2020 Colts Preview: Colts/Vikings, Week 2

After a disappointing road loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars to open up the season, the Indianapolis Colts (0-1) are playing host to the Minnesota Vikings (0-1) this week in their 2020 home opener at Lucas Oil Stadium. Check out the official game preview.

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INDIANAPOLIS — It's time to open up Lucas Oil Stadium for the 2020 season.

After a disappointing road loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars to open up the season, the Indianapolis Colts (0-1) are playing host to the Minnesota Vikings (0-1) Sunday in their 2020 home opener.

Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.

The Colts were able to get off to a fast start in last Sunday's Week 1 matchup against the Jaguars, but ultimately were unable to consistently capitalize in the red zone on offense, and at times allowed second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew II to move up and down the field with relative ease on defense, in their 27-20 season-opening loss.

The Vikings, meanwhile, also fell in divisional play to open their season, allowing 522 total yards to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in their 43-34 Week 1 loss.

So what all should we be looking for when this thing kicks off? Here is the official game preview.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

  • Sunday, Sept. 20, at 1 p.m. ET
  • Indianapolis; Lucas Oil Stadium
  • TV: FOX — Tim Brando (play-by-play), Robert Smith (color) and Sarah Kustok (sideline)
  • Colts Official App (*Geographic and device restrictions apply. Local & primetime games only. Data charges may apply.)
  • Colts.com mobile website (Safari browser ONLY)
  • Yahoo! Sports mobile browser or app
  • Click here for MORE WAYS TO WATCH.
  • To find out what games will be on in your area, click here.
  • Local radio: Colts games can be heard in Indianapolis on 93.5, 107.5 and 1070 The Fan and 97.1 HANK FM, plus the desktop version of Colts.com with Matt Taylor (play-by-play), Rick Venturi (color), Larra Overton (sideline) and Bill Brooks (pregame/postgame analyst) on the call.
  • National radio: Fans can listen to the live local call on Colts.com (desktop only) and NFL Game Pass. Get your free seven-day trial by clicking here.

*Please check your local TV listing to confirm availability. iOS mobile web and app users should "Allow Location Access" (via Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Safari).

ALL-TIME SERIES

  • Colts lead, 17-7-1; Colts are 11-0 all-time against the Vikings at home.
  • Last game — Week 15 of 2016; Colts won, 38-6, in Minneapolis.

COACHING STAFF

Colts:

  • HC Frank Reich
  • OC Nick Sirianni
  • DC Matt Eberflus
  • STC Bubba Ventrone

Vikings:

  • HC Mike Zimmer
  • OC Gary Kubiak
  • DC Andre Patterson/Adam Zimmer
  • STC Marwan Maalouf

LAST WEEK

Colts:

  • Lost @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0), 27-20

Vikings:

  • Lost vs. Green Bay Packers (1-0), 43-34

INJURY UPDATE

Colts:

  • OUT — TE Jack Doyle
  • DOUBTFUL — N/A
  • QUESTIONABLE — S Julian Blackmon, DE Justin Houston, WR Zach Pascal, WR Michael Pittman Jr., CB Isaiah Rodgers

Click here to read more on the injury report for Sunday's game.

Vikings:

