Hard-core stats: Minnesota Vikings vs. Indianapolis Colts

The Minnesota Vikings are favored to win and it might help that Colts QB Andrew Luck has struggled with right shoulder and elbow injuries. Pass protection will be huge, as many of the analytics show in this matchup.

A weekly look at the Vikings’ upcoming matchup featuring numbers that shouldn’t give the reader a headache or require an advanced mathematics degree to decipher.

Week 15

Indianapolis Colts (6-7) at Minnesota Vikings (7-6)

Last Week

The Vikings overcame red zone woes to outlast two-win Jacksonville, 25-16. Indianapolis rallied from a 16-3 third-quarter hole but came up short against Houston, 22-17.

The Series

Counting one playoff game won by the then-Baltimore Colts, this will be the 25th meeting between the two franchises. The Colts hold a 16-7-1 advantage. The teams last met early in the 2012 season at Indianapolis where the Colts prevailed, 23-20.

Freaky Facts

  • In NFL history, there have only been four games with the final score of 25-16. Two of them have occurred this year and both were Minnesota wins (over Tennessee in Week 1 and last week against Jacksonville).
  • Entering the Jacksonville game, the Vikings had just four pass plays over 40 yards this season. They recorded three such plays in the first half versus the Jaguars.
  • The Vikings’ first two drives on Sunday resulted in 100 yards yet only 6 points.
  • On the season, the Minnesota offense is averaging 1.52 points per drive. In the second half at Jacksonville, the Vikes averaged 4 points per drive.

Scary Stats

  • After averaging 4.1 yards per carry in its previous three games, Minnesota sunk to a 2.9 average against Jacksonville.
  • Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon combined for 67 yards rushing on Sunday; according to Pro Football Focus, 54 of those yards came after contact.
  • The Vikings failed to score from the 1-yard line on two separate drives on Sunday. Asiata was stuffed at the 1 on both third and fourth down of one drive and he fumbled at the 1 on a later drive. The last three weeks, the Vikings have a 36.36 percent red zone touchdown scoring percentage.

Deceptive Digits

Minnesota has 12 interceptions on the season; however, the Vikings have no picks in their past three games.

Penalty Palooza

The Vikings and Jaguars combined for 21 penalties for 207 yards. The Colts and Texans combined for 16 penalties for 183 yards.

Turnover Tale

The Vikings remain second in the league at plus-12. Minnesota has 22 takeaways. The Colts are at minus-5 for the season and only have 12 takeaways.

Backing Bradford

Minnesota had outstanding production when passing on first down against Jacksonville. Sam Bradford went 8-for-9 for 146 yards, averaging a whopping 16.22 yards per attempt. Running the ball on first down was another story. The Vikings gained 38 yards on 18 carries, for a paltry 2.11-yard average. Bradford has been excellent all season passing on first down, completing 114 of 149 (76.51 percent) for 1,195 yards (8.0 yards per pass) with three TDs and no interceptions.

Last week, the much-maligned Minnesota offensive line had one of its best games of the season in terms of pass protection. The line didn’t permit a sack and allowed only 10 pressures, despite Bradford holding onto the ball longer than normal to take more downfield shots. According to PFF, when Jacksonville blitzed Bradford, he went 12 of 15 for 138 yards with a TD and a 127.2 rating.

On the season, Bradford is 304-for-427 (71.2 percent) for 2,954 yards (6.9 per attempt) with 14 TDs, three interceptions and a 98.2 rating. Surprisingly, Bradford’s best deep threat is unheralded Adam Thielen, who has 56 catches for 758 yards (13.5). Stefon Diggs remains the team’s leading receiver (78-861) with tight end Kyle Rudolph (58-573) and Cordarrelle Patterson (44-352) also making significant contributions.

With the league’s worst rushing attack (73.4 yards a game and 3.0 yards per carry), Minnesota will once again have to rely on Bradford’s right arm to deliver a win against the Colts. Are the Colts vulnerable to such an attack? Yes.

Colts Watch

Opposing quarterbacks have compiled a 97.2 rating against the Colts, who are last in the league in yards allowed per drive (36.4) and 28th in points allowed per drive (2.37). Indianapolis ranks 26th, surrendering 262.4 yards passing a game and has recorded just seven interceptions and 25 sacks. The Colts give up 6.0 yards a play, which puts them tied with Cleveland as the second-worst team in that category.

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has produced a decent season, completing 282 of 448 (62.9 percent) for 3,381 yards (7.5 per attempt) with 25 TDs, 10 interceptions and a 95.3 rating. However, last week against Houston, the banged-up Luck struggled, as he completed just 53.3 percent of his passes, threw two picks and averaged only 6.1 yards per attempt. According to PFF, Luck’s passer rating for the 23 dropbacks when he faced pressure was 62.9. For the 23 dropbacks when he wasn’t under duress, Luck’s rating improved only to 73.6. He wasn’t helped last week by wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, whom PFF credited with three drops.

The Indy QB has elevated his performance this year when playing the NFC North. In three games against the Packers, Bears and Lions, Luck is 82 of 122 (67.21 percent) for 988 yards (8.10 per attempt) with seven touchdowns, two interceptions and a 104.1 rating.

Luck’s main targets in 2016 are explosive wideout T.Y. Hilton, who has 78 catches for 1,203 yards (15.4) and six touchdowns, and reliable tight end Jack Doyle, who has caught 48 passes for 496 yards (10.3) and four TDs. Unlike the Vikings, Luck does have the benefit of a running game. The ageless Frank Gore has rushed for 790 yards (3.8 a carry), which is just 164 yards below Minnesota’s entire team production. The 33-year-old Gore is also a threat as a receiver. He’s caught 31 passes for 237 yards and four scores.

Vikings Watch

If the Vikings play like they did last week against Jacksonville, they should be able to contain Luck and company. They held the Jaguars to 315 yards and recorded four sacks, despite blitzing just 11 times, per PFF. Defensive end Everson Griffen had a monster game with two sacks, four hurries and a batted pass. He has eight sacks on the season. Fellow defensive linemen Danielle Hunter (10.5 sacks) and Brian Robison (seven sacks) will look to target the right side of the Colts offensive line, which struggled last week against Houston. PFF calculates that rookie right guard Joe Haeg allowed three QB hits and four hurries, and right tackle Joe Reitz permitted two sacks and four hurries.

Minnesota has held opposing quarterbacks to a 77.0 rating, recorded 35 sacks and is third in the league in points allowed per drive (1.50).

The Best of the Rest

When the Vikings have the ball

  • Points per game: 19.8 (24th)
  • Colts’ points allowed per game: 25.6 (25th)
  • Yards per game: 303.0 (31st)
  • Colts’ yards allowed per game: 377.8 (29th)
  • Third-down conversion rate: 37.9 percent (20th)
  • Colts’ opponent third-down conversion rate: 41.3 percent (23rd)
  • Red zone TD percentage: 45 percent (29th)
  • Colts’ opponent red zone TD percentage: 48.84 (6th)

When the Colts have the ball

  • Points per game: 25.2 (9th)
  • Vikings’ points allowed per game: 17.3 (3rd)
  • Yards per game: 357.3 (14th)
  • Vikings’ yards allowed per game: 304.3 (3rd)
  • Third-down conversion rate: 43.3 percent (8th)
  • Vikings’ opponent third-down conversion rate: 38.0 (10th)
  • Red zone TD percentage: 63.64 percent (6th)
  • Vikings’ opponent red zone TD percentage: 54.55 percent (17th)


FiveThirtyEight gives the Vikings a 68 percent chance of beating the Colts on Sunday and a 19 percent chance of making the playoffs. 


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