After a tough road loss against their AFC South rivals, the Tennessee Titans, last Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts return home for the NFL’s Week 8. The Colts are looking to rebound with a solid performance against the visiting Washington Commanders.
Indianapolis will be searching for its fifth win in a row against Washington. As a franchise, the Commanders haven’t won a game against the Colts since 2002 when they squeaked out a five-point win at FedEx Field. If there was ever a time to beat Indianapolis, however, it would be right now. The visitors overwhelmed Aaron Rodgers and the Packers over the weekend, so they have the momentum whereas their hosts have just been defeated by a division rival.
While both teams come into this matchup with similar records — Commanders (3-4), Colts (3-3-1) — Washington comes into Lucas Oil Stadium as a field goal underdog at Caesars Sportsbook. Oddsmakers currently favor the Colts by 3 points and have set Sunday’s over/under total at 39.5.
Let’s take a closer look at the odds and trends:
Washington Commanders at Indianapolis Colts
Time/TV: 4:25 p.m. Sunday, FOX
Point spread (from Caesars Sportsbook): Colts -3
Money line: Colts -150, Commanders +126
Analysis: This game has been circled on people’s calendars all season long. It was supposed to be the return of Carson Wentz to Indianapolis where he spent the entirety of last season. However, Wentz has been sidelined due to injury and Washington now turns to backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke.
The Commanders won’t be the only ones with a second-string signal caller taking snaps. Throw everything you thought you knew about this game out of the window. Former Atlanta Falcons gunslinger Matt Ryan has been benched by Frank Reich and the Colts. Now, it’s up to the University of Texas alumni, Sam Ehlinger, to lead Indianapolis forward.
The 24-year-old will be playing a meaningful NFL game for the first time on Sunday. Luckily for his sake, this isn’t a daunting debut task. Washington is a ‘middle of the road’ defense all things considered. The Commanders rank 17th overall in passing yards allowed per game (217.6).
The Colts are one of the only five teams to have thrown for over 2,000 yards this season, does that success through the air get thrown out the window with Ehlinger under center? If Indianapolis has to run the rock, it’s not the end of the world considering the back who’ll be getting most of the carries.
Jonathan Taylor looked to be back to his normal self against Tennessee — averaging 5.8 yards per carry — but he only got 10 touches. The Colts have the weapons on offense to cut through Washington’s defense like a knife through hot butter, they must hold onto the football though.
On the other hand, the Commanders should have more success on the ground against the No. 23-rated rush defense in the league. Brian Robinson Jr. has grown into his role more in the last couple of weeks against a pair of teams who struggle to defend the run.
Heinicke will have an easier time throwing the ball against Indianapolis than he did Green Bay. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be smart for Ron Rivera to task his backup quarterback with being the offense’s leading playmaker.
Everything about this contest is difficult to predict. Both are middle-of-the-pack NFL teams through seven games. The Colts and Commanders are both 3-4 ATS this season, which stacks up with their real records, as well. Perfectly mediocre describes the pair’s seasons thus far, and factoring backup quarterbacks into the mix further clouds the picture. Indianapolis is at home and Reich will be coaching for his job, so give me the Colts in a close one.
Prediction: Colts 20, Commanders 16