  • OUT — CB Cameron Dantzler
  • DOUBTFUL — N/A
  • QUESTIONABLE — N/A

STORYLINES/THINGS TO WATCH

  • How will the Colts bounce back from a tough Week 1 loss? — The Colts were a confident bunch heading into their 2020 season opener on the road against a divisional foe in the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday, and certainly looked the part early on, as they quickly marched right down the field on their opening drive to score a touchdown, got a stop on defense and then got all the way down to the Jacksonville 3-yard line on their second offensive drive. But the Jaguars would stuff running back Nyheim Hines' rushing attempt on 4th and 1, and the momentum suddenly shifted; it was a back-and-forth battle the rest of the way, but the host Jaguars would ultimately come out on top, due in large part to the Colts' various issues in the red zone and a couple turnovers on offense and their inability to stop quarterback Gardner Minshew II's quick-strike passing attack on defense. So how will this team respond now that it will be facing another tough opponent in the Vikings on Sunday in Indy? Will it apply the lessons learned from the Jaguars film and start building some positive momentum?
  • Rookie Jonathan Taylor gets the start at running back — One of the key storylines coming out of the Colts' Week 1 loss to the Jaguars was the loss of starting running back Marlon Mack, who suffered a season-ending Achilles injury midway through the second quarter after getting off to a nice start both running the ball and in the passing game. The Colts will certainly miss Mack, who earned his first-career 1,000-yard rushing season last year, but they'll have to forge on with the likes of Taylor and third-year backs Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins. Reich said it's the rookie Taylor who will be the starter moving forward, and he certainly has the résumé to back up such a role: he was selected by the Colts in the second round (41st overall) of this year's NFL Draft out of Wisconsin, where in just three years he racked up the sixth-most rushing yards in NCAA history and was a two-time Doak Walker Award winner. Taylor will be doing some learning on the fly — that's just the way it goes for any NFL rookie running back, especially in a year in which there was no on-field work during the offseason or preseason reps. But his talent and his fit is undeniable; we'll see how he fares in his first start against a Vikings defense that allowed 158 rushing yards in its season-opening loss to the Green Bay Packers.
  • Xavier Rhodes takes on his former team — Motivation certainly won't be an issue for the veteran cornerback Rhodes on Sunday, as he faces his former team, the Vikings, for the first time. Rhodes was the Vikings' first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, and he would end up playing the first seven years of his career in Minnesota, earning three Pro Bowl selections, as well as a First-Team All-Pro nod back in 2017. But back in March, the Vikings unceremoniously cut the veteran cornerback, despite the fact he had signed a reported five-year extension worth $70 million with the team back in 2017. Now with the Colts on a reported one-year, Rhodes hopes to use some of his inside knowledge of the Vikings' offense to his advantage on Sunday — although he says there are no hard feelings going into the game. "It's all love," Rhodes told reporters earlier in the week. "I was there for seven years. It was a brotherhood when I was there, and it's still a brotherhood to this day. So it's going to be good going against those guys.

INTRIGUING MATCHUPS

  • Colts DT Grover Stewart vs. Vikings Dalvin Cook — While the Colts are certainly looking to do a better job in coverage than they did in Week 1, when Gardner Minshew II completed 19-of-20 passes and had three touchdowns, their primary goal this week is to stop the Vikings' run attack led by the Pro Bowler Cook, who was just signed to a hefty contract extension. Cook is coming off an outstanding 2019 season; he had 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground and also hauled in 53 receptions for 519 yards through the air. The fourth-year veteran Stewart is the Colts' primary run stuffer up front from the 1-tech position and is coming off a 2019 season in which he received a solid 70.5 run defense grade from Pro Football Focus. After Stewart & Co. helped limit the Jaguars to just six combined rushing yards in the second half last Sunday, they'll hope to keep it going Sunday against the talented Cook, who had 12 rushing attempts for 50 yards and two touchdowns Week 1 against the Packers.
  • Colts CB Xavier Rhodes vs. Vikings WR Adam Thielen — While Rhodes might not be in coverage against Thielen on every snap, one can imagine the rest of the Colts' secondary will be relying on Rhodes' intel on the Vikings' top receiver throughout the contest. After all, Rhodes and Thielen went against each other in practice every day for six seasons when they were teammates in Minnesota; it was certainly an "iron sharpens iron" type scenario, as both Rhodes (2016, 2017, 2019) and Thielen (2017, 2018) were able to earn multiple Pro Bowl selections during their time together. Thielen was up to his old tricks in last Sunday's Week 1 loss to the Packers, hauling in six Kirk Cousins passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns, so perhaps Rhodes can draw from the past to help slow down the 30-year-old receiver.
  • Colts RB Jonathan Taylor vs. Vikings LB Eric Kendricks — Taylor is set to make his first-career NFL start in his second game Sunday against the Vikings. He also made his first collegiate start at Wisconsin in his second game of his freshman year in 2017; that day against Florida Atlantic, Taylor ran the ball 26 times for 223 yards — for an insane average of 8.6 yards per carry — with three touchdowns. One can imagine Kendricks and the Vikings defense will do everything they can not to let Taylor have a similar performance in the first start of his NFL career. Kendricks is coming off the best season of his career in 2019, when he was named First-Team All-Pro and selected to his first Pro Bowl; he had an elite 90.1 run defense grade from PFF last year as he racked up 110 tackles (four for a loss) with two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. It'll be fun to watch these two go at it all afternoon in Indy on Sunday.
  • Colts RT Braden Smith vs. Vikings DE Yannick Ngakoue — Same face, different place. Smith and Ngakoue are already very well aware of each other from their twice-yearly meetings the last couple seasons when Ngakoue was with the division rival Jaguars. In four previous games primarily lining up opposite Smith at left defensive end, Ngakoue has 11 total tackles (one for a loss) with two sacks, five quarterback hits and two forced fumbles. After having his trade request granted by the Jaguars, who sent him to the Vikings on Aug. 30 in exchange for a 2021 second-round draft pick and a conditional 2022 fifth-round draft pick, Ngakoue can now primarily do his damage in another division — heck, in another conference, for that matter. But after a quiet performance in his Vikings debut last week against the Packers, Ngakoue gets an early chance to take on an old foe this week.

