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Veteran quarterbacks. Elite running backs. Talented defensive lines. New head coaches. The Colts and Vikings share all of these things. What they don't share, however, is an overall trajectory. Indianapolis is barely clinging to playoff life at 4-8-1, with interim Jeff Saturday captaining a ship ripe for yet another reset under center. Minnesota, meanwhile, is fresh off a stinging defeat to the rival Lions but has an NFC North title still within reach, not to mention possible home-field advantage to start the postseason.

After failing to clinch the division against Detroit, the Vikings will return home for Week 15's matchup, and a win against the Colts would give them what they missed out on last Sunday. The NFC's No. 1 seed may well be out of reach now that the Eagles are 12-1, but Kevin O'Connell's squad is getting peak performance from Kirk Cousins and his top target, Justin Jefferson, entering the final four-game stretch of the season. Do the Colts have what it takes to pull off an upset, potentially delaying the Vikings' NFC North supremacy once again? Or is this a decidedly get-right spot for the home team?

Either way, it should be a good one. Here's everything you need to know:

How to watch

Date: Saturday, Dec. 17 | Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: U.S. Bank Stadium (Minneapolis)
TV: NFL Network | Stream: NFL+
Follow: CBS Sports App   
Odds: Vikings -4, O/U 47.5

Featured Game | Minnesota Vikings vs. Indianapolis Colts

When the Colts have the ball

Throw, throw, throw. That should be the game plan for Saturday and Co. Not because Matt Ryan has been afforded premium protection or slung the ball so well to demand it, but because literally no team is giving up more through the air than the Vikings. Often content to sit back and play it safe under coordinator Ed Donatell, Minnesota is surrendering an average of almost 290 passing yards per game. Worse yet, they're banged up on the back end, with both Cameron Dantzler and Harrison Smith nursing injuries. Ryan may be on the fast track to retirement, but he's topped 350 passing yards three times this year, and his trio of top targets -- Michael Pittman Jr., Alec Pierce, Parris Campbell -- are all capable of making plays downfield.

Michael Pittman
IND • WR • #11
REC YDs755
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The workhorse that he is, Jonathan Taylor will -- and should -- maintain a big role for the Colts offense. But everything the Vikings are doing on "D" -- or, more precisely, what they're not doing -- suggests Indy should attack them vertically, early and often. Minnesota also hasn't been particularly nasty off the edges, ranking 17th with 30 sacks on the year, so Ryan may have enough time to let Pittman and Co. win deep. If not, Campbell is well-equipped for short-area targets that lean on his speed after the catch.

And here's the kicker: if the passing lanes are there and Ryan, 37, proves off the mark, perhaps gifting the Vikings a turnover, the Colts should be prepared to thrust Nick Foles into the lineup. Already we've seen Indy willing to shuffle and reshuffle the QB spot this year, but Foles is the only arm in their stable yet to see significant run. He also has a knack for chucking it deep, which might be exactly what this game requires. (And that's saying nothing of his history against the Vikings, who were on the wrong end of his aerial assault with the Eagles years ago.) You have to push the ball against Minnesota, regardless of who starts under center.

When the Vikings have the ball

O'Connell should be doing the polar opposite of what the Colts should be doing. In other words, keep the rock on the ground. The one thing, besides defense, that's really flopped for Minnesota as of late is the run game. Why lean on it here, then? Firstly, because the line should be reinforced with both Christian Darrisaw and Garrett Bradbury set to resume their starting spots after injury. Secondly, because while the Colts boast a top-10 defense, they've proven quite vulnerable against the run, ranking 21st in that category. Limited to 16 touches against Detroit, Dalvin Cook should be primed for a breakout on home turf.

Dalvin Cook
NYJ • RB • #33
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Indy has a tough "D," which has enabled the team to stay competitive despite a battered, sinking offense, but without Shaquille Leonard patrolling the middle, the Colts are giving up more than 126 rushing yards per game, which is even worse than the Vikings. In their last three outings, they've surrendered 160+ and three scores to the Cowboys combo of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, 150+ and two scores to a Steelers quartet, and 130+ and one TD to the Eagles' Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders.

Feeding Cook should also help the Vikings maintain production through the air. Cousins has topped 35 passes in each of his last three starts; going into this Saturday matchup, with one less day of rest, O'Connell could stand to scale his workload back in an effort to be more balanced and efficient. Put it this way: if the ground game is reestablished, the threat of Cousins using his signature play-action to find Jefferson in key spots will only intensify. The Colts are stingy in the secondary, ranking eighth against the pass, but it's a lot easier to score on them if you're wearing them down up front and on the ground.

Prediction: Vikings 26, Colts 22