The Vikings aren't exactly sure of their identity if Randy Moss doesn't play, while the Colts know their M.O. but have seemed to lose their way the last two weeks. Get matchups, stats and injury news from both locales.
VIKINGS GAME PLAN
Although coaches have said the Vikings can't afford to become a one-sided running team with Moss hobbled, look for them to try exactly that. RB Onterrio Smith
returns from his four-week drug suspension and is primed physically and mentally to have a huge game.
After all of the miscommunication between QB Daunte Culpepper
and his receivers in last week's 34-13 loss to the Giants, the Vikings need to run the ball. Running the ball will give the Vikings' offense rhythm and also keep Peyton Manning
and the Colts' offense off the field.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Vikings CBs Antoine Winfield and Brian Williams vs. Colts QB Peyton Manning and WR Marvin Harrison. Manning doesn't scramble, but he has been sacked only four times, the least in the NFL. Winfield and Williams need to play tight coverage because Manning gets the ball out quickly and Harrison runs precise routes. Manning leads the NFL in touchdown passes with 22. Harrison is tied for third in the NFL with seven touchdown receptions.
Vikings MLB E.J. Henderson vs. Colts RB Edgerrin James. Henderson is rounding back into shape after missing two games earlier because of a sprained right knee. But he made some alignment and adjustment mistakes against the Giants. He can't make the same mistakes against the Colts. James is ninth in the NFL with 668 yards rushing. He has a 4.4-yard average and five TDs.
Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper vs. Colts passing defense. The Colts are last in the NFL in overall defense (418.7) and passing defense (305.9). The next worst passing defense belongs to New Orleans, which is allowing 30.4 fewer yards passing per game. Culpepper is coming off his worst game of the season and probably won't have Moss. It will be interesting to see how Culpepper bounces back from his only bad game of the season.
Tice said he has made his decision on whether or not to play WR Randy Moss (strained right hamstring). He won't reveal the decision, but indications are he will rest Moss this week in hopes he will be ready to play the following week at Green Bay. Moss hasn't missed a game in his seven NFL seasons. He played only 11 snaps the last two weeks and didn't catch a pass in either game. Moss is the Vikings' best player, so losing him in a Monday night road game likely will result in a loss.
WR Marcus Robinson (sprained left foot) insists he will be able to play against the Colts. An extra day to heal will help. The Vikings need him, especially in the red zone, where he resembles Moss. If Robinson and Moss both didn't play, the Vikings would be desperately thin at receiver.
WLB Chris Claiborne (strained left calf) is out for the third consecutive week. He'll have a hard time getting his starting job back when he returns.
RB Mewelde Moore has a sprained left ankle, but it isn't expected to keep him from starting on Monday. If he can't start, the Vikings are in good shape because Onterrio Smith returns from his four-week drug suspension.
COLTS GAME PLAN
Be more consistent on offense and back to basics on defense.
While the Colts' offense ranks second in the league, consistency has hurt on the team in recent weeks. Indianapolis needs to do a better job of taking advantage of field position and completing drives.
Defensively, the Colts want to play a more straight-up scheme and blitz less. Indianapolis has gotten itself into matchup problems the last two games by getting away from what it does best.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Colts pass offense vs. Vikings pass defense: Indianapolis ranks second in pass offense, averaging 302.9 yards per game. Minnesota ranks 27th in the league in pass defense, giving up an average of 243.4 yards per game.
Vikings running game vs. Colts run defense: Indianapolis is giving up an average of 112.9 yards per game. The Colts gave up 143 yards and three TDs to Kansas City Chiefs RB Priest Holmes last week. Minnesota ranks 11th in the league with an average of 123.1 yards per game.
Colts QB Peyton Manning vs. Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper: Two of the premier quarterbacks in the National Football League face off on a national stage. Manning has 22 touchdown passes and just four interceptions this season.
SS Mike Doss hopes to be able to see some light work when practice resumes on Thursday. Doss suffered a strained groin at Kansas City.
FS Cory Bird remains questionable for the Vikings game. Bird did not play against the Chiefs due to a strained right calf and knee.
CB Joseph Jefferson may be able to return for the Vikings' game. Jefferson has been bothered by a strained tendon in his right knee.
OG Tupe Peko should be able to play this week after limited duty in the Chiefs' game due to lower back spasms.
LB Keyon Whiteside has been placed on injured reserve after suffering torn patella in his right knee. He is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
WR Brad Pyatt should be able to play against the Vikings. Pyatt has missed the last two games with a sprained right ankle.
WR Brandon Stokley will be available for the Minnesota game. Stokley has been nursing a sore shoulder and thigh.
21st meeting. The Colts lead the series 12-7-1, and have won the only post-season meeting (24-14, NFL Western Conference Championship, 12/22/68). Minnesota has won five of the last six meetings. The two franchises met twice annually from 1961-66 and once a year from 1967-69. The two teams have only met five times since the 1970 NFL merger (1971, 1982, 1988, 1997, 2000). Indianapolis posted a 31-10 win at the RCA Dome on December 24, 2000. The Colts earned a playoff berth with the win.