With the 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule releasing on Thursday, what are some realistic expectations for the Commanders this year?
Christmas in May? Christmas in May. Ladies and Gentlemen, we are that much closer to the NFL being back in our lives, with the announcement of the 2022 NFL regular season schedule dropping Thursday night.
The Washington Commanders find themselves winning on paper when it comes to their 2022 outlook, playing one of the easiest regular-season schedules heading into early September. Does that mean they’ll win 15 games? No, not at all.
It does, however, show us that the killer lineup of quarterbacks that Washington faced last season likely will not be the case this year and that the Commanders will actually have a strong chance to play competitive football heading into December.
There are many games that stick out when looking at the schedule for Washington, from Carson Wentz’s return to Indianapolis on October 30th, Happy Halloween in advance, to his return to Philidelphia on Monday Night Football come November 14th. In addition, Washington has a three-game stretch near the middle of their season from weeks 11-13 where they’ll take on teams that’ll fight for a top 10 pick for the bulk of their season.
Nonetheless, it’s time to make a prediction on how your Washington Commanders will do in 2022. A new quarterback, a new name, new jerseys, hopefully, 2022 marks the start of something new as it pertains to the on-field product as well.
Week 1 vs. Jacksonville
The Commanders host a Jaguars team that is improving defensively, and had found an actual NFL-caliber Head Coach. Washington will ultimately win a close battle on opening Sunday. Expect a messy first half for both teams, with Washington squeaking by with the victory.
Week 2 at Detroit
The Lions are also an improved unit heading into 2022, with a sensational draft class to backup a few veteran additions they grabbed during the offseason. Yet, the Commanders should have an interesting first three quarters with a grind-it-out Lions squad before the better team, Washington ultimately brings home the win.
Week 3 vs. Philadelphia
Washington’s defensive line had big problems with staying disciplined as pass-rushers last season, which ultimately set the tone for the entirety of their 2021 campaign and mobile quarterbacks took advantage early and often. I think Jalen Hurts, an improved Eagles supporting cast, and their gnarly defensive line will give Washington a few fits and win a tight ballgame at FedEx.
Week 4 at Dallas
Another division game, this time against last year’s NFC East winners. The Cowboys have the best Quarterback in the division, and defensively, despite turnovers not typically translating year-to-year in the NFL, Dallas will still have a strong defense. I think the Cowboys snipe this game away from Washington on their own turf. Prescott is one of the best 2nd-level throwers in the NFL, and will likely torch the Commanders’ intermediate defenders on that afternoon.
Week 5 vs Tennessee
Remember what I just said about mobile quarterbacks? Well, here’s the 2nd game out of three where Washington’s front 7 will have their hands full. From Derrick Henry’s insane workload despite seeing 8 or more in the box on nearly 40% of his carries, in addition to Ryan Tannehill being no stranger to using his legs, the Commanders will ride their highly-touted defensive line to a victory against a potent rushing offense.
Week 6 at Chicago TNF
The Bears, poor Justin Fields. Chicago hasn’t done a good job of building around Fields to start his young career. They truly do not have an identity at this stage outside of the Ohio State alum under center, and they’re a bit of a mess. The Commanders, riding a short week, should get the job done on the road against an inferior opponent.
Week 7 vs. Green Bay
Washington stays in the NFC North and takes on a Green Bay team that has had a bit of a makeover in 2022. Losing Davante Adams and Za’Darius Smith isn’t fun, but the Packers still have one of the greatest QBs of all time under center. I think this is a very good ballgame, low-scoring, but I think the Packers walk-off with a W, led by Aaron Rodgers.
Week 8 at Indianapolis
Chris Ballard hasn’t stopped talking about Carson Wentz. The Washington Commanders have had this game circled for weeks now. Motivations will be high, Wentz’s return to Indy, facing a team in the Colts that had a porous 2nd half defense last year and a QB that’s as mobile as you and I, I’m sorry, this matchup favors Washington both physically and mentally.
Week 9 vs. Minnesota
Kirk Cousins comes back to FedEx Field for the first time in his career. In what should be a very good contest, I think the Vikings are yet again in the middle of the playoff hunt this season and will ultimately beat the Commanders. It’ll be a tight ballgame, one where Washington’s plethora of defensive backs will have their hands full with the Vikings’ multitude of quality receiving options.
Week 10 at Philadelphia MNF
The biggest game of the season for Carson Wentz personally has to be his return to Philadelphia on Monday Night Football. The Commanders split with the Eagles in 2022, fixing their woes from their previous matchup as they wrap up Jalen Hurts and the Eagles wideouts, en route to their walk out of Cheesesteak County with a victory.