REFEREE ASSIGNMENT

BETTING LINE

REGULAR SEASON LEADERS

Colts:

  • Passing — QB Philip Rivers (363 yards)
  • Rushing — RB Nyheim Hines (28 yards)
  • Receiving — WR Parris Campbell (71 yards)
  • Touchdowns — RB Nyheim Hines (2)
  • Tackles — LB Darius Leonard (9)
  • Sacks — DT/DE Denico Autry (2.0)
  • Interceptions — N/A

Vikings:

  • Passing — QB Kirk Cousins (259 yards)
  • Rushing — RBs Dalvin Cook & Alexander Mattison (50 yards each)
  • Receiving — WR Olabisi Johnson (56 yards)
  • Touchdowns — RB Dalvin Cook (2)
  • Tackles — LB Eric Kendricks (10)
  • Sacks — N/A
  • Interceptions — N/A

COMPARING 2020 STATS

Colts:

  • Total offense — 3rd (445.0 YPG)
  • Scoring — Tied-19th (20.0 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 3rd (357.0 YPG)
  • Sacks allowed — Tied-4th (1)
  • Rushing offense — 23rd (88.0 YPG)
  • Third down offense — Tied-24th (33.33 percent)
  • Red zone offense — Tied-25th (40.00 percent)
  • Total defense — 2nd (241.0 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — Tied-22nd (27.0 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 2nd (150.0 YPG)
  • Sacks — Tied-2nd (4)
  • Rushing defense — 11th (91.0 YPG)
  • Third down defense — Tied-19th (50.00 percent)
  • Red zone defense — Tied-27th (100.00 percent)
  • Time of possession — 6th (33:23)
  • Turnover differential — Tied-26th (-2)

Vikings:

  • Total offense — 10th (382.0 YPG)
  • Scoring — Tied-4th (34.0 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 11th (248.0 YPG)
  • Sacks allowed — Tied-13th (2)
  • Rushing offense — 12th (134.0 YPG)
  • Third down offense — Tied-9th (50.00 percent)
  • Red zone offense — Tied-8th (75.00 percent)
  • Total defense — 32nd (522.0 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 32nd (43.0 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 31st (364.0 YPG)
  • Sacks — Tied-30th (0)
  • Rushing defense — 29th (158.0 YPG)
  • Third down defense — Tied-30th (54.55 percent)
  • Red zone defense — Tied-9th (50.00 percent)
  • Time of possession — Tied-31st (18:44)
  • Turnover differential — Tied-19th (-1)

