The Washington Commanders took an expected nose dive in FanSided's NFL power rankings following their loss against the Buffalo Bills.
If this was the first litmus test of 2023 for Ron Rivera and the Washington Commanders, it's one they failed miserably. Their heavy home reverse against the Buffalo Bills was the biggest wake-up call imaginable, which completely sapped any optimism fans had of this team making the postseason along the way.
Granted, it was only one defeat. But the manner of such a loss was the biggest indicator yet of how much work the Commanders need to do in pursuit of becoming a legitimate Super Bowl challenger in the coming years.
There is a lot of football left and plenty of time for the Commanders to get their campaign back on track. Whether that comes this weekend at the unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles is anyone's guess, but some significant improvements are needed to avoid a similar fate during Washington's first divisional clash of the campaign.
Commanders placed at No. 19 in FanSided's power rankings
After such a demoralizing beatdown in front of a sold-out crowd at FedEx Field, it came as no surprise to see the Commanders take a nosedive from No. 10 to No. 19 in FanSided's weekly NFL power rankings by Russell S. Baxter. And the tale of the tape didn't make for pleasant reading.
"The Commanders rallied from 18 points down in the second quarter to surprise the Broncos at Denver a week ago. Now the team faced its second straight interconference opponent as they hosted the explosive Bills. It proved to be a long afternoon for Ron Rivera’s team, which trailed 10-0 after one quarter and never mounted a challenge. Quarterback Sam Howell was sacked nine times and threw four interceptions. Washington was limited to 230 total yards. Rivera’s club avoided a shutout when Joey Slye kicked a 51-yard field goal with only 46 seconds to play."- Russell S. Baxter, FanSided
Perhaps some sections of the fanbase who've been starved of success for so long got carried away by their two-game winning streak to begin the campaign. There is enough talent to make a better go of things at the Eagles, but one couldn't dismiss the possibility of another capitulation if specific position groups don't progress, either.
This is a conundrum Rivera and his staff must solve in double-quick time. Philadelphia has begun the season on a tear without truly hitting stride and will know exactly where to hurt the Commanders upon examining the film from their first three games - so nothing less than a rousing effort and improved decision-making on all fronts will do.
It's also the first time in his NFL career that Sam Howell is facing adversity. His laid-back persona could serve him well as he looks to brush off his poor display last time out, but the Eagles boast one of the most formidable defensive fronts in football and must be taken extremely seriously on home soil.
This is probably a fairer reflection of where the Commanders stand around the league rather than being a top-10 force. But if they manage to get their second-straight triumph at Lincoln Financial Field against all odds, expect the ever-changing narrative surrounding Rivera's men to shift once again.
That's the name of the game, after all.