Vikings take another swing at division clinch vs. Colts

December 15, 2022 GMT
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Minnesota Vikings' Justin Jefferson runs during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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Minnesota Vikings' Justin Jefferson runs during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)


Saturday, 1 p.m. EST, NFL Network


AGAINST THE SPREAD: Colts 5-8; Vikings 6-6-1

SERIES RECORD: Colts lead 18-7-1

LAST MEETING: Colts beat Vikings 28-11, Sept. 20, 2020, at Indianapolis

LAST WEEK: Colts had bye, lost to Cowboys 54-19 on Dec. 4; Vikings lost to Lions 34-23





TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Colts minus-14; Vikings plus-6

COLTS PLAYER TO WATCH: CB Stephon Gilmore. The 2019 AP Defensive Player of the Year has played well in his healthiest season since winning the award. The Colts need Gilmore to make his presence felt, whether he’s playing man coverage against Justin Jefferson or asked to take on other receivers while teammates work to attempt to slow down Jefferson.


VIKINGS PLAYER TO WATCH: Jefferson set the regular-season franchise record with 223 receiving yards against Detroit. With 4,516 yards, he’s already 10th in Vikings history at age 23. Jefferson leads the NFL with 1,500 yards this year.

KEY MATCHUP: Colts defense vs. Vikings running game. The Colts have allowed 533 rushing yards and seven rushing TDs over their current three-game losing streak. Vikings RB Dalvin Cook had just 151 yards on 57 carries over the past three games, an average of 2.65 yards per attempt. His season average of 4.46 yards per rush is the lowest of his six-year career.

KEY INJURIES: Colts nickel CB Kenny Moore (ankle) missed the previous game and didn’t practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. RT Braden Smith (illness) missed the previous game, but was back at practice this week as a full participant. The Colts are hoping both players can return. ... Vikings LT Christian Darrisaw (concussion) has cleared the protocol and will be back from a three-game absence. C Garrett Bradbury (back) and S Harrison Smith (neck) are expected to return after missing the previous game. ... CB Cameron Dantzler (illness) did not practice Tuesday or Wednesday.

SERIES NOTES: The Colts have won six straight games against the Vikings, the most recent loss was at the Metrodome in Minnesota in the 1997 regular-season finale when they finished 3-13. ... Colts DEs Yannick Ngakoue and Ifeadi Odenigbo were the two starters for the Vikings for the first six games of the 2020 season before Ngakoue was traded. Now Odenigbo backs up Ngakoue, who’s on his fifth team in 3½ years. ... Nate Burleson had a 91-yard punt return for a TD for the Vikings against the Colts in 2004. He’s the analyst for this game on the NFL Network broadcast.


STATS AND STUFF: The Colts are 1-3 under interim coach Jeff Saturday and have lost six of their past seven games. ... With 13 pass attempts, Colts QB Matt Ryan will pass Ben Roethlisberger (8,443) for fifth place on the NFL’s career list. Ryan leads the league with 18 turnovers. ... Colts RB Jonathan Taylor needs 139 rushing yards for his second straight 1,000-yard season despite missing three games. He needs 34 rushing yards to pass Randy McMillan (3,876 yards) for ninth in franchise history. ... Colts WR Michael Pittman Jr. ranks sixth in the AFC with 76 receptions. ... The Colts defense has had 41 negative-yardage running plays, second most in the NFL. The Colts also are tied for the second-fewest overall plays (141) of 10 or more yards allowed this season. ... The Vikings can clinch the NFC North title with a win. ... Since becoming the full-time starter for Washington in 2015, Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has 41 games of 300-plus passing yards to rank third in the league behind Tom Brady (47) and Ryan (46). ... Cousins had a season-high 124.4 passer rating for the Vikings at Detroit and became just the fourth QB in the past three years to pass for 400-plus yards without an interception and lose the game. ... The Vikings defense has allowed 400-plus yards for five straight games, the longest streak in team history. ... Vikings OLB Za’Darius Smith leads the NFL with 70 pressures and 49 hurries, according to Pro Football Focus calculations. ... Ryan Wright has 24 punts of 50-plus yards this season, a Vikings rookie record.

FANTASY TIP: Greg Joseph is 10 for 10 on field goals for the Vikings over the past six games. He has averaged 7.2 points per game during that span.


AP NFL: and