Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- Both teams have moved to new starting quarterbacks within the last week.
- The Colts offense should have a completely different look with Sam Ehlinger under center than they did with the immobile Matt Ryan.
- The pace of play is likely to be very slow, with the Colts keeping things manageable for Ehlinger while the Commanders rank 31st in the league in pace of play.
- The Commanders pass defense is clearly the “weakest” defensive unit to attack in this game so it will be interesting if Ehlinger can exploit it.
How Washington Will Try To Win ::
Taylor Heinicke’s return to the starting QB job in Washington was a triumphant one, with a 23-21 home victory over the Packers. The Commanders won and Heinicke made some nice plays to take the lead and ice the game, but also made some big errors including a first half pick-six and another sack/fumble that the Packers returned for a touchdown but was called back due to an extremely questionable defensive holding penalty that had no impact on the play. The Colts defense has been very solid this season and ranks 11th in the NFL in DVOA making this a very tough matchup for an offense that ranks 30th in the league in yards per play, which is one of the most predictive stats we have for offensive success/efficiency.
The Commanders rank second to last in tempo during neutral game scripts, showing a clear reluctance to turn up the pace. This should not be surprising with “old school” head coach Ron Rivera wanting to win ugly games and rely on his defense to keep things manageable. With Indianapolis breaking in a new quarterback, we should expect more of the same from Washington as they want to keep things close or build a lead slowly and force Ehlinger to play in a tight game or from behind. Washington also pivoted to a very run-heavy approach last week, running the ball on 53% of their offensive plays, a rate that would be second highest in the NFL over the course of this season. Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson each played a lot and were even on the field together at times, with Gibson catching a touchdown after being split out at wide receiver in the formation. We should expect a similar approach this week with a methodical, run-heavy game plan although the Colts run defense has been very good this season, which should force Heinicke into some tough 3rd down situations. Terry McLaurin had perhaps his best game of the season and returned to a 25% target share, which he had last year as well with Heinicke under center, after seeing only 16% of the targets from Carson Wentz.