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Commanders fans are predicting a win against the Falcons on Sunday and now expect a playoff seeding

Survey results!!!

Washington Commanders v Houston Texans Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

A newly confident fan base

Washington fan confidence as measured by weekly Results surveys, has hit its highest point of the year following an emphatic win against the Texans in Houston last Sunday, and Hogs Haven readers expect the winning to continue, with 91% of those responding to this week’s survey predicting a win against the Atlanta Falcons at FedEx Field.

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A win against the Falcons is a “must” if Washington wants to continue to be highly relevant in the NFC playoff discussion.

The playoff picture shifted slightly this week with movement in the NFC West, where the 49ers now lead the division based on tie breaker advantage over the Seahawks, who have an identical 6-4 advantage, putting them a half-game ahead of the Commanders for the conference 7th seed.

No other team outside the NFC East except the Vikings has a winning record, so the Commanders are well-positioned to earn a playoff seeding if they keep winning.

Within the NFC East, the Commanders are guaranteed to pull within a game of the 3rd place team on Thursday, as the Giants and Cowboys, who are both 7-3, play against each other in Dallas. The winner of that game moves to 8-4 and starts to put a stranglehold on the top wildcard seeding, while the loser falls to 7-4 and becomes vulnerable.

A win by Washington against the Falcons would close the gap between the 4th place Commanders and the team in 3rd place to just a half-game. With two games against the Giants coming up in Weeks 13 & 15 (with a bye in-between) and the Cowboys on the schedule in Week 18, Washington has the opportunity to control its own destiny if it can meet fan expectations and get to 7-5 this Sunday.

National expectations

The majority of NFL fans seem to share the sentiments of Hogs Haven with respect to the Commanders’ prospects this week.

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.

In an email survey of NFL fans of all 32 teams, Washington was picked to win at home against Atlanta. The Cowboys and Eagles were also picked to win this week.

The surge in fan confidence is definitely recent, and Hogs Haven readers broke the 80% barrier for the first time in 2022 with respect to the number of fans who feel the franchise is headed in the right direction.

The on-field results seem to have caught Washington fans by surprise.

Looking back

Back in Week 7 we asked this question:

The next 6 games until the bye week are:

  • Packers
  • @Colts
  • Vikings
  • @Eagles
  • @Texans
  • Falcons

How many games will the Commanders win between now and the bye week?

Eighty percent of fans in Week 7 predicted that the Commanders would win just 3 games or less, with the most popular prediction being 2 games.

Of course, the Commanders have won 4 out of the 5 games played so far since that Week 7 poll, with the only loss being a “shoulda won” game against the Vikings in Week 9.

With 91% of polled Hogs Haven readers this week predicting a win against the Falcons, it seems fair to say that there has been a huge shift in expectations from the fan base. Wins against the Packers, Colts and Eagles have re-written the narrative about the team.

We’ll find out this week what actually happens, and we’ll be back next week to ask about the win projections for Weeks 13-18 (Giants x 2, Niners, Browns, Cowboys).

The NFC East

For the moment, though, it looks as if Commanders fans are seeing flaws in the NY Giants’ resume, as the G-men have gone 1-2 in their most recent 3 games against the Seahawks, Texans and Lions after racing to a 6-1 start. It is widely expected that the Giants will suffer their 4th loss of the season on Thursday afternoon in Dallas.

As mentioned above, Washington’s next two games — in Weeks 13 & 15, with a Week 14 bye — are against the Giants. While, just a few weeks ago many people were fearing a possible season sweep by New York and hoping for a home & home split, expectations now seem to have shifted to include the possibility that Washington could win back-to-back games against their division rivals, which would — in combination with a Thanksgiving day loss to the Cowboys — likely knock the Giants out of the playoffs. The enticing possibility of 3 more wins by Week 15 that would lift the Commanders to 9-5 ahead of a road trip to play the suddenly-intimidating 49ers has some Washington fans a bit giddy — enough so that Hogs Haven readers are now projecting the currently-last-place Commanders to finish in 3rd place in the NFC East.

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.

In the offseason, many fans expected Washington to finish in 2nd or 3rd place in the division, but following the team’s 1-4 start, most wrote off the season as a total loss, so the renewed hope/expectation for a 3rd place finish represents a huge turnaround over the past 7 weeks.

Given the state of the NFC as s whole, a 3rd place finish for Washington in the East division would almost certainly mean a 6th or 7th seeding as an NFC wildcard team as well.

No easy games

Ron Rivera talked a great deal last week about the team having “not arrived” following their big win against the previously undefeated Eagles on Monday Night Football. He cautioned his team to take the 1-win Texans seriously, stressing that they were a well-coached NFL football team. Getting the win against Houston shouldn’t change the message at all.

If the Texans needed to be taken seriously, the Falcons should be seen as a more dangerous opponent. The 5-6 Falcons are just one game behind the Commanders in the playoff hunt and they (the Falcons) see this week as their opportunity to erase that deficit by getting a win, thus matching Washington’s overall record and securing a key tie breaker with a head-to-head win. There can be no letdown from the Commanders if they hope to finish the ‘22 season successfully.

Per Draft Kings, the spread has widened slightly, and the Commanders are now 4.5 point favorites to win, and the over/under on the game is 41 points. Behind Taylor Heinicke as a starter, the Commanders have averaged 22.4 points per game over the past 5 weeks. The Falcons offense, led by Marcus Mariota, is 12th in the league in points per game at 23.5.

Since Week 6 Washington’s defense has given up an average of 15.8 points per game, and no team has scored over 21 points against the team in that time. The Falcons defense is ranked 27th in the NFL, giving up 24.9 points per game.

Bill-in-Bangkok prediction:

Commanders 24

Falcons 20