After a tough loss to the division rival Detroit Lions last week, the Minnesota Vikings find themselves in need of a bounceback victory that would clinch the NFC North title. The Indianapolis Colts have been defensively sound this season, but their offense lacks firepower. Quarterback Matt Ryan has turned the ball over repeatedly, and the offense as a whole ranks 25th in yards per game. Saturday provides an incredible opportunity for the Vikings defense to get back into rhythm and climb their way out of the struggles of the past 5 weeks.
The Vikings have continued to rely on Justin Jefferson and TJ Hockenson to win games and to catch balls in the biggest moments. However, with the Colts already having one of the best pass defenses in the league, Dalvin Cook and the running game need to take the pressure off of Kirk Cousins. The return of Christian Darrisaw should aid in this transition. Defensively, Minnesota hopes to get Harrison Smith on the field this week, and doing so will greatly diminish communication errors in the secondary that were evident in Detroit.
Alec Pierce, Michael Pittman Jr., and Jonathan Taylor are strong weapons that Minnesota will struggle to defend. However, the basis of this Indianapolis offense, in Matt Ryan and the offensive line, is deeply troubled. Matt Ryan has failed to execute as he had previously in Atlanta, and the continuous pressure that the offensive line allows him to face has led him to lead the league in both fumbles and interceptions. The weak Minnesota defense will allow him to put points on the board. Nonetheless, with Vikings defensive coordinator Ed Donatell promising changes in defensive execution, the pass-rushing duo of Za’darius Smith and Danielle Hunter will eventually lead Ryan into making critical errors.
While both Kirk Cousins and Minnesota have struggled against Indianapolis in their last few matchups, the new Kevin O’Connell-led Vikings are hungry to make a statement at home this week. This Vikings team has dominated the turnover margin repeatedly, and this Colts team will allow this trend to continue, resulting in a 27-17 Vikings win.