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Lunchbreak: An NFL 'Top Storyline' Will Impact Vikings in Week 2

With Week 1 now in the rearview mirror, plenty of big headlines emerged from around the league.

Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com took a look at his 10 "top storylines" after the first slate of games, and one such storyline will impact the Vikings in Week 2: "The Colts will look a lot different without Marlon Mack."

Mack suffered a season-ending injury against the Jaguars and will not be on the field Sunday when the Vikings come to town. Rosenthal wrote:

Colts [Head Coach] Frank Reich does not want Philip Rivers to throw the ball 46 times each week, like he did in a frustrating loss in Jacksonville. Mack's torn Achilles tendon, however, makes the team more one-dimensional. There were a lot of positive developments from the Colts offense in a game where they racked up 445 yards with youngsters like receiver Parris Campbell and running backs Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines all playing well, but Rivers leading a one-dimensional attack inspires flashbacks to his San Diego days with Reich. Taylor can be a three-down playmaker, but the rookie's apprenticeship lasted all of one week.

The Vikings last played the Colts in 2016, and they have never defeated the team on the road in 11 combined trips to Baltimore (eight games from 1961-68) and Indianapolis (2000, 2004 and 2012).

Minnesota is familiar with Rivers, though, and most recently faced the quarterback last season when he was still with the Chargers. The Vikings ran away with a 39-10 win in Los Angeles after forcing seven turnovers.

PFF Says 'Patience is Key' in Regards to Vikings Young Defense

The Vikings will be looking to bounce back after a loss in which they allowed the Packers to rack up 43 points at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Analytics site Pro Football Focus each week runs its "ReFocused" series and takes a deeper look at each game. PFF's Anthony Treash broke down Sunday's Border Battle. He wrote:

[Aaron] Rodgers and the Packers lived and died by underneath route concepts and quick passes throughout the majority of the first half. On their first 15 plays of the game, Rodgers dropped back to pass 10 times, generating an average depth of target of 4.4 yards and an average time to throw of 1.75 seconds. For perspective, that was over half a second quicker than any other quarterback on Sunday on those "scripted" plays.

[…]

Minnesota wanted to establish the run right out of the gate, calling a run play on six of [its] eight plays in the first quarter. It wasn't until essentially garbage time in the fourth quarter that we actually saw Kirk Cousins do something for Minnesota's passing attack. Through the first three quarters of action, Cousins took 16 dropbacks; he was sacked on two, scrambled on three and completed just two passes over 10 yards downfield.

Treash took a look at Vikings rookie cornerback Cam Dantzler, whom Minnesota drafted in the third round.

Dantzler was the talk of training camp, pegged as a guy set to surprise this year, but he got worked by [Davante] Adams and [Marquez] Valdes-Scantling. On his 30 coverage snaps at outside corner — he played 82 [percent] of the team's snaps altogether — Dantzler was targeted six times and allowed all to be caught for 78 yards and a score. He did have three passing stops, though, so it could have been worse.

[…]

Remember that it is Week 1 and that these guys had a limited offseason program and no preseason action, so patience is key.

Justin Jefferson tops Vikings rookie debuts, says ESPN

It can be tough to find a bright spot after a difficult loss to a division rival, but there were positives to be found from Sunday's game.

ESPN's Courtney Cronin pointed out that first-round draft pick Justin Jefferson, despite a limited showing, flashed potential for what could be tapped into. In a roundtable that asked ESPN beat reporters to tab their team's top rookie debut, Cronin spotlighted Jefferson. She wrote:

The Vikings didn't get a ton of contributions from their rookie class in Week 1. Third-round cornerback Cameron Dantzler played the most of any rookie, but his outing was marred by giving up a 45-yard touchdown pass. Jefferson is the easiest answer, as he had two catches for 36 yards and was on the field for 36 of 52 plays. Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak hinted last week at easing Jefferson into a significant role with time. What the rookie wideout did in his debut, including a 17-yard grab in the fourth quarter, is indicative of more to come.

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