Indianapolis Colts vs Minnesota Vikings: 5 Keys to the Game for Indy

Matt Madsen@mmadsen5Correspondent IISeptember 14, 2012

Indianapolis Colts vs Minnesota Vikings: 5 Keys to the Game for Indy

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    Hopefully, you didn't start Andrew Luck on your fantasy football team last week.

    The former Stanford man threw only one touchdown, which was more than offset by his four turnovers.

    Granted, he was facing a defense that held Aaron Rodgers and the high-octane Green Bay Packers offense in check on Thursday night; Luck and his limited weaponry stood little chance.

    But that's not the case this week.

    The Indianapolis Colts host the Minnesota Vikings in what promises to be one of the most winnable games on the Colts schedule.

    With that in mind, here are the keys to the game for the Colts.

Somebody Block Somebody

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    I can't imagine a more frustrating rookie debut than the one Andrew Luck endured.

    Luck was sacked only three times, but he was pressured on nearly every play. Often, the pressure came so quickly that he was never able to set his feet before being forced off the spot.

    The consistent pressure in and around the pocket led to the rookie throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble.

    Against the Bears, everybody can shake their head with pity as if to say they understand.

    Against the Vikings, that will be unacceptable.

    The Vikings allowed the second worst opponent-completion percentage last season, only better than the Colts. They allowed the most touchdown passes in the league (34) and tied for the fewest interceptions (Colts, 8).

    In short, this is not a good pass defense.

    But they might look that way if Anthony Castonzo and Co. can't block Jared Allen and Brian Robison.

Reggie Wayne Has to Dominate Antoine Winfield

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    Reggie Wayne was Andrew Luck's favorite target in Week 1—by far.

    Wayne's 18 targets were three more than any other receiver in the NFL last week. Coby Fleener was the second most targeted receiver on the team, racking up 10 targets.

    The Vikings' Antoine Winfield will be lining up against Wayne frequently in this Week 2 matchup. According to Pro Football Focus, Wayne took 32 snaps in the slot last week, which is where Winfield does the majority of his work.

    Luck will want to get the ball to his most-trusted targets, and that means Wayne has to beat Winfield. Based on the throws he made last week, Luck is a fair bet to throw into coverage if he sees a window. Hopefully, Wayne can produce some open windows for his young teammate.

Make Christian Ponder Win the Game

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    Even though he looked sharp last week, Christian Ponder is the weak link of the Vikings offense.

    Playing coverage games and bringing creative blitz packages will get the Colts one thing: run over.


    The Colts only hope defensively is to stack the box and gang-tackle Adrian Peterson. Luckily, he's still going to be somewhat limited by his still-recovering knee.

    If there was ever a time to play AP, this isn't a bad one.

    By stacking the box and playing man on the outside, the Colts will put the pressure on Ponder to make accurate throws and take care of the football.

    Personally, I fear Ponder less than the guy known as "All Day."

    But maybe that's just me.

Stick to the Running Game

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    The NFL in 2012 is a passing league. We've heard it a million times, and it's 100-percent true.

    I get it.

    But if you have a rookie quarterback, you should not have a 75-to-25 pass-to-run ratio. Luck's 45 passes tied him with Aaron Rodgers for sixth most in the league in Week 1.

    That's not a good thing.

    Furthermore, the run game wasn't awful.

    Donald Brown was given the ball only nine times, but he averaged 5.3 yards per carry. His 18-yard touchdown run was one of the few bright spots for an uneven Colts offense.

    I expect this game to be closer throughout, so the Colts will be more dedicated to running the ball and resting their defense.

Take Care of the Ball

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    This is one of the most commonly used keys to winning any football game.

    The old adage rung absolutely true for the Bears in Week 1. If you win the turnover battle, you win the game.

    Colts fans watched in agony as they turned the ball over again and again. Good drives were thrown away (literally).

    Luck's mistakes can be corrected; there's no doubt about that. It was his first game, and many of his errors can be attributed to simply adjusting. He isn't used to corners with the kind of athleticism that Tim Jennings showed last week.

    He just has to account for what defenders are capable of at this level.

    Easier said than done, no doubt. Nonetheless, it must be done. If Luck ever wants to be the quarterback that many expect him to be, he will have to cut down on the turnovers.

    He has a chance to start this week while facing an underwhelming pass defense.

    Even Blaine Gabbert passed all over them.