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NFL Power Rankings: Washington’s season was a bust and everyone’s pointing fingers

The final power rankings of the season

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NFL: Washington Commanders-Carson Wentz Press Conference John McCreary-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Commanders season is over after not winning a game in December or January. They lost to the Cleveland Browns at home last week, and then Ron Rivera was informed his team could be eliminated later that afternoon if the Packers won, which is exactly what happened. Washingtons still has to play out the string with a season finale home game against the Dallas Cowboys, but this game won’t be about winning. It will be about resting starters and starting the evaluation process for some younger players like rookie QB Sam Howell.

This week’s power rankings were delayed due to the situation that happened on the field during the Monday Night Football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills. Safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field after a routine tackle. His heartbeat was restored on the field and he rushed to a local hospital in critical condition. He is recovering now, but the NFL had to postpone the game. They later cancelled it, along with agreeing to modified playoff conditions due to the unprecedented situation. This also put some power rankings and fantasy football leagues on hold as they waited to see what the league would do.

For Washington, that doesn’t really matter since their season is over. The year end collapse was disappointing, but the turn to QB Carson Wentz was laughable with the season on the line. The power rankers dropped Washington and rightfully blasted the team, and Head Coach Ron Rivera, for going from the 6th seed, to a team failed every time they had a chance to continue their playoff push. Their highest rank dropped to 16th, their lowest rank dropped to 27th, and their average ranking actually went down by 6.

High: 16

Low: 27

Average: 21.4


Pro Football Network(Miller)

The Washington Commanders are an enigma. After the game, their coach seemed not to understand that they could be eliminated from playoff contention if the Packers beat Minnesota. That probably wouldn’t have, and shouldn’t have, changed his decision to start Carson Wentz.

But after the second interception, that tune should have changed. It’s fine to seek a spark for the offense, but Wentz held the lighter but was soaked in so much gasoline that he lit the offense on fire. It didn’t look like Washington was the team competing for a spot in the playoffs this week, and with Dallas possibly playing for the division — and potentially the top seed in the NFC — it’s unlikely they look much better in Week 18. Last Week: 14


CBS Sports(Prisco)

They are done. The move to Carson Wentz as quarterback didn’t pay off. It might have been nice if Ron Rivera knew the playoff scenarios for his team. Last Week: 12


Starting Carson Wentz seemed like a terrible idea, and it proved even worse than imagined. Last Week: 13


Being completely unaware of basic playoff scenarios isn’t a great look for Ron Rivera. Far worse is the team dropping from 7-5 to 7-8-1 and the Carson Wentz trade predictably blowing up in this team’s face. Rivera has job security, but it’s fair to wonder if he really should. Last Week: 14


Last Week: 14



What. A. Collapse. Last Week: 14

The Score

Last Week: 15



Regular season in five words or fewer: Year 3 disappointment

Coach Ron Rivera made a big emphasis on taking a big step in Year 3 of his program, just as he did in Carolina — and by Year 5 the Panthers were in the Super Bowl. Instead, he’ll finish with his third consecutive non-winning season in Washington, in one of the most disappointing seasons here in a while. The Commanders were 7-5-1 and in control of their playoff destiny, only to lose three in a row. Washington wasted a defense that was playoff caliber most of the season as well as a solid rushing attack. A poorly constructed offensive line combined with ineffective quarterback play — from Carson Wentz in particular — wrecked their chances. — John Keim Last Week: 14

Sporting News(Iyer)

The Commanders blew a playoff shot by looking completely clueless near the end under Ron Rivera, from the quarterback indecision between Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke to the whole elimination mess. Seems right for Washington. Last Week: 13

Bleacher Report

The Washington Commanders made a switch at quarterback in Week 17, going back to Carson Wentz in an effort to save their lagging postseason hopes.

It didn’t help even a little.

