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NFL Power Rankings: Washington keeps winning and moving up

The Washington Commanders almost had a ranking in the Top 10!

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NFL: Washington Commanders at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Commanders defeated the Houston Texans 23-10 on Sunday, and have now won 5 of their last 6 games. Washington has a winning record during Thanksgiving week! Washington’s defense continues to be the driving force behind their wins, while Taylor Heinicke’s return as a starter has been the heart of the team. Several rankers, want to see more from the offense, but can’t deny that Washington has a different vibe with Heinicke under center.

Another win moved them up in most people’s rankings, and their average rose by over two spots. They’re peaking at #11 this week, and even last week’s lowest grader, Walter Football, moved them up 10 spots! Washington returns home this week after two games on the road, and will host the Atlanta Falcons. They opened the week as 3 point favorites, and need another win as they try to claw their way into playoff contention.

High: 11

Low: 20

Average: 15.2


Athlon Sports(Fischer)

There’s a lot to be said about Washington following up a massive road win by getting back on a plane and taking care of business right away down in Houston. And now, here comes Chase Young to add to the mix on defense. Last Week: 14



What/who is underachieving? Passing game

Washington invested in a new quarterback (Carson Wentz) and drafted a wide receiver in the first round (Jahan Dotson) to pair with Terry McLaurin and a healthy Curtis Samuel. Yet the passing attack has struggled, ranking 21st in yards per game, 25th in yards per attempt and 28th in completion percentage. The reasons vary: Wentz needed time to fully acclimate in the offense, but the protection didn’t give it to him, and the run game left the Commanders in bad third-down situations. Injuries have played a role, to Wentz, Dotson and tight end Logan Thomas. And while they’re 4-1 with quarterback Taylor Heinicke, it’s more a function of the run game and defense — and some timely throws by him. But with the protection improving and players getting healthy, the passing game could improve down the stretch. — John Keim Last Week: 17

The Score

Taylor Heinicke: Heinicke has outplayed Carson Wentz, who was acquired to be the starting quarterback this offseason. The Commanders are 4-1 since Heinicke took over as the starter, and they’re now in the NFC playoff hunt. Last Week: 15

Walter Football

Washington’s defense has suddenly become awesome, while the running game has improved. The Redskins also have some talented receivers. They would be a legitimate Super Bowl contender if they just had stronger quarterback play, but Taylor Heinicke continues to loft miserable floaters that are begging to be intercepted. Sadly, this is still better than what Washington was getting out of Carson Wentz. Last Week: 23


Sporting News(Iyer)

The Commanders started 1-4 and have won five of the past six games to get into serious NFC wild-card contention, even as the last place team in the shockingly tough NFC East. They can keep pushing the Giants, Cowboys and Seahawks with a key Week 12 matchup vs. the Falcons. Last Week: 15

NFL Spin Zone(Bedinger)

The Washington Commanders are rolling with Taylor Heinicke, and how could they not? The guy is going to have to find a pair of red and blue Jordan 1s after beating the Houston Texans this past week and getting himself another hefty “win” bonus. The Commanders are now 6-5 this season and frankly, they are rolling with Heinicke under center. Head coach Ron Rivera has informed Carson Wentz that they’re sticking with Taylor until the winning stops.

They play a very interesting matchup this coming week against the Atlanta Falcons. There are reasons to believe that could be the game of the week in the NFL, with the offensive output we’ve seen from the Falcons so far this season and the fact that Chase Young is coming back to the lineup in Week 12. Last Week: 18


All of a sudden the Commanders are looking prime for a wild card spot in the NFC. Washington’s defense should be getting Chase Young back as well. Last Week: 17

The Game Day(Arlia)

If Taylor Heinicke isn’t named the full-time starter when Carson Wentz returns, Ron Rivera should be fired on the spot.

