The Vikings defense did some good things in the opener but it must eliminate big plays. Cornerback Charles Gordon lost a one-on-one matchup against Greg Jennings on a 56-yard pass play. A gap-control breakdown led to a 57-yard run by Ryan Grant. On offense, the Vikings hope to unleash their running game against a Colts defense that gave up 183 yards rushing and a 4.7-yard average against the Bears. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had a strong first outing with 103 yards rushing and one touchdown on 19 carries.
Just settle in and play. After sloppy performances on both sides of the football in last week's season-opening loss to the Chicago Bears, the Colts have to show more consistency in their performances.
Offensively, Indianapolis failed to take advantage of its red-zone scoring opportunities and did not run the football well. That has to get better, especially against a tough Minnesota defensive front. The Colts also have to control the tempo of the game.
Defensively, stop the run. The Vikings have one of the best running backs in the league, so it won't be easy. But slowing down Minnesota's running game is first and foremost on the Colts' defensive agenda. Also keep Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson in the pocket and don't let him have any breakouts with scrambles. But, above all, get back to playing the defense the way that it was designed.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Colts DE Dwight Freeney vs. Vikings LT Artis Hicks — Hicks is filling in for suspended starter Bryant McKinnie but has an injured elbow. If he can't play, then he'll be replaced by Marcus Johnson, who got his first experience at left tackle last week.
Colts QB Peyton Manning vs. Vikings secondary: The Vikings finished last in the NFL in pass defense last season and have a rookie starting safety, Tyrell Johnson. Manning will try and take advantage of Johnson's inexperience.
Vikings DL vs. Colts OL.: The Vikings heralded defensive line got held in check by a patch-work Packers line last week. DE Jared Allen did not have a tackle or sack in his Vikings debut and vowed to play better this week.
Colts LT Tony Ugoh vs. Vikings DE Jared Allen. Ugoh is in his second season as a starter for Indianapolis. He did not play due to injury when Allen was starting for the Chiefs last year. Allen, meanwhile, led the league in sacks during the 2007 season with 15.5. He had a big game against the Colts a year ago with six tackles and four passes batted down.
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson vs. Colts S Bob Sanders. Tony Dungy says that Peterson's running style reminds him of former Chicago Bears great Walter Payton and ranks him as one of the league's two best running backs (along with LaDainian Tomlinson from San Diego). Sanders was the NFL's 2007 Defensive Player of the Year and he loves to play the run. Something's gotta give.
Colts QB Peyton Manning vs. Vikings S Darren Sharper. Manning should be better, timing-wise, with his receivers with an additional week of practice after missing training camp and most of the team's preseason practices. Sharper is a veteran NFL safety who won't be too surprised by anything that the Colts try to do offensively.