Washington played its second and final season under the Football Team moniker with the franchise rebranding themselves as the Commanders this off-season. Washington became the first team in NFL history to have a minority head coach (Ron Rivera), general manager (Martin Mayhew), and president (Jason Wright) at the same time. The Commanders otherwise had a 2021 to forget after sneaking into the playoffs with a losing record (7-9) as the NFC East champions in 2020. Washington missed the playoffs for the fifth time in the last six seasons and they finished with a losing record for a fifth consecutive season. The season got off on the wrong foot when they lost their new quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to a dislocated hip just 16 snaps into the campaign. Washington’s injury issues continued with big free-agent signee Curtis Samuel catching just six passes for 27 yards on 84 snaps because of a lingering groin injury. Antonio Gibson stagnated from his first to his second season because of a stress fracture in his shin, and Logan Thomas played in just six games before his season was ended by a torn ACL in Week 13.
The Commanders also lost the face of their franchise, Chase Young, to a torn ACL in Week 10, which ended his disappointing sophomore season with just 1.5 sacks through nine games. Young’s struggles reflected the overall issues Washington had maintaining its defensive performance from 2020 when they allowed the fourth-fewest points per game (20.6), the second-fewest passing yards (3068), and the second-fewest passing TDs (21). Washington plummeted down the rankings last season, allowing the eighth-most points per game (25.5), the fourth-most passing yards (4333), and the most passing touchdowns (34). Washington still won the same number of games from 2020 but they couldn’t stay at the top of the division with the Cowboys and Eagles improving from the year before.
2021 By the Numbers
Record (ATS): 7-10 (7-9-1)
Season Win Total: 8.5 (under)
One-possession Record: 5-4
Missed Playoff Odds: -175
Over/Under record: 7-10
PPG: 19.7 (t23rd)
PPG Allowed: 25.5 (25th)
Point Differential: -99 (25th)
|6||@Chicago Bears||PK||8:15 (Thurs)|
|7||Green Bay Packers||+3||1|
|10||@Philadelphia Eagles||+3.5||8:15 (Mon)|
|13||@New York Giants||PK||1|
|15||New York Giants||-3.5||TBA|
|16||@San Francisco 49ers||+6||4:05 (Sat)|
The Commanders have the sixth-easiest schedule based on opponent win totals (per Sharp Football).
The Commanders will travel the eighth-fewest miles (13,670) and they’ll cross 12 time zones this season (per Bookies.com).
Washington doesn’t face a single opponent coming off a bye.
The Commanders have an extra home game.
Washington has only two primetime games and they’re both on the road against the Bears (W6) and Eagles (W10).
- The Commanders are one of six teams to have 3+ short-rest road games. They take on the Bears on TNF in Week 6, the Texans in Week 11 after playing the Eagles on MNF a week earlier, and the 49ers on Saturday in Week 16.
Key Off-season Moves
|QB Carson Wentz||WR Jahan Dotson||OG Brandon Scherff (Jax)|
|OG Andrew Norwell||DT Phidarian Mathis||TE Ricky Seals-Jones (NYG)|
|OG Trai Turner||RB Brian Robinson||TE Jeremy Sprinkle (Dal)|
|WR Alex Erickson||S Percy Butler||DT Matt Ioannidis (Car)|
|QB Sam Howell||DT Tim Settle (Buf)|
|OG Ereck Flowers|
|S Landon Collins|
|QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (retired)|
2022 Season Odds
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
|Season Win Total (O/U)||8 (-110/-110)|
Season Prop Movement
Win Total: 7.5 (+100) in late March to 8 (-110) in late June
Super Bowl: +3300 in mid-February to +8000 in late June
Reasons to Bet Over the Season Win Total
The Commanders have one of the easiest starts to the season with a home date against the Jaguars and a road trip to Detroit before two pivotal matchups against the Eagles and Cowboys in Weeks 3-4. Washington couldn’t ask for a softer landing spot as they break in their new quarterback Carson Wentz, as long as he isn’t seeing Jacksonville ghosts from his disastrous final performance with the Colts. Wentz projects to be an upgrade over Taylor Heinicke and Washington’s quarterback situation from last season, but how much of an upgrade will likely decide Washington’s win total fate. Wentz’s final numbers with the Colts are strong overall with 27 TDs (5.2% rate) and seven INTs (1.4% rate), but they don’t align with his actual play, especially late in the season.
He’ll at least have an improved receiving corps at his disposal moving from Indy to Washington. The group has the potential to be the best group he’s worked with in his career if Curtis Samuel and Logan Thomas can return to full health. Terry McLaurin hasn’t quite hit his ceiling because of sub-par quarterback play through three seasons, and the Commanders selected the dynamic Jahan Dotson in the first round, whom our Greg Cosell compared to Diontae Johnson in the pre-Draft process. Washington also has a potentially strong trio at running back after selecting power back Brian Robinson to play alongside Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic. Washington will need their defensive line to get back to their dominant ways from 2020, and getting Chase Young (ACL) healthy next to Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen, and Daron Payne will give them a chance to do so.
