3 reasons Commanders should be taken seriously in NFC playoff race
By Jerry Trotta
There was a collective mantra echoed among Washington Commanders fans this week. Basically, everyone begged for no emotional letdown. You see it all the time in the NFL. A team coming off a big win — or a team that has a big rivalry game the next week — overlooks its current opponent only to lose the game.
The Commanders didn’t let that happen. A Kendall Fuller pick-six really helped the cause, but Washington didn’t take its foot off the gas. The defense held Dameon Pierce to less than 10 rushing yards, and Davis Mills found little success through the air before scoring a garbage time TD in the fourth quarter.
The offense wasn’t prolific and struggled on third down, but it sustained long drives to exhaust Houston’s defense. In fact, their three scoring drives in the first half went for a combined 28 plays and consumed nearly 13 minutes of clock.
By the end of the first half, the Commanders opened up a 2-0 lead, their biggest since Ron Rivera was hired as head coach in 2020. Washington is now 6-5 on the year and should be taken seriously in the crowded NFC playoff picture.
3 reasons the Commanders should be taken seriously in NFC playoff picture.
3. No crippling injuries
Let’s put it this way. The Commanders were in the NFC playoff picture for a duration of last season despite being one of the NFL’s most injured teams.
Between, Curtis Samuel, Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Brandon Scherff, Logan Thomas, Chase Roullier, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Benjamin St-Juste and Sam Cosmi, (we’re probably missing a few), the then-Football Team played a huge chunk of of their schedule without some of their most important players.
After Week 11, Washington has a relatively clean bill of health. The only notable inactives for Sunday included Cole Holcomb and J.D. McKissic.Is anyone losing sleep over David Mayo and Armani Rogers being shelved? Didn’t think so.
We already knew Carson Wentz was injured, but he’ll like be active next week, and the team is playing better with Taylor Heinicke anyway. Chase Young still being sidelined is disappointing, but all signs point to him returning in Week 12, and the defensive line (more on them in a minute) is playing out of its mind.
Never underestimate the importance of health in a playoff race, and Washington’s injury luck has improved dramatically after 2021.
Don’t worry, I knocked on wood.