Heinicke knocked off Wentz’s former team Monday night in Philadelphia, handing the Eagles their first loss of the season. The ’72 Dolphins send their regards. Last Week: 19


Last Week: 18


The 33rd Team(Domowitch)

Good news: Taylor Heinicke’s passing numbers aren’t much to look at, but the Commanders are 4-1 since he replaced Carson Wentz.

Bad news: The Commanders unexpectedly find themselves in the playoff hunt, but have a challenging schedule remaining, including two games with the Giants and games against the Cowboys and 49ers. Last Week: 15

Yahoo Sports(Schwab)

Taylor Heinicke will keep the starting quarterback job, and it’s the right call in the moment. However, the baffling path to that decision is an indictment of the Washington organization. They saw Heinicke start most of last season. They had time over the offseason to evaluate Carson Wentz, and traded a lot to get him. Early this season, Wentz was exactly what he has been the past few years. Heinicke isn’t really any different than he was last season. But after six games of Wentz, Washington decided Heinicke was better after all. Does all of that sound like rational decision making from a competent franchise? Last Week: 15


The Washington Commanders are 5-1 since Oct. 10, a stretch that the defense deserves even more credit for than they are receiving. Sticking with Taylor Heinicke as the starting quarterback is the right decision, just keep in mind Washington is barely cracking 20 PPG during this stretch and that suggests this run will end before January. Last Week: 16


With Chase Young back, the Commanders could be ready to leapfrog the Giants on the playoff tree. Last Week: 16

Fox Sports(Helman)

Sure, Taylor Heinicke deserves a lot of love for leading the Commanders to a 4-1 record since taking over as the starting quarterback. Quietly, though, their star-studded pass rush is starting to look like its old self — and Chase Young is on his way back from injury. Look out. Last Week: 17

New York Post(Dunleavy)

Last Week: 16


The Commanders are a thing in the NFC playoff race. That’s the only reasonable deduction after a 23-10 win over the moribund Texans moved Washington over the .500 mark for the first time since the season-opening win over Jacksonville. That’s five wins in six weeks for the Commanders, with four wins in five starts for Taylor Heinicke. After the game, Ron Rivera made it clear that this is Heinicke’s job as long as the team continues to win. “We are going to go with Taylor, and we’ll work Carson (Wentz) back in and see where Carson is in terms of when he’s ready to be the backup,” the coach said. “Then, we’ll go from there.” Wentz has been sidelined since mid-October by a finger injury. Last Week: 17

The Athletic(Wulf)

Thankful for: A drama-less quarterback decision

Ron Rivera’s decision to continue riding with Taylor Heinicke was an easy one from the outside. Washington was 2-4 before Carson Wentz was placed on injured reserve with a finger injury. The Commanders are 4-1 in games since, including Sunday’s blowout win in Houston. Heinicke is not solely responsible for that turnaround — the defense ranks fifth in TruMedia’s defensive EPA per drive over that span. And now that Chase Young is coming back, the Commanders are real playoff contenders (and just a half-game from the No. 7 seed). But odds are we haven’t heard the last from Wentz just yet. Last Week: 18

The Ringer(Gayle)

Taylor Heinicke has drawn acclaim as he’s kept the Commanders’ playoff hopes alive, going 4-1 as the starter over the last five weeks, but the offense has still been more bad than good on the Heinicke roller coaster. It’s the defense—which ranks fifth in points allowed per game since Heinicke took over—that is actually keeping Washington in the hunt. Too often throwing the ball into harm’s way or just blatantly inaccurate, Heinicke ranks 29th in EPA per dropback since Week 7. Last Week: 18

USA Today(Davis)

DE Chase Young was activated Monday, though it remains to be seen when he and his surgically repaired knee can contribute to Washington’s post-Wentz playoff push. Last Week: 18

Bleacher Report

The Washington Commanders are now officially Taylor Heinicke’s team.