Reasons to Bet Under the Season Win Total
Wentz will likely be an upgrade over Washington’s quarterback situation from last season, but he’s still one of the league’s shakier starting options. The Commanders missed out on a big-time quarterback in the 2021 off-season, and they over-reacted to last year’s mistake by being uber-aggressive for a quarterback this off-season. They would’ve been much better served to let the quarterback dominoes fall to them, but they instead panicked and traded for Wentz shortly after Aaron Rodgers announced he was staying in Green Bay and after the Broncos acquired Russell Wilson.
Wentz’s last two teams couldn’t wait to get rid of him the last two years, and it’s looking more unlikely that he’ll reach his 2017 All-Pro status with every passing season. Wentz-led teams have failed to hit the over in four consecutive seasons (0-3-1). He did everything in his power to make sure the Colts pushed their nine-win total with dismal performances in his final two games with Indy. The Commanders have also struggled to surpass expectations in recent seasons, beating their season win total just once over the last five years (1-3-1) when they won the NFC East with a seven-win campaign in 2020.
It’s tough to argue that this roster is in better shape than they were a year ago, and they lost one of the faces of the franchise with Brandon Scherff bolting for a big paycheck in Jacksonville. Washington is essentially running it back with last year’s secondary that allowed the most passing touchdowns (34) and the fourth-most passing yards per game (254.9). The Commanders also didn’t get any breaks from the NFL with the latest possible bye in Week 14. Washington could be running on fumes by the time they get to the easiest stretch in their schedule with matchups against the Texans, Falcons, and Giants in Weeks 11-13. The Commanders’ hopes for besting their win total will hinge on at least a 2-1 mark in that easy three-game span.
Notable Player Props
Unfortunately, sportsbooks have yet to release most player totals, but we’ll work with what we’ve got.
Jahan Dotson: receiving yards (611.5), OROY (+2500)
Fantasy Points Projection — receiving yards (800), passing TDs (4)
Best-Case Scenario: Dotson steps into the #2 receiver spot and he makes his presence felt immediately after averaging 6.8 catches and 98.4 receiving yards per game in his final 21 contests at Penn State.
Worst-Case Scenario: Dotson is hamstrung by poor quarterback play once again with Carson Wentz, who averaged just 6.5 YPA and 213.2 passing yards per game over the last two seasons between the Colts and Eagles.
Antonio Gibson: rushing yards (974.5), most rushing yards (+1600), OPOY (+6000)
Fantasy Points Projection — rushing yards (940)
- Best-Case Scenario: Gibson remains the undisputed lead back and he maintains his 16.1 carries per game average while moving past his shin injury and his fumbling issues from last season.
- Worst-Case Scenario: Tthird-round pick Brian Robinson turns this backfield into a three-man attack, and Gibson is back to averaging 12.1 carries per game from his rookie campaign in 2020.
Best Bets and Leans
Jahan Dotson (Was) over 611.5 receiving yards (-115, DraftKings, placed June 22). Risk 1.15 units to win one unit.
- The Commanders clearly love Dotson by selecting him 16th overall, well before he was expected to be drafted. I hate to put too much weight on OTAs but, from all accounts, Dotson was the star of Commanders’ OTAs and Carson Wentz’s clear favorite target. Terry McLaurin is in a contract dispute, Logan Thomas is a strong candidate to start the season on the reserve PUP list, and Curtis Samuel played 84 snaps last season. Our Greg Cosell compared Dotson to Diontae Johnson in the pre-Draft process and our John Hansen believes he could be a top-15 fantasy WR in the near future. We have Dotson projected for 800 yards over 16 games, which gives us a bit of cushion if he misses four contests based on his 50.0 yards per game average.
Washington Commanders under 8.5 wins (-170, FanDuel)
- The Commanders need to get to eight wins for the first time since 2016 to clear their win total this season. Washington’s quarterback situation is better than in recent seasons with Carson Wentz, but it’s tough to get too excited about a player who’s been shown the door by two different teams in the last two off-seasons. The rest of this roster stagnated this off-season outside of wide receiver with Jahan Dotson and essentially Curtis Samuel added to the mix. The Commanders’ organization also remains a complete s***show with the House Committee on Oversight putting a microscope on Daniel Snyder’s workplace and Jack Del Rio bringing unneeded attention to the team. The Commanders' win total could hinge on consecutive matchups against the Giants in Weeks 13 and 15 — they have a bye in between those contests. I’m siding with New York’s younger and hungrier coaching staff, but I’m not lining up to bet against a Commanders team that isn’t devoid of talent.