clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NFL Power Rankings: Washington’s big loss to the Giants dims their playoff hopes

Washington lost their playoffs edge

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NFL: New York Giants at Washington Commanders Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Commanders tied the New York Giants in their first meeting, and had their bye week for additional time to prepare for the rematch. That effort fell short at FedEx Field on Sunday night, and the Washington lost to New York 20-12. The Commanders drop to 7-6-1 and the 7th seed, while the Giants go to 8-5-1 and the 6th seed. Washington’s odds of getting into the playoffs dropped to 36% with this loss.

Last week most power rankers didn’t move Washington very much over their bye week, but this week’s loss has given them pause and dropped them in almost every ranking. Washington opened the week as big road underdogs to the San Francisco 49ers, and then end the season with home games against the Cleveland Browns and the Dallas Cowboys. Their lowest rank dropped to 19th, and their average ranking actually went down by 2.1.

High: 10

Low: 19

Average: 14.2



Last Week: 11


CBS Sports(Prisco)

At 7-6-1, they would still be in the playoffs if they started today. But losing at home to the Giants is a big hit for this team as the offense struggled. Last Week: 10

Athlon Sports(Fischer)

The coaching staff and fans have every right to be furious at the officiating down at the goal line with the game on the line. Still, the lack of offense the past few weeks is a big reason why the skepticism surrounding Taylor Heinicke is starting to grow from grumblings to just short of a chorus. Last Week: 7


Tough loss at home for the Commanders, who lost the game by playing terribly in both red zones. Last Week: 11



Pleasant surprise: S Darrick Forrest

The 2021 fifth-round pick missed most of his rookie season with a hamstring injury but opened coaches’ eyes with his special teams play late in the year. He has muscled his way into the starting lineup and forced Washington to use mostly three-safety sets — along with Kam Curl and Bobby McCain. It has created versatility in the secondary. Forrest plays smart and physical; he has intercepted three passes, forced two fumbles and recovered one, and is fourth on the team in solo tackles. — John Keim Last Week: 13


The Commanders have every right to be salty the morning after their last-minute loss to the Giants, even if they remain inside the current playoff picture (along with the entirety of the NFC East, which is evidence of life’s rich pageant). The no-call on the pass into the end zone was far less egregious than the official’s not being clear with Terry McLaurin as to whether he was properly lined up. Last Week: 13

Sporting News(Iyer)

The Commanders couldn’t find reliable offense with Taylor Heinicke and their defense regressed to some early-season ways. That’s not good timing for their playoff hopes with the 49ers next. Last Week: 11

NFL Spin Zone(Gurzi)

A three-game winning streak ended for the Washington Commanders in Week 13 when they tied with the New York Giants. They then had an extra week to think about that due to a Week 14 bye, and then had an immediate chance for redemption as they played the Giants again in Week 15.

It’s not often a team gets to play the same opponent two weeks in a row but the Commanders had that opportunity. They could have really made some headway in the NFC playoff race but instead, they followed up the tie with a loss to the Giants on Sunday Night Football.

Now at 7-6-1, they’re still the No. 7 seed and would be in the playoffs should the season end today but they’re not feeling as good as they were before the two games against New York. Last Week: 11


The refs botched the end of Sunday night’s NFC East battle, but Washington’s performance left much to be desired all the same. Last Week: 10


A loss is a loss, even if it comes with an asterisk. Last Week: 12

Walter Football

Last Week: 13


Bleacher Report

Most of the talk after the Washington Commanders’ loss centered on the officiating, whether it was the illegal formation penalty called at the 1-yard line on Terry McLaurin or perceived pass interference against Curtis Samuel in the end zone that wasn’t called. Both players tiptoed around the matter, though it wasn’t hard to read between the lines.

“When I moved up, I checked to see if I was good, and he said I was good,” McLaurin said. “I’m not trying to get fined. We had other opportunities; for it to come down like that is tough.”

Samuel said: “I can’t control that [the officiating]. All I can do is try to make the play when the ball is in the air. I’m not a ref; ain’t nothing I can do about that.”

Quarterback Taylor Heinicke, however, said those two calls didn’t decide the game—but a lack of execution by the Commanders did.

“You take those plays out, there’s still a lot of missed opportunities,” he said. “You can’t blame the refs. There are some calls there that are questionable. But again, there’s other plays out there to be made and we didn’t make them. Ultimately, it’s on us.”

Heinicke has the right attitude. The Commanders have no time for lamentations. Their playoff hopes are hanging by a thread, and with games against the 49ers and Cowboys to be played, there’s no room for mistakes. Last Week: 12

Touchdown Wire(Lane)

As tends to happen around Christmastime, the pixie dust on Taylor Heinicke starts to wear off. Nevertheless he was the starting quarterback when they spoiled Philadelphia’s perfect season. Is there still a little magic left to expose the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in Week 16? Last Week: 12

Pro Football Network(Miller)

With the Lions surging and the Giants and Seahawks still hot on their heels, the Commanders needed a win against their division rival on Sunday night. Unfortunately, their division rival was able to steal a game away from what appears, at least on paper, as a better football team.

