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NFL Power Rankings: The Washington Commanders’ winning streak continues to push them higher

Washington is moving up

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NFL: Washington Commanders at Indianapolis Colts Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Commanders won their third game in a row with a victory over the Colts in Indianapolis. Washington is now 4-4 and will host Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings at FedEx Field on Sunday. Taylor Heinicke and Terry McLaurin combined for some magic on the game-winning drive, and will need more of that as they start facing better competition. Washington’s defense continues to shine, and forced several turnovers last week.

Washington’s average ranking jumped by over 3 this week, with some sites shooting the team on a three-game win streak up as much as 12 spots (thanks Pete Prisco). Others are still skeptical of a Heinicke-led team that plays two teams over the next two weeks that have a combined 1 loss (from playing each other).

High: 16

Low: 26

Average: 21.1


Bally Sports(Lago)

Taylor Heinicke, who gets a $125,000 bonus for playing 60% of snaps in a game and leading the team to victory, earned every penny for engineering the late comeback in Indy. Last Week: 21



The Commanders are suddenly in the mix after winning once again. Taylor Heinicke is sparking the offense in big moments. Last Week: 22


The Commanders took a mini two-game winning streak to Indianapolis and looked to get to the .500 mark. Ron Rivera’s club owned a 7-3 at halftime but wound up trailing 16-7 with 11:12 to play.

A Joey Slye 28-yard field goal with 4:55 remaining narrowed Washington’s deficit to six points. Moments later, Tylor Heinicke capped off a nine-play, 89-yard drive with a one-yard TD run with 22 seconds on the clock. Slye’s PAT gave Rivera’s team the win. Last Week: 22


The football team plays surprisingly well when ownership is under siege. Last Week: 22


CBS Sports(Prisco)

They’ve won three straight games to right things. Taylor Heinicke has played well at quarterback. Last Week: 30

The 33rd Team(Domowitch)

Good news: The Commanders have won three in a row after a 1-4 start, and are 2-0 with Taylor Heinicke at QB.

Bad news: With the 6-1 Vikings up next, chances are slim that Heinicke is going to make that 3-0 with him as the QB. Last Week: 23

Bleacher Report

The Washington Commanders are a .500 football team.

Granted, that’s not a Herculean achievement. But after starting the season 1-4 and looking very much the part of a tomato can, the Commanders have peeled off three straight wins. Two of those victories have come on the road, including Sunday’s last-minute comeback win over the Colts. Washington admittedly isn’t piling up style points. But it is stacking wins, leading quarterback Taylor Heinicke to credit the team’s toughness while speaking to reporters.

“I think it’s the intangible things that keep this team together. A lot of the wins aren’t pretty,” Heinicke said. “But it’s a win, nonetheless. The guys have a lot of heart. They keep battling. ... That’s just our team, man. We’re just a bunch of guys out there working hard and trying to play our best ball. I love this team. It’s my favorite team I’ve been on, my favorite locker room I’ve been with. I can’t say enough good things about the guys in there.”

“Forget Carson Wentz,” Davenport said. “This Commanders team just seems to respond with Heinicke under center—and ugly wins count the same as pretty ones. Still, while Heinicke is a fun story and Washington’s best bet as a stopgap at quarterback, it’s hard to see these Commanders surviving a gauntlet that includes the Vikings, Eagles and Giants over the next five weeks.” Last Week: 23



Reason for optimism: Defensive line

Defensive tackles Jon Allen and Daron Payne have been a key part in Washington’s improved defensive play overall. In the past six weeks, Washington’s defense ranks fifth in yards per carry, eighth in sack percentage per dropbacks, fifth in yards and ninth in points. And it starts up front, where the Commanders have talent and depth. Allen has 3.5 sacks and nine tackles for a loss, two shy of his career best. Payne has 4.5 sacks, a half sack shy of his career best, and his six tackles for loss are one off his career high. Montez Sweat has played fine, but he should be helped by the return of Chase Young. Young is expected to practice Wednesday, but might not play until Week 10 at Philadelphia. Still, his return will be a big boost. — John Keim Last Week: 21

Athlon Sports(Fischer)

Right before Halloween, who else but Scary Terry (McLaurin) in his hometown to come to the rescue? There wasn’t much going on in that trip to Indianapolis until the very end but you wonder if this group can use that kind of win as a springboard moving forward. Last Week: 20

Sporting News(Iyer)

The Commanders have been indeed sparked again by Taylor Heinicke, who took care of Carson Wentz’s revenge in Indianapolis by out-gritting Sam Ehlinger. Washington is still the worst of the new best division in the NFL. Last Week: 21

The Score

Don’t look now, but Washington is keeping pace in an exciting NFC East race with its third straight win. The Commanders appear to be thriving under the stewardship of Taylor Heinicke. Washington is 2-0 since Carson Wentz was placed on injured reserve, and Terry McLaurin continues to produce for the club in clutch moments. Last Week: 22

Fox Sports(Helman)

