Which pivotal games on the schedule will define the Washington Commanders' chances during the upcoming 2023 campaign?
With the 2023 NFL season on the horizon, the league released its official schedule to great fanfare last week. Outside of their division rivals, the Washington Commanders will compete against members of the AFC East, NFC West, NFC South, and NFC North.
During a lackluster season where the Commanders missed the playoffs once again in 2022, head coach Ron Rivera managed his winningest season. However, eight wins were not enough for a wildcard berth within a highly competitive NFC East that sent three teams to the postseason.
In an important season for Rivera with the prospect of new ownership coming into the fold, here are the five most pivotal games of the Commanders' 2023 campaign.
Game No. 1
Commanders at Broncos - Week 2
With the likely possibility of Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray being out in Week 1, the first real test for the Washington Commanders will be at the Denver Broncos.
Offensively, the Broncos had a disastrous season in 2022 with quarterback Russell Wilson at the helm. However, new head coach Sean Payton can possibly turn that around.
The team has solid offensive weapons with the receiving core of Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler, Tim Patrick, Courtland Sutton, and Javonte Williams in the backfield. Also, Wilson will be looking to turn it around after his worst career season last year.
Despite their bad record, Denver's defense was sufficient throughout most of last season until Week 16. The Broncos ended 2022 having the 10th-best run defense in the league.
Both the Commanders' run and pass games will be battle tested. The Broncos have a strong secondary with names like safety Justin Simmons and Patrick Surtain II, who'll make things extremely difficult.
The Commanders have a difficult second half of the season, so Ron Rivera needs every win he can get over the opening few weeks. It will be a tough game, but a pivotal one in determining the direction of Washington's campaign early on.
Washington has lost three straight games to the Broncos when playing in Denver. It's time for that to change.