Chase Young’s return has been highly anticipated, to the point where fans are probably drooling at this point. A Washington defense that has finally started playing to its potential gets one of its most talented pieces back. Young, Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, and Montez Sweat are a nightmare group for any offensive line to deal with.

But the Washington offense hasn’t been consistent all season, and it’s the reason why they couldn’t overcome the Giants at home. They actually moved the ball better than New York throughout the night but couldn’t get the job done in the red zone, scoring only once in their three trips. It certainly didn’t help that on the Commanders’ final snap, the officiating crew decided to choke on their whistles. Last Week: 13

Fox Sports(Helman)

Here’s guessing Ron Rivera sent a few video clips to the league office for explanations on officiating. If you’re a Commanders fan, it’s perfectly rational to feel jobbed by the way that Sunday night loss wrapped up. The team itself can’t afford to dwell. Washington still has somewhat of a wild-card chance if they can handle business. Rooting for a Lions loss or two wouldn’t hurt, either. Last Week: 11

AZ Central(Cluff)

Lost to Giants, 20-12, to fall to 7-6-1. The Commanders’ road to the postseason got a lot tougher with the loss to the Giants, with the 49ers and Cowboys still on the schedule. Last Week: 10

New York Post(Dunleavy)

Last Week: 10


When it was over, the Commanders had every right to be frustrated. An illegal procedure penalty on Terry McLaurin wiped out a Brian Robinson TD in the final minute, and a subsequent fourth-down pass to Curtis Samuel was ruled incomplete despite compelling visual evidence that Samuel had been interfered with by Giants corner Darnay Holmes. Of course, the Giants could point to other moments in the game where the Commanders could have taken control and failed to do so, including the previous Washington possession that ended with a Taylor Heinicke fumble in the red zone. A confounding night all around for a Commanders team that just made its path to the playoffs a lot more difficult. Last Week: 14

The Athletic(Wulf)

Final three games: at San Francisco, vs. Cleveland, vs. Dallas

Despite holding the No. 7 seed in the NFC at the moment — keeping the dream of all four NFC East teams making it alive — the Commanders are down to a 38.7 percent chance of making it into the dance by Mock’s projections. The red-hot Lions are favored to grab the final spot. Much worse for the Commanders, they now face the humiliating question of whether they should hand the team back to Carson Wentz. After the debate over Terry McLaurin’s penalty and the pass interference no-call on the game’s final play, I appreciated this wisdom from Logan Thomas: “I guess it’s a hard job being a referee. But it’s a hard job playing too.” Last Week: 13

Clutch Points(Johrendt)

In a game that the Washington Commanders desperately needed, it was their offense that failed them on multiple occasions when they needed them the most. Taylor Heinicke struggled under pressure from NYG’s pass rush, Brian Robinson had some success on the ground but game script took the ball away from him, and Jahan Dotson hauled in a TD, but the offense was unable to find the end zone on its final drive of the game. Last Week: 14

The Score

Falling to the Giants was a major setback for the Commanders. Their remaining schedule might make it difficult for them to hold onto a playoff spot. Last Week: 11


Last Week: 13


The 33rd Team(Domowitch)

Good news: The Commanders have a playoff-caliber defense, especially if they finally get DE Chase Young back this week. In their last nine games, Washington has held opponents to 18.8 points per game.

Bad news: The last thing Washington’s struggling offense needs right now is a road game against the 49ers. They’ll be lucky to score six points against the 49ers’ No. 1-ranked defense. Last Week: 12


A battle between two mediocre NFL teams ended in fitting fashion, with a penalty wiping out a touchdown followed by a missed DPI erasing a shot to set up one final play that could have culminated in overtime. Ron Rivera’s team doesn’t quit and there is still a lot to like about the defense, but quarterback is still holding this roster back and it’s hard to see that changing in 2023. Last Week: 13


The Ringer(Gayle)

Commanders fans need to stop complaining about the officiating at the end of the game against the Giants. Washington essentially had three weeks to prepare for the Giants—if you include their Week 13 matchup and their Week 14 bye—and yet they still managed to come out flat. Score 12 points at home in a must-win game with the edge in rest and preparation, and you deserve to miss the playoffs regardless of how many calls the officials miss. Last Week: 14

Yahoo Sports(Schwab)

Commanders fans can complain about the Terry McLaurin illegal formation penalty that was hard to explain and wiped out a touchdown, and pass interference should have been called on fourth down, but Washington also has itself to blame. The Commanders came out flat, played a terrible first half and lost a must-win game at home to the Giants. Last Week: 15

USA Today(Davis)

They certainly weren’t helped by the officiating Sunday night ... but Washington also didn’t take care of business and is very much in danger of falling into the clutches of Seattle or Detroit. Last Week: 15


The Lines

Taylor Heinicke committed several turnover-worthy plays in the second half of a loss to the Giants as the Commanders fumbled a golden opportunity to take control of their playoff destiny. Now they’ve opened as 7-point dogs in a brutal spot in San Francisco. Last Week: 16


Where should the Washington Commanders be ranked after 16 weeks?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Top 12
    (15 votes)
  • 54%
    (64 votes)
  • 23%
    (27 votes)
  • 9%
    (11 votes)
117 votes total Vote Now