12 Things to Watch for in Sunday’s Colts-Vikings Game
Meh, he doesn’t look so horrible
Last week, the Colts dropped a tough one to Chicago. Now they look to avoid an 0-2 start by upending the Vikings at Lucas Oil Stadium. It’s the home debut of Andrew Luck, and fans are frothing at the mouth to see the savior of the franchise live. Here’s what to watch for…
1. Watch the rhythm. The Colts offense sputtered at times against Chicago in part because the Bears are a great defense, but also because of injuries to two guys that Luck threw to plenty in camp. Austin Collie and T.Y. Hilton may not both play, but either one of them will greatly improve the synergy of the Colts’ offense. Getting back a wideout with whom he feels comfortable will do wonders for the rookie.
2. Watch the Viking warrior. Adrian Peterson is already a legendary running back, but what he did last week against Jacksonville bordered on the super-human. Just months off of ACL surgery, Peterson tore up the Jaguars with several impressive runs. His comeback was a sight to behold. This will likely be the only time he plays in Indianapolis in his career, so enjoy the chance to see him while you can. Or rue the chance. Either way, don’t look away.
3. Watch for better coverage. Last week, the Colts faced Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey, and Earl Bennett. This week, they’re looking at Percy Harvin, Michael Jenkins, Devin Aromashodu, and Stephen Burton. Harvin’s speed could give them trouble, but he doesn’t have the pure physicality of Marshall. The defensive backs could still be bad, but it’s hard to get worse than last week.
4. Watch for more interceptions, but don’t let them bother you. Andrew Luck may well lead the NFL in picks this year. That’s ok. In fact, it’s irrelevant. If Luck is to grow into this offense, Indy has to keep throwing it, and keeping throwing it aggressively. Fans get bent out of shape about picks, because they cost ball games, but they don’t correlate year to year. Luck will throw more than 20 by the time the season is over, and that shouldn’t make you bat an eye.
5. Watch for more offensive balance. Last week Andrew Luck’s pitch count was a little higher than the team would like. While the run game was inconsistent it also was pretty effective. If Bruce Arians hopes to keep Luck upright and alive he needs to stick with the run. That will be a challenge given the state of the offensive line.
6. Watch for Percy Harvin in the kick game. Harvin put up gawdy all-purpose yards against the Jaguars and would love a repeat performance against the Colts. He’s a weapon in the offensive attack as we mentioned but the real threat is special teams. His speed will be a real challenge for the Colts cover units. He shortens the field and is a homerun threat. Perhaps he’ll wake up with a headache. Otherwise he’s going to be a headache for the Colts.
7. Watch for contemplation. Christian Ponder has a name straight out of a C.S. Lewis book. I half expect him to enter through the tunnel on a talking goat with wings named Cabrasus who instructs him in ways of Tarklington, the great quarterback/feline/diety of yore. I don’t really have a point here, I’m just saying…it could happen.
8. Watch the proving ground. Anthony Castonzo had a solid game amongst the raft of putrid that was the Indy O-line in Week 1. This week, he has to take on Jared Allen. Allen was whipped by Eugene Monroe of the Jagauars last week, so he’ll enter this game angry. If Castonzo can force Allen into a second-consecutive rough outing, it will go a long way toward establishing him in the eyes of the coaches as plus going forward.
9. Watch for the run stopper. Kavell Conner had a very good game against the run both last week, and in the preseason. He continues to show great awareness and instincts in attacking the ball carrier, but doing it against Adrian Peterson will be a whole new challenge. With Angerer still out, watch for Conner to take charge.
10. Watch for a rotting interior. The interior offensive line has been the weak spot so far this season, and by weak I mean non-existent. With Reitz still out this week, Seth Olsen will continue to get abused, especially when matched up with a guy like Kevin Williams.
11. Watch for homefield advantage. The Vikings are 0-10 in Indianapolis. As hard as it is to imagine they’ve never won one at Lucas Oil nor the old RCA/Hoosier Dome. The fans will turn out big for Andrew Luck’s home debut and provided it’s competitive keep the energy amped. With little more focus and the help of their home crowd the Colts could turn away the Viking invaders once again.
12. Watch for a win. Indy’s not a great team right now, but I can’t see Christian Ponder winning a big road game. The crowd will be into it, and that alone should be enough to push the Colts to a tough 27-24 win.