Week 11 at Houston
Derek Stingley Jr. will be an All-Pro. Unfortunately, he doesn’t play quarterback. Commanders should be resting their starters heading into the 4th Quarter. I’d look for big days from Antonio Gibson against an atrocious run defense.
Week 12 vs. Atlanta
Another game that’s extremely winnable for the Commanders. The Falcons are a mess. Drake London and Desmond Ridder will be fun to watch in this game, but they aren’t enough to beat Washington.
Week 13 at N.Y. Giants
No matter the circumstance, Daniel Jones and the New York Giants seem to give Washington fits. I think the Commanders split with the Giants this year, New York should be a much-improved unit in the trenches this season and ultimately they’ll count on the big men on both sides of the ball to catapult them into victory.
Week 14 BYE
The late bye could play out in one of two ways: Either it comes at the right time for Washington, needing a late-season cool down before heading into four games that could decide their 2022 season, or it could be the worst possible bye week that seemingly came all too late where injuries and team chemistry has seemingly done away with this group.
Week 15 vs. N.Y. Giants
Here’s the split. Washington defeats the Giants at home, again, fixing their woes from their previous matchup, making the adjustments necessary, winning in the trenches and riding a big day from Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson Jr to paydirt.
Week 16 at San Francisco
We would all love to see Trey Lance in this game. I think Jimmy Garoppolo is still a 49er this season, and Kyle Shanahan’s beautiful play-calling will be on display. This will be a battle between two different coaching philosophies on Christmas Eve. Seriously, Shanahan’s offensive wizardry is so much fun to watch and his style is so much so the opposite of Ron Rivera’s. I think they’ll skim past Washington in a tough battle that will be won on the ground.
Week 17 vs. Cleveland
Deshaun Watson’s arrival turns a fringe-playoff team in the Cleveland Browns into a Super Bowl Contender. This will be the toughest game of the season for Washington, with both teams likely to be playing for playoff implications on New Years’ Day. The Browns win, but this experience sets the tone for the biggest game of the season.
Week 18 vs. Dallas
The Commanders’ final game of the season comes down to a battle between themselves and the Dallas Cowboys. Oh, how sweet this could be. I’m sure Roger Goddell and company are salivating at the potential division-crown implications from this one. I do believe one of the Eagles, Commanders or Cowboys will win the division, but week 18’s matchup goes to the Burgundy and Gold, where Carson Wentz’s first season in the DMV goes for ten wins and a playoff berth.
- The Commanders end up with a record of 10-7 this season, that’s at least what i’m anticipating based on a few factors:
- Carson Wentz gives you baseline production of his 2021 season AND stays healthy for all 17 games.
- The Commanders deal with few injuries to key starters like Terry McLaurin, Chase Young, Kam Curl, the aforementioned Wentz, etc.
- Washington’s defense performs at a league-average level in terms of dropback EPA, run-stop/pass-rush win rate, rush EPA, turnovers created, etc. In other words, Washington has at least an average, by NFL standards, defense.
- One member on each side of the football takes a leap in production and/or development. Whether that’s Jamin Davis, William Jackson III, Curtis Samuel, John Bates, Dyami Brown, someone must take a step forward in either development as a young player, or overall production as an older player.
- With that said, I believe the Commanders can win ten games against the 32nd ranked schedule in the league. Considering this ballclub just won 7 games last year against a brutal row of Quarterback’s, while being led by a backup QB that shrunk your playbook significantly, now with better Quarterback play on the horizon with the addition of Carson Wentz, Washington should be a much-improved team offensively by that alone.
- Defensively, the Commanders enter a new season with a new identity from their personnel. Cole Holcomb will be their MIKE, Jamin Davis, like everyone should’ve expected, will be your WILL/Outside Linebacker, and Kam Curl will likely take his spot back at their “Buffalo Nickle” position. With William Jackson III gaining familiarity in Rivera and Del Rio’s scheme, Chase Young and Montez Sweat coming back from injury, and Benjamin St-Juste also carving out a role for himself, the Washington Commanders’ defense has all the makings of at least a league-average defense in 2022.
- I believe Washington at least makes the playoffs in 2022. The combination of a lighter schedule, improved QB play, an improved defensive unit and a plethora of key contributors coming back from injury, the Burgundy and Gold should play at least one extra game in January before it’s all said and done on their 2022 season.