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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Commanders vs. Cowboys - Week 12

As much as it's past time for them to clap back at the New York Giants, the Washington Commanders also need to put one on the Dallas Cowboys. Fortunately, they will have a few extra days to prepare for this meeting, after facing the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday Night Football the week before.

It means Dan Quinn will have ample time to prepare a few surprises for the offense he used to go against in practice so often. The former Cowboys' defensive coordinator doesn't have as much talent in Washington, but there are still enough pieces to expect a significant upturn from the Commanders' unit.

Those pieces include returning twin pillars, defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. Their primary remit will be to protect new linebackers Bobby Wagner, Jeremy Chinn, and Frankie Luvu.

The latter can be the Micah Parsons-style blitzing machine Quinn used so effectively in Dallas. Luvu, who has 20 career sacks to his credit, is already impressed by the head coach's schemes.

Washington's defense will need the oomph Luvu and Wagner can provide after being outscored 83-20 in two lopsided losses to the Cowboys last season. The chance to pile on an inconsistent offense still led by Dak Prescott and set to rely on Ezekiel Elliott on the ground again is real.

The Commanders have all the inside knowledge they need to make it happen. Quinn, defensive coordinator Joe Whitt Jr., and former Cowboys players like Dante Fowler Jr. and Dorance Armstrong each have the scoop on what Dallas does well to move the ball. They should know how to take away what these familiar foes do best.

Beating Dallas would do more than reverse an embarrassing recent trend. Victory over the Cowboys would be a marker for how the Commanders are rebuilding under Quinn.

A successful rebuild demands becoming a factor in the division again. Like it or not, that has to mean dominating the Cowboys. Doing so two weeks before the bye will position the Commanders for a strong finish.