Wentz was mostly abysmal against the Browns, throwing three interceptions in an ugly loss that paved the way for Washington to be eliminated from playoff contention. It’s the second time in as many years that Wentz crumbled in a must-win game at the end of the season, and he acknowledged to reporters that he didn’t play well.

“I tried to be aggressive, tried to force a couple throws early, obviously, and kind of put us in a hole,” Wentz said. “Then the rest of the way just didn’t make enough plays personally, as a team—the whole nine yards. I’m definitely kicking myself over some.”

Given the cries for Taylor Heinicke that rained down from the stands Sunday and Wentz’s performance this season, the Commanders will likely head back to the drawing board to find a quarterback in the offseason.

“Amazingly, Washington self-sabotaged its hopes of making the playoffs by reinserting Wentz into the starting lineup,” Sobleski said. “He ‘rewarded’ the coaching staff’s faith in him by throwing three interceptions against a marginal-to-bad defense. To make matters worse, Ron Rivera seemingly didn’t know the team could be eliminated from the playoffs.

“With another potential loss looming next week against the Cowboys, the Commanders could finish with seven wins for the third straight season under Rivera.” Last Week: 15

Athlon Sports(Fischer)

Carson Wentz is who he is at this point, something that has become solidified with his play in Washington. Last Week: 16


Last Week: 16


The Commanders are going home after the Week 18 finale in large part because of continued instability at quarterback. Ron Rivera’s decision to turn to Carson Wentz backfired on Sunday, as Wentz threw three interceptions in a loss to the Browns that eliminated Washington from playoff contention. Rivera turned to Wentz because of Taylor Heinicke’s inconsistency, and now he looks to rookie Sam Howell, who has yet to play a regular-season snap, to start Sunday. Depending on how the fifth-rounder plays in his debut, the Commanders might be best served by a reboot at the game’s most important position. It remains to be seen if Rivera will still be connected to the operation when that all-important QB decision is made — this could be an offseason of change at every major level of the organization. Last Week: 16

Yahoo Sports(Schwab)

It’s alarming that everyone in the world knew Carson Wentz wouldn’t work out for Washington, but the Commanders obliviously dove right in. It’s emblematic of a franchise that can’t do anything right. Now they turn to rookie Sam Howell, which, shrug. Last Week: 17

Clutch Points(Johrendt)

Nothing quite says the Washington Commanders than blowing a late-season chance at making the playoffs, and then their head coach not knowing they could be eliminated later in the day. Last Week: 15


The 33rd Team(Domowitch)

Good news: Third-round rookie Brian Robinson has been one of the team’s few offensive bright spots. He has rushed for 578 yards over the last seven games.

Bad news: So much for thinking Carson Wentz could kickstart the offense. He threw three interceptions against the Browns. Last Week: 16

USA Today(Davis)

What the heck? Fifth-round rookie QB Sam Howell played well enough, well, in preseason, that he almost – well, maybe – gives Washington its best shot at a last-ditch bid for a .500 season. Last Week: 16

The Lines

Carson Wentz might be a notch more talented than Taylor Heinicke, yet his leadership and decision-making abilities seem to be a notch below the effervescent underdog. In any case, Washington went from around -200 to make the playoffs to being eliminated with three straight losses. Last Week: 19


Walter Football

Ron Rivera had the derp moment of the year by starting Carson Wentz. What was he thinking? This is not something we’re criticizing him in hindsight. Everyone knew this was a stupid decision! Last Week: 16


Touchdown Wire(Lane)

When you start Carson Wentz in an elimination game, and don’t realize the Green Bay Packers can put the nail in your coffin in the late afternoon game, you drop 12 spots. Aside from 2020, when the entire NFC East collapsed, Ron Rivera’s teams, going back to the 2019 Carolina Panthers, have strong starts but fall apart by January. Last Week: 15


Where should the Washington Commanders be ranked after 17 weeks?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    (44 votes)
  • 21%
    (126 votes)
  • 13%
    (83 votes)
  • 57%
    Who cares?
    (342 votes)
595 votes total Vote Now