Colts vs Commanders Odds, Picks, Prediction | NFL Week 8
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Picutred: Sam Ehlinger.
- Sam Ehlinger makes his first NFL start today as a home favorite in Commanders vs Colts.
- Taylor Heinicke leads Washington, which beat the Packers last week.
- Ricky Henne previews the game and makes his pick below.
Colts vs Commanders Odds
-115o / -105u
-115o / -105u
It’s the vaunted Sam Ehlinger vs. Taylor Heinicke quarterback showdown that we’ve all been craving!
Colts head coach Frank Reich announced that Ehlinger, a former sixth-round pick who has never attempted a pass in the NFL, will replace Matt Ryan and start Sunday against the Commanders.
Does the fact that the Colts are favored with a quarterback who began the year third on the depth chart say more about Ryan or the Commanders?
The answer is probably both.
Let’s take a closer look at this matchup of three-win teams and see how things will play out.
Commanders vs. Colts Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how the Commanders and Colts match up statistically:
Commanders vs. Colts DVOA Breakdown
A replacement-level performance from Ehlinger would be a marked improvement over Ryan, who has been an unmitigated disaster for the Colts, ranking 32nd among qualifying quarterbacks in DVOA (-20.5%), according to Football Outsiders. The offense struggled as a whole under Ryan and ranks dead last in overall DVOA (-28.8%) and 30th in passing (-20.2%).
Preseason performances must be taken with a major grain of salt, but Ehlinger did turn heads over the summer as he completed 83% of his passes (24-of-29) for 289 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also made plays with his legs and carried the ball six times for 71 yards (14.2 yards per rush), including a 45-yard touchdown run.
Ehlinger’s ability to extend plays is far different from the cement-footed Ryan, which should help mitigate a porous offensive line that’s given up the third most sacks in the NFL (24). With time to throw, Ehlinger should have opportunities to put up points against a Washington defense allowing the second most touchdowns through the air (14).
Commanders +3 | Colts -3
Still, it’s not like the passing game has been the Colts’ only problem. They can’t run the ball either.
Indianapolis ranks 29th in yards per carry and 30th in total rushing yards. That’s mind-boggling considering they ranked second in both categories a year ago. Jonathan Taylor is averaging a pedestrian 4.2 yards per carry, which is a far cry from last year when he averaged 5.5.
It won’t be easy for the Colts to get their ground game going against a Washington defense that boasts the fourth-best DVOA against the run (-18.6%). In fact, the Commanders just held the Packers to a measly 38 yards rushing.
While Indianapolis has struggled pounding the rock, it’s been the opposite for the Commanders. Washington's ground game has been rolling since Brian Robinson made his NFL debut earlier this month. They still rank a putrid 29th in rushing DVOA (-20.4%), but Robinson and Antonio Gibson have guided Washington to back-to-back wins. Robinson had 20 carries for 73 yards and Gibson ran the ball 10 times for 59 yards to power the Commanders’ offense a week ago. However, that came against a Green Bay defense that’s second worst in rushing DVOA (10.9%). Meanwhile, Indianapolis ranks eighth (-13.9%).
That’ll put extra pressure on Heinicke to deliver against a defense coordinated by Gus Bradley. Heinicke enjoyed modest success against Bradley last year, leading Washington to a 17-15 win over Las Vegas. Heinicke posted a 101.5 passer rating that day and completed 23-of-30 passes for 196 yards, two touchdowns and one pick.
The Commanders might have the momentum as they look for their third win in a row, but they haven’t exactly been world beaters. Their three wins this season are against the Jaguars, Bears and Packers — teams with a combined 9-14 record.
Indianapolis is the more desperate team and the switch to Ehlinger should create the spark the Colts are seeking. Again, a near-replacement level performance from him would be a drastic improvement over what Indianapolis has received from Ryan. Throw in the fact that they might be playing for Reich’s job and you should see a Colts team with more juice than they’ve shown all year.
It’s also worth noting that the under has hit six times for the Colts and four times for the Commanders this season. Points should come at a premium and this game looks to be a grind with both teams focused on running the ball. That makes an under hovering around 39.5 particularly juicy.
As far as the end result goes, Indianapolis is 0-3 at home against the spread, but they’re also the more talented, desperate team. That should be enough to comfortably cover by more than a field goal.