NOTES AND QUOTES

  • With 1.5 sacks, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner will reach 30.0 career sacks.
  • With one touchdown, Jack Doyle will pass Ken Dilger (18) and tie Tom Mitchell (19) and Dwayne Allen (19) for the fourth-most total touchdowns by a tight end in team history.
  • With one receiving touchdown, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton will tie Dallas Clark (46) for the sixth-most receiving touchdowns in team history.
  • With one game with 10+ receptions, Hilton will pass Don McCauley, Lydell Mitchell, Joe Washington, Anthony Johnson and Dallas Clark, all with three, for the third-most games with 10+ receptions in team history.
  • With 12 receptions, running back Nyheim Hines will tie Joe Washington (127) for the third-most receptions by a Colts running back in their first three seasons in the NFL. He would also tie Washington for the 10thmost receptions by a Colts player in their first three seasons.
  • With five tackles, linebacker Darius Leonard will pass Quentin Coryatt (297) for the fifth-most tackles in a player's first three seasons in Colts history.
  • With seven tackles, Leonard will reach 300 career tackles. Since at least 1987, he would become the first NFL player to eclipse 300 total tackles in his first 30 career games. Since at least 1987, Patrick Willis registered the most tackles (295) in a player's first 30 career games from 2007-08.
  • With two passes defensed, cornerback Xavier Rhodes will reach 75 career passes defensed.
  • If he starts and wins one game, Philip Rivers will tie Fran Tarkenton (124) for the eighth-most wins as a starting quarterback in NFL history.
  • With one game started, Rivers will tie Terrell Suggs (226) for the 11th-most games started in NFL history.
  • With 24 passes completed, Rivers will pass Dan Marino (4,967) for the fifth-most passes completed in NFL history.
  • With 366 passing yards, Rivers will reach 60,000 career passing yards. He would become just the sixth player in NFL history to reach that plateau, joining Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Dan Marino.
  • With two touchdown passes, Rivers will reach 400 career touchdown passes. He would become just the sixth player in NFL history to reach that plateau, joining Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Dan Marino.
  • "Yeah, I do think that it was a good start. I think there is even more in there. In fact, I think there is a lot more in there. I'm really excited about Parris. I have been from day one. He's very versatile. He's strong. He's fast. He's smart. He's disciplined. He's everything we want. He's the kind of guy we want on our team. I just think he's still young and growing. You can see his speed and explosiveness out there. He knows how to set up routes. I think he'll continue to develop and hopefully we can continue to develop his role in our offense." — Colts head coach Frank Reich on wide receiver Parris Campbell
  • "There is no question that we need to improve that, and we will improve that. We have confidence in our process. We have confidence in our players and we have confidence in our scheme. There is no question that that has to improve, and it is going to improve. We just are going to keep chipping away at it. We'll get better at it as we go." — Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus on his unit allowing some high completion percentages to opposing quarterbacks the last few games dating back to last season.
  • "Yeah, we definitely want to establish our run game as well and get that going as well. A strength of our team is our offensive line, and they just played a great game. I mean, the pass protection on Sunday was outstanding – one of the best I've ever been a part of in the NFL. They just did an outstanding job. So again, we want to lean on the guys that we know can help us win football games and that's the offensive line whether that is in the pass game or in the run game, they are going to help us win games." — Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni on getting away from the run game a little bit last Sunday against the Jaguars.
  • "I'm 100 percent comfortable. Whatever they ask me, I feel like I have the ability to go out and do those things. Whatever my role consists of, whatever they ask of me, I'm definitely 100 percent comfortable in doing that." — Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell, on how versatile he thinks he can be now in his second year in the offense.
  • "It's a business at the end of the day. I've been in the league going on eight years man, I've seen it happen multiple times and as you see we see it on ESPN with different players. It's just a business. That's how things go. You just have to move on and just go with your new team, your new family and not allow that to get to you because you have to know at the end of the day it is a business." — Colts cornerback Xavier Rhodes on if he will be holding any grudges against his former team, the Vikings, who released him after seven seasons this offseason prior to signing in Indy.

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