After downing the Texans in emphatic fashion Sunday, the Commanders have won five of six and are above .500 for the first time since winning the season opener. Heinicke has won four of five starts in place on an injured Carson Wentz, and after Sunday’s victory head coach Ron Rivera told reporters that regardless of Wentz’s health, Heinicke will start next week against the Atlanta Falcons.

For his part, Heinicke said he’s going to enjoy the ride for however long it lasts.

“I take every opportunity I can get and have fun with it,” Heinicke said. “Something may change in two weeks and he’s back in there. Who knows? But this week I’ll have fun with it, go out there and hopefully get a win. I feel I play my best doing that. I just want to keep this thing rolling. The biggest thing for me is to try to be a clean quarterback, get the ball in those playmakers’ hands and let them do their thing.”

By just about any objective measure, Heinicke has outplayed Wentz. The team has certainly rallied around him. And there’s at least one other reason for the Commanders to stick with Heinicke.

If Wentz plays 70 percent of Washington’s snaps this year, the Commanders owe the Indianapolis Colts a second-round pick in 2023. But if Wentz fails to hit that benchmark, the pick becomes a third-rounder.

“At 6-5, the Commanders are technically the worst team in the NFC East,” Sobleski said. “Yet Rivera’s squad has won five of its last six games. Wentz’s injury opened the door for Heinicke, and the Commanders have been a better team because of the change. Granted, Heinicke hasn’t lit the world on fire. Yet he’s extending plays and getting the ball in the hands of his playmakers, particularly wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who has 352 receiving yards, including two 100-plus-yard efforts, in the team’s last four games. Rivera’s decision to name Heinicke the starter was the right move, and the Commanders could benefit with a surprising postseason appearance.” Last Week: 17


The Commanders were coming off a Monday night upset of the previously-undefeated Eagles at Philadelphia. Would there be a letdown when the team hit the road again and faced the Texans?

Less than two minutes into the game, Kendall Fuller picked off Houston quarterback Davis Mills and returned the prize 37 yards for a touchdown. Ron Rivera’s team opened up a 20-0 lead at halftime and limited the Texans to 148 total yards by game’s end. Last Week: 17

Pro Football Network(Miller)

The Commanders are on a roll. After starting the season 1-4, they’ve rattled off five of their last six games. Their only loss came against the Minnesota Vikings by three points, and just one week ago, they beat the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles.

Taylor Heinicke may not be in Washington’s long-term future, but he’s the best option on the roster for the rest of 2022 and most likely for 2023. That is, unless they can somehow do a better job signing or trading for a veteran in the offseason than they did with Carson Wentz.

Washington dominated the Houston Texans for four quarters. They weren’t great on third down, but they didn’t put themselves in a ton of third-down spots throughout the game. The Commanders’ defense demoralized the Texans’ offense, who couldn’t get anything going all game. Last Week: 18

Clutch Points(Johrendt)

Taylor Heinicke has been named the starter moving forward for the Washington Commanders, and they are a better team with him at the helm instead of Carson Wentz. Facing an uphill battle to be relevant this year, the Commanders have been exceeding expectations lately and look to continue that. Last Week: 22


Last Week: 19


CBS Sports(Prisco)

They have won five of six to get into the playoff race. The defense has really come on in recent weeks and Taylor Heinecke is managing things at quarterback. Last Week: 17



The Commanders are at the back end of our fringe-contender area. They move up one spot from last week but aren’t soaring despite a convincing two-game stretch over the previous two weeks. As mentioned above, Washington’s schedule is prohibitive, but its quarterback play is also regressing to baseline levels while the running game and defense struggle to pick up the slack. Last Week: 20


The Lines

Granted the level of competition was a massive step down against the Texans, but holding Dameon Pierce to 10 rushing yards on eight carries shows that Washington’s defensive line is starting to peak. The Commanders are getting back to a ground-and-pound approach ahead of a matchup against a Falcons team that plays similarly. Last Week: 23


Where should the Washington Commanders be ranked after 11 weeks?

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