Terry McLaurin’s heroic grab to set up Washington’s game-winning touchdown deserves more love than it got during a busy NFL Sunday. That’s the price of playing during the early window. The Commanders are unlikely to care, having clawed back to .500. Taylor Heinicke is flawed but fun, and the Washington defense made the plays that mattered in the red zone. Last Week: 25


Last Week: 29


Yahoo Sports(Schwab)

Chase Young will return to practice on Wednesday, coach Ron Rivera said, and then Washington will have 21 days to activate him off the PUP list. There’s no guarantee Young will be right back to his old form anytime soon, but he is an immense talent and perhaps he can spark a Commanders team that is off to a surprising 4-4 start. Last Week: 23

Boston Herald(Guregian)

Wouldn’t have pegged them for a three-game win streak. But their outlook changed when Taylor Heinicke took over for the injured Carson Wentz. He’s injected a little Heinicke magic into the equation. Last Week: 26

New York Post(Dunleavy)

Last Week: 22


NFL Spin Zone(Gurzi)

All it took to turn things around for the Washington Commanders was to use a quarterback not named Carson Wentz. With Taylor Heinicke under center the past two weeks, they have now won back-to-back games — well, they did beat Chicago with Wentz to make it three in a row, but the fact remains they look more competent with Heinicke under center.

This weekend, they were able to secure a one-point win with the offense going 82 yards in 12 plays capped off by a touchdown run from Heinicke. That score came with just 22 seconds left to play which wasn’t enough time for the Colts. Now at 4-4, they’re still in the race but happen to play in a tough division where the Cowboys and Giants are 6-2 and the Eagles are 7-0. Last Week: 26



Talk about the perfect homecoming. In his return to Indiana, Terry McLaurin simply accounted for 113 receiving yards and made the game-changing play in the closing seconds that set up the win. At this point, it’s fair to start wondering if a healthy Carson Wentz should even get the starting job back when he returns. Last Week: 24


The Ringer(Gayle)

Taylor Heinicke playing as well as he did against the Colts is exactly why the Commanders never should have traded for Carson Wentz this offseason. Neither quarterback is a long-term answer at the position, but Heinicke didn’t cost the Commanders multiple draft picks and $28 million in 2022. There’s no obvious way forward with the Commanders’ quarterback situation beyond this season, but one thing is for sure: Terry McLaurin is one of the team’s few premier talents. He has clutch fourth-quarter catches in back-to-back wins now with Heinicke at the helm, including a surreal contested snag over Stephon Gilmore to set up the go-ahead score in Week 8. Last Week: 26


There’s something special about watching an athlete ball out in his hometown the way Terry McLaurin did on Sunday in Indianapolis. Last Week: 27


The Athletic(Wulf)

Fact: Last week, we highlighted Ryan Tannehill’s consistent downward trendline in performance as the game goes on. Washington’s offense has done the opposite this season. Its EPA per drive rankings by quarter:

First quarter: -1.69 (31st)

Second quarter: -0.42 (24th)

Third quarter: -0.30 (20th)

Fourth quarter: 0.30 (14th)

Opinion: Terry McLaurin is like the one cool kid who fell in with the wrong crowd. One day you hope he finds a crew worthy of him. Last Week: 27

USA Today(Davis)

Look who’s suddenly tied for the NFC’s final wild-card spot and could soon get DE Chase Young back in the lineup? Last Week: 23


The Washington Commanders are scrappy as hell. Ron Rivera’s motley bunch found a way once again on Sunday, getting a Taylor Heinicke QB sneak touchdown with 22 seconds remaining to steal a 17-16 win away from the Colts. It’s Washington’s third straight win, pulling them back to .500 and into the playoff race of the unsettled NFC. The vibes are much improved in Landover, but the cruel crush of reality feels imminent: Washington’s next two opponents — the Vikings and Eagles — have a combined record of 13-1. Find a way to sneak out of that dastardly doubleheader with a win, and we’ll see the Commanders as true players in the wild-card hunt. Last Week: 28

Clutch Points(Johrendt)

What do we have here — a win! Taylor Heinicke willed this team to a win (which gave him more pocket change), keeping them in the NFC Wild Card race. Heinicke has been in this role before and excels being the underdog, so at least this fan base has something to cheer for.



Taylor Heinicke is trusted by this Commanders offensive staff. He threw more than 30 times and for nine yards per attempt. At this point, a backup-plus kind of player can keep the Commanders in games, especially when they are facing a similarly limited backup quarterback like Sam Ehlinger. Last Week: 30

The Lines

Taylor Heinicke has injected some life into a dormant Washington offense and the Commanders defense is holding opponents to a 28.2% third-down conversion rate during a surprising three-game win streak. Last Week: 27

Walter Football

It feels like the Redskins are 1-7 as opposed to 4-4, but they’ve crawled back to a .500 record somehow. I have to wonder where they’d be if they had started Taylor Heinicke this entire time instead of Carson Wentz. I have to believe they would have prevailed in at least one of the games they lost, primarily the battle against the Titans. The sharps have been betting the Redskins every week, to their credit. Last Week: 29

Pro Football Focus


Last Week: 26


Where should the Washington Commanders be ranked after 8 weeks?

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