running teams in the league, but more importantly, they want to run the football. Kirk Cousins threw five passes in the first half in Week 1 — five. It seems the Vikings want to make their $96 million quarterback into a game-manager instead of a game-breaker. Time of possession is the most important part of this game, and it leads directly to my next key point…
2) Control the Line of Scrimmage
The Vikings made news a couple of weeks ago when they traded for Jaguars EDGE rusher Yannick Ngakoue. While homegrown pass rusher Danielle Hunter is currently on IR, the Vikings still have a talented front-seven and an excellent defensive-minded head coach behind them. The Colts offensive line only allowed one sack last week against a talented young Jaguars front, placing them in a good position for this game. The Colts’ defensive front forced four sacks last game, and heading into this match-up with a weak Vikings offensive line, they need to have a big game. The Vikings rely on their run game to set the tone and open up the play-action passing game off of it. If Minnesota can’t control the line of scrimmage, their entire game plan will be disrupted.
3) Don’t Let Philip Rivers Throw the Ball 46 Times
The Colts are a run-first team, and the injury to Marlon Mack should not change that. They drafted Jonathan Taylor in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft for a reason. Nyheim Hines is an extremely talented back in his own right, as he showed in Week 1. Even Quenton Nelson is better as a downhill guard rather than in pass protection (he’s excellent at both, I know). The Colts need to reclaim their identity and run the ball down the Vikings’ throat. After losing Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph in the offseason, the Vikings brought in former Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce. Pierce, however, decided to opt-out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. The Vikings’ interior defensive line is vulnerable. Forget what Aaron Rodgers did to their secondary in Week 1; Philip Rivers will not be doing that this season. The Colts need to use Rivers the same way the Vikings use Kirk Cousins: build up his success with early runs, and then play-action passing. If Philip Rivers throws for more than 35 passes in this game, we likely will find ourselves back here, sitting at 0-2, asking what went wrong.
(Featured Image Credit: Indianapolis Colts)