INDIANAPOLIS – Time to bounce back.
The Week 2 norm for the Colts is here for a 7th straight year, as Frank Reich and his team welcome the Minnesota Vikings to Lucas Oil Stadium.
Here are 7 things to watch for as the Colts (0-1) take on the Vikings (0-1) this Sunday at 1:00 PM:
1. Here Comes The Rook
The loss of Marlon Mack is immense, as the Colts lose a very good (and consistent) player at a position that often goes through injuries.
But Jonathan Taylor as the new starting running back does give the Colts more of a home-run option.
We saw Taylor’s speed in the open field against the Jaguars, mostly in the receiving game though. I would not be stunned to see Taylor get 15-20 carries in his starting debut. That’s workload he should be able to handle given what he did in college.
2. Finishing Drives
Frank Reich was not happy with himself for how the Colts performed in the red zone against the Jaguars (2-of-5).
This is not something we are used to from Reich-coached teams.
And he’s right—the Colts are typically a good red zone team. Producing more than 450 yards of total offense should lead to more than 20 points.
3. Stickier Coverage
We are here again with the Colts pass defense.
The Colts allowed Gardner Minshew to get way too comfortable in Week 1 and that cannot happen to a more potent Vikings offense.
Seeing the Colts use some more press man is something they say will happen on Sunday and it’s necessary to do a better job in disrupting timing.
4. More Defensive Playmaking
Going along with the point above, the Colts were void of the big-time play against the Jaguars.
Yes, you had the 4 sacks, but the Colts still couldn’t produce a turnover, for a unit that has a goal of 40 takeaways this season.
Honestly, it was hard to find a play where the Colts were actually close to forcing a turnover in Week 1.
5. Xavier Rhodes Seeing His Old Team
I’m betting on a little chirping between Xavier Rhodes and his former team on Sunday.
Rhodes’ debut with the Colts was not one to remember as he had a 30-yard pass interference penalty and a busted coverage in the game-winning touchdown.
From an intel standpoint, Philip Rivers definitely had Rhodes’ ear at some point this week trying to learn more about Mike Zimmer and the defensive personnel in Minnesota.
6. Big Weekend For Mo
What a terrific opportunity for Mo Alie-Cox this weekend. No Jack Doyle (knee, ankle) means Alie-Cox is the only Colts tight end on the 53-man roster, or practice squad, who has caught a pass in the NFL.
Alie-Cox turns 27 years old on Saturday as he plays his third NFL season. The Colts have not been shy about the big potential they believe Alie-Cox still has in him.
If he can show some of that against the Vikings, it would be a positive step in him being a definite long-term tight end, with Jack Doyle and Trey Burton hovering around 30 years old.
7. Kicker Watch
Um, duh, we would be foolish not to be keeping a close eye on the placekicking.
Clearly, the Colts are by signing a kicker (Matt Gay) to their practice squad this week.
Rodrigo Blankenship had some really good looking kicks in Week 1, but that miss from 30 yards cannot happen.
Bowen’s Prediction: Colts 27-24. How about a W for the 2,500 fans inside of Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday? Even though the Colts have had losing streaks of varying kinds under Frank Reich, they’ve often bounced back from the opener, or just particularly bad losses. After watching Minnesota in Week 1, this Vikings team is searching for answers along their defensive line (particularly in the interior) and within a young cornerback group. I see the Colts finishing off a couple more drives after the rare red zone struggles we saw in the opener. DeForest Buckner makes a big play on a potential game tying/winning drive against Kirk Cousins with the Colts avoiding that dreaded 0-2 start.