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Washington Commanders vs. Indianapolis Colts Preview: 3 Matchups to Watch

The two teams that made some splashes at Quarterback won’t have their starting signal callers for this one.

Indianapolis Colts v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

This Week 8 battle between the Washington Commanders and the Indianapolis Colts may have always been circled on every fan’s calendar, but as we enter this Sunday’s contest, the reasons why this game was highly touted have changed drastically.

With that said, there are still major headlines entering this game, but it primarily involves stuff off the field. In typical Commanders' fashion, there are things going on at the top that have caused headaches for all that have an interest in the team, but now, the Colts owner seems to have been fed up with the circus.

Jim Irsay has gone on record saying that Dan can investigate him “until the cows come home,” and with Snyder’s Commanders’ sputtering at 3-4, this game has a little extra spice added to it.

Initially, this game was supposed to be headlined by Quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Carson Wentz. Both Irsay and Head Coach Frank Reich talked about the “mistake” Wentz was, hitching their wagon to what remained of Matt Ryan though, obviously hasn’t worked out either.

Both teams have a lot riding on this game, with both organizations being linked to one another for negative reasons, Sunday afternoon’s contest has a lot more riding on it than you would expect from non-conference opponents. You can check out the current odds for this one courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Matchup #1: Sam Ehlinger vs. The Commanders Defense

Making his first career start for the Colts, former Longhorn Sam Ehlinger will have the task of beating the hellacious front four from the DMV. At UT, Ehlinger was a force out of the play-action as a dual-threat Quarterback.

In his senior season at Texas, Ehlinger threw 5 touchdown passes and 0 interceptions off of PA fakes, but also, he was no stranger to pushing the ball down the field. The Austin native threw 14 touchdowns from 10-20+ yards for the Horns in 2020, and certainly, Frank Reich may want to dial up the deep shots against a questionable Commanders secondary.

Yet, he’s been best with his legs on tape. From four-touchdown performances on the ground against Oklahoma a few years ago, to even three carries last year for the Colts, clearly, Indy knows he’s comfortable as a runner.

This is significant because Washington has had issues with mobile Quarterbacks throughout Jack Del Rio’s tenure, and they’ll have yet another one on their hands as they enter Sunday afternoon. Should Washington walk out victorious, they must stop Sam Ehlinger’s dual-threat ability, especially on the ground.

Matchup #2: Taylor Heinicke vs. Himself

Last week, we saw the good, the bad, and the ugly from Taylor Heinicke and company as he put together one of the worst first halves of QB play that we’ve ever seen. Five turnover-worthy plays, a pick-six, and awfully timed footballs later, the Commanders looked dead in the water prior to halftime.

That said, he put together a gutsy second-half performance and somehow willed the Commanders to victory against a rollercoaster ride of a Packers team.

Luckily for Heinicke, the Colts' defense has ranked 28th in dropback success rate and 21st in dropback EPA, so this matchup should be one where Taylor can hit the ground running. The Colts have a plethora of questions, particularly on the back end, and McLaurin is due for yet another big-time game with Curtis Samuel, Antonio Gibson, and the other variety of weapons around him to give defenses headaches.

I don’t believe Washington can actually overcome another putrid first-half performance from Taylor. Though I believe that won’t be a thought, as Scott Turner and Heinicke now have nearly three weeks together in preparation, so the Commanders' offense should have plenty of play-calls in their bag to give a struggling Colts defense even more issues.

Matchup #3: Dan Snyder vs. Jim Irsay

This matchup really doesn’t have much bearing on the outcome of this game, but it is certainly a storyline heading into the contest. We mentioned earlier how Irsay and Snyder have went back-and-forth here, but now with their teams going head to head and Dan Snyder having gone to “every game”, I don't believe we’ll see many pre-game photos of both owners together.

Dan Snyder likely feels some pressure from owners and fans calling for him to sell the team, if frequent reports of Snyder having “dirt on the owners" doesn’t tell you that. With Irsay seeming to be on the frontlines of the Snyder removal publicly, it makes sense why this matchup could potentially pour salt into the wound here for whichever team loses.

We don’t know what will happen to Dan Snyder as the owner of the Washington Commanders, and we also don’t know who will win this game, but I bet whoever will laugh last will laugh best among these two owners, and hopefully, we can get a shot of those two going at it in the press box somewhere.