6 games the Commanders must win on 2024 NFL schedule

These are must-win games for the Commanders.
Kliff Kingsbury
Kliff Kingsbury / Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY
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Jayden Daniels can beat Caleb Williams and the Chicago Bears to prove the Washington Commanders drafted the better quarterback. The No. 2 pick can also help his new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury get revenge against his former team the Arizona Cardinals.

Those are two of the six must-win games for the Commanders on their NFL schedule for 2024. The 17-game slate, which is short on primetime exposure, was revealed earlier this week. It shows Daniels making his regular-season debut against former No. 1 draft pick Baker Mayfield and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Beating the Bucs on the road would be a great way to kick-start the Dan Quinn era, but it's not must-win territory in Week 1. That status is surely reserved for when the Commanders renew NFC East hostilities with the New York Giants.

After losing three-straight to Big Blue, it's high time the Commanders get one over on their division rivals. There's never a bad time for Washington to beat the Dallas Cowboys, but Week 12's home tilt would be a great opportunity for head coach Quinn to show his former employers what they're missing.

Seeing off the Cowboys would precede yet another lighter workload for the Commanders. As NBC Sports' JP Finlay pointed out, December bye weeks are becoming the norm for Washington.

The early travels Finlay lamented are offset somewhat by the Commanders getting to enjoy home comforts three times during December. By then, Quinn and Kingsbury will have a good idea if Daniels is the franchise-altering QB1 Washington hoped they were getting with the No. 2 pick in this year's draft.

If the Heisman Trophy winner is living up to the hype, the Commanders will be far removed from the crater of last season's dismal 4-13 record. Significant improvement could even attach playoff implications to Week 17's game against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Commanders have two chances to get off to a strong start long before. With that being said, here are six must-win games on the 2024 schedule.

Commanders vs. Giants - Week 2 and Week 9

The Washington Commanders have enough talent to beat the New York Giants. However, they have a hard time defeating their NFC East rivals.

Both of those things are true, making Week 2 the perfect moment to snap a four-game run without a victory over the G-Men. The task will be easier now that Saquon Barkley is no longer with the opposition.

He's had some of his best games against Washington. A problem that hasn't gone away with Barkley set to do battle for the Philadelphia Eagles. Yet, his absence from the Giants will increase the burden on struggling signal-caller Daniel Jones to carry a pedestrian offense.

Jones does have some new weapons, notably top draft pick Malik Nabers. He's a burner at wide receiver who could give the Commanders trouble, provided Jones has time to find him.

That time will be hard to come by based on Jones' recent experiences against a Dan Quinn-coached defense. His Dallas Cowboys unit sacked Jones seven times during a 40-0 win in Week 1 last season. They got another five sacks during a 49-17 rout at AT&T Stadium.

Washington's defense - using Quinn's schemes to unleash edge-rushers like Dante Fowler Jr., Dorance Armstrong Jr., and Clelin Ferrell - will test a retooled Giants offensive line.

Handling the Giants' defensive front has been a consistent problem. Specifically, keeping All-Pro nose tackle Dexter Lawrence II under wraps. Now, the Commanders also have to deal with stud edge rusher Brian Burns.

Adding free agents, center Tyler Biadasz and guard Nick Allegretti, alongside promising Sam Cosmi, has strengthened the interior in front of Jayden Daniels. If this group can handle Lawrence and give their rookie quarterback room to run and throw on the move, Washington should earn a double over the old enemy.