The Minnesota Vikings and Indianapolis Colts both entered the 2020 season with plenty of Super Bowl buzz, but both teams got off to disappointing starts in Week 1. The Colts suffered the biggest upset of any team, as they went into Jacksonville and lost to a Jaguars team many expected to be tanking this season. Philip Rivers threw a couple of crippling interceptions down the stretch, so at least we know at least something about 2020 is predictable.
The Vikings, meanwhile, got absolutely thrashed at home by the Packers. Minnesota opened the season as the slight favorites over Green Bay in the NFC North, yet Aaron Rodgers had no problem slicing and dicing his way through the Vikes’ new-look defense.
Both 0-1 teams will square off this Sunday in Indianapolis. Home-field advantage without fans in the stands is likely negligible, but Indy still opens as a three-point favorite over Minnesota. The game has an over/under of 48 points, as well.
In addition to the game, the Indianapolis Colts also lost their starting running back last week. Marlon Mack, who topped 1,000 rushing yards a season ago, is now done for the season after tearing his Achilles. Indianapolis promoted Daurice Fountain off the practice squad, but it’s safe to expect Nyheim Hines and Jonathan Taylor to get the majority of the reps out of the backfield.
The Colts took Taylor out of Wisconsin in the second round of the draft for this specific purpose. Taylor is one of the most prolific college running backs ever, and draftniks believe he is ready to start right away. Well, he’ll now get his chance.
Taylor picked up just 22 yards on nine attempts last week against the Jaguars in his debut, but he did quite a bit of damage in the passing game. Taylor hauled in six passes for 67 yards, which ranked second on the team behind Parris Campbell.
Jonathan Taylor had 89 yards AFTER the catch in Wk 1.
With a largely unproven rushing attack, though, the Colts may have to take to the air more often. Philip Rivers didn’t have a great debut, but he did complete 36 of his 46 attempts for over 360 yards. Were it not for the pair of back-breaking picks, the Colts would likely be 1-0 right now.
Rivers should have plenty of opportunities to do damage against a revamped Vikings secondary. Minnesota parted ways with several starters on defense over the offseason, and the lack of familiarity and preseason reps was very evident last week against Green Bay. Chemistry doesn’t build overnight, which means there will likely be a significant learning curve for this defense.
Vikings’ Offensive Firepower
That Minnesota defense is clearly a work-in-progress, but things looked smooth offensively for the Vikings in Week 1. Kirk Cousins completed 19 of his 25 throws for 259 yards with a pair of touchdowns, while Adam Thielen looked every bit like the WR1 the Vikes are banking on him being. Thielen caught a team-high six passes for 110 yards with a pair of touchdowns.
Dalvin Cook carried the ball 12 times for 50 yards and two touchdowns of his own, but he wasn’t overly involved with the Vikings facing a huge deficit for most of the game. We can expect a heavy dosage of Cook in Indianapolis assuming the Vikings are able to keep this game closer, That said, Indy was one of the best run-stopping units in football last season. The Colts allowed just 97.9 rushing yards per game last season, which ranked fifth in the league.
Adam Thielen is the 2nd highest-graded red-zone WR since 2018: 84.5
We’ll see who steps into Stefon Diggs’ shoes as the No. 2 option in the receiving game behind Thielen. Justin Jefferson was tapped for that job after being picked in the first round, but the LSU product was limited to two catches for 22 yards in the opener. Bisi Johnson and Tajae Sharpe have big-play potential, but it will likely fall on Jefferson to emerge as the second choice pass-catcher behind Thielen.
Vikings at Colts Pick
I think both teams are better than they looked in Week 1. That said, the Vikings’ path to contention looks a bit more difficult than the Colts. While Indy suffered the most embarrassing loss of any team in Week 1, they still played decently enough to win the game. Were it not for Rivers’ clumsy turnovers, they’d be 1-0.
Rivers is hard to trust, especially at his age. Even the best quarterbacks don’t always age gracefully. He’s always been a guy that turns the ball over. It’s just who he is. On the flip side, I don’t think he’s completely washed up, either. The Colts are still a contender in the AFC, and I’d be very surprised if they didn’t manage to win the AFC South.
I don’t expect the Vikings’ leaky defense to fix itself instantly, which means the Colts should be able to move the ball at will in this game. As long as Rivers can avoid throwing the ball into quintuple coverage, Indy should put some points on the board. Getting Taylor going in the running game could help take some of the pressure off of Rivers’ shoulders, and that should be the team’s offensive plan of attack in this one.
The Colts should cover the three-point spread at home in Week 2. A high-scoring affair is certainly possible, but Indy covering is my preferred bet for this game.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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