Commanders Can, Commander Will: Postseason Push
The momentum is real as the Commanders have a real chance at making the playoffs and surprising a lot of people. The Washington Commanders currently are 7-5-1 and are third place in the NFC East. They are the sixth seed in the NFC playoffs, as the Seahawks and Giants just lost. The Commanders had a bye this week and face the Giants again next week. The remaining games on their schedule are not ideal, as they play the 49ers, Browns, and then Cowboys to end the season. The 49ers and Cowboys are both teams who are over .500 and currently dominating the league, while the Browns just got back their franchise Quarterback in Deshaun Watson. This, therefore, means the Commanders have a challenging four games left.
The first game back after the bye is the New York Giants, who the Commanders recently tied 20-20 on December 4th. The Giants just lost 48-22 to the Philadelphia Eagles, getting utterly destroyed. Washington will need to take advantage of the Giants low morale and come out fast. The Eagles won the Giants game purely based on their dominant run game. They had 253 rushing yards to 217 passing yards. If the Commanders want to play to their strengths, they will need to rely on Brain Robinson and Antonio Gibson. Defensively, the biggest problem the Commanders had against the Giants two weeks ago was containing Daniel Jones. The Eagles held him to 26 rushing yards, while he had 71 against D.C., constantly getting the Giants 3rd down conversions.
The San Francisco 49ers are absolutely walking all over the NFL right now, boasting a high-powered offense combined with the best defense in the league. They are third in point differential, standing at +9. However, over the last three games, the point differential for San Francisco is 19 points. The last time this team lost was in October, which was to the Chiefs, one of the best teams in the league. To win this game against the 49ers, the Commanders will have to have the same mindset they had against the Eagles: complete underdogs who need to make big plays to compete. Washington will need to focus on making rookie QB Brock Purdy uncomfortable in the pocket by constantly pressuring him. The 49ers have no real weak spots, so there is little room for error. Especially since the playoff race is this tight at this point in the season, this is one of the most important games of the season.
In week 17, the Commanders go head to head with Deshaun Watson and the Cleveland Browns at FedEx Field. This is most likely a must-win for Washington, as the Seahawks and Giants are neck and neck with the Commanders in terms of their records. This is one of the easier games to end the season for the Commanders as the Browns have struggled to find their footing since Deshaun Watson’s return. In the two games Watson has played this season for the Browns, they have only managed one offensive touchdown. With Washington’s stout run defense, forcing Deshaun Watson to pass is vital to winning this game.
To end the season, the Washington Commanders take on the Dallas Cowboys at home for all the marbles. The last time these two teams met was October 2nd, where the Cowboys dismantled Washington 25-10. To make matters worse, this loss was suffered against the Cowboys backup QB, Cooper Rush, as nothing went right for Washington in this game. Carson Wentz threw two interceptions, and Terry Mclaurin was made a non-factor, only having two catches for 15 yards despite being targeted six times. The rushing game never got going either, as Antonio Gibson was held to 49 yards and Brian Robinson was still recovering from his gunshot wounds. The defense only amassed one sack and forced zero turnovers. However, Washington is a different team from the last time they played the Cowboys. The defense has been dominant, not allowing over 21 points since that loss to Dallas. The rushing game has been thriving and so has Taylor Heinicke, as his record as a starter is now 5-1-1. The key for the Washington Commanders is consistency, winning games nobody expects them to win, no matter the odds.