Where do the Washington Commanders sit in FanSided's power rankings following their Week 1 win against the Arizona Cardinals?
As far as the performance went, it wasn't great overall. However, the Washington Commanders came through when it counted to get their first regular season game under new ownership off on the best possible start with a victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1.
That was the most important thing. Ron Rivera acknowledged that things have to get better, but being 1-0 trumped all else heading into Washington's difficult-looking trip to the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium.
Denver is coming off a Week 1 reverse to the Las Vegas Raiders and won't want to suffer a similar fate during Sean Payton's regular season home debut as head coach. But this is a game the Commanders can win if they protect the football with more efficiency and cope with the famous altitude complications.
Commanders at No. 19 in FanSided's power rankings
The Commanders are obviously going to be reliant on their imposing defense - especially over the first few weeks until quarterback Sam Howell firmly finds his feet. Their front four was nothing short of spectacular in Week 1 and although the opposition wasn't exactly stellar, the secondary also came up clutch down the stretch to get Washington over the line.
When stacking Rivera's men among their NFL counterparts, Russell Baxter from FanSided placed Washington at No. 19 in his power rankings heading into Week 2. Not the worst spot in the world, but an indication there is also room for improvement, too.
"The Commanders ended 2022 on a high note and managed to avoid a losing season. Still, the franchise finished last in a division where the other three teams went onto the playoffs. Quarterback Sam Howell made just his second NFL start. Ron Rivera’s team was hoping to get off to a good start against the visiting Cardinals. Washington trailed, 16-10, in the final quarter but scored the final 10 points of the game. Rivera’s club gave up 210 yards, forced Cardinals’ quarterback Josh Dobbs into two turnovers and kept Arizona’s offense out of the end zone."- Russell Baxter, FanSided
If the Commanders can go to Denver and pick up the win on Sunday, the entire league will start looking at them a little differently. There are still some unknowns - especially given this is Howell's first road game as a starting NFL quarterback - so how inexperienced individuals handle such a hostile environment will play a critical role in the overall outcome.
Starting the campaign 2-0 would be a dream for Rivera with immense pressure on his shoulders. This would ensure another electrifying atmosphere at FedEx Field in Week 3 when Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills come to town.
And make no mistake, they can be beaten too.
The Commanders have always flashed good results here and there under Rivera. Finding the right consistency to become a force has been the biggest challenge, so it'll be interesting to see if his latest quarterback gamble can provide the stability needed in a pressure-cooker situation.
If Howell meets these targets, the Commanders will rise further up FanSided's power rankings in no time at all.