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Commanders fans are looking for a victory in the Meadowlands on Sunday and a shot at first place in the NFC East a week later

Poll Results!!

NFL: OCT 15 Commanders at Falcons Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Commanders Fan Confidence

After plummeting to just 19% last week, Commanders fans expressed a lot more confidence in the direction of the team following a road win over the Falcons this past Sunday.

This week, the number of fans proclaiming confidence in the direction of the team climbed back over the 50% mark, with 52% of respondents saying they feel good about where the franchise is headed.

Sam Howell

A lot of that confidence seems to be linked to the play of Washington’s young quarterback, Sam Howell, who threw for 388 151 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions on the road in Week 6, handing Atlanta its first home loss of the season.

Sam Howell, who has now started 7 NFL games, continues to be inconsistent, which is to be expected of a 23-year-old quarterback with limited pro experience. He had a really impressive start to the game against the Falcons, throwing for 3 TDs by the 12-minute mark of the third quarter, but from there, he captained 4 consecutive offensive drives that ended with punts, none longer than 5 plays and none gaining more than 21 yards. He also took 5 sacks in the game.

Still, the Washington offense didn’t give up any turnovers, and Howell finished with the 2nd highest QBR of Week 6.

Through 6 weeks, Sam Howell is doing well in many statistical measures:

  • 5th in both attempts and completions (214 - 145)
  • 10th in passing yards per game (250)
  • 10th in completion percentage (67.8%)
  • 10th in touchdowns (9)
  • 9th in passing first downs (71)
  • 14th in passing success rate (45.2%)
  • 15th in QB Rating (90.1)
  • 1st (tied) in 4th quarter comebacks (2)
  • 2nd (tie) in game winning drives (2)

For a team that was supposed to be carried by its defense while Sam Howell learned the NFL game, the former UNC QB and 2022 5th round draft pick has been a pleasant surprise.

Part of the lack of confidence expressed by fans a week ago was due to the poor showing by both the offense and the defense against the Bears. In that game, the offense gave up two turnovers and scored only 20 points. On the other side of the ball, the 40 points given up to the Bears on Thursday Night Football marked the 4th consecutive game that the defense had surrendered 33 points or more.

Fan confidence has snapped back this week, and that’s probably because it wasn’t just Sam Howell who played well on Sunday. Against Atlanta, the defense did what it needed to do, giving up over 400 yards to the Atlanta offense, but securing 3 turnovers and holding the Falcons to 16 points.

Looking ahead to Sunday

The overall confidence in the direction of the team is also reflected in fans’ confidence about the game against the New York Giants this Sunday at the Meadowlands. Washington is favored by 3 points per DraftKings, and Hogs Haven readers agree with the oddsmakers.

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In fact, 73% of those responding to the survey this week picked the Commanders to get the road win that would take them above .500 for the first time since Week 3, when they were 2-1.

The opponent is a struggling Giants team with a 1-5 record, but divisional games are often close and rarely predictable.

In Week 6, the Giants played the now 4-2 Bills on Sunday Night Football, and held the lead from the middle of the 1st quarter until late in the 4th quarter. Buffalo took the lead for the first time with less than 4 minutes left to play in the game. Despite the loss, the Giants may find things from that game to build on and give them confidence.

However, the Giants have struggled to score touchdowns on offense this season, and have been ravaged by injuries. They are expected to start their 3rd-string left tackle and other backup offensive linemen. The status of Daniel Jones is up in the air, and Tyrod Taylor may get his second consecutive start. In any event, Saquon Barkley should be healthy enough to play, and any time he is in the lineup, the Giants seem to play tougher.

Washington has stayed relatively healthy this season, though they lost tight end Armani Rodgers in training camp, and two interior defensive tackles at the start of the season. One of those tackles, Efe Obada, just returned from IR, but two safeties, Darrick Forrest and 2022 Special Teams All-Pro Jeremy Reaves, went onto the reserve list prior to the Week 6 game against Atlanta. No one on the Commanders’ active roster has been ruled out of this week’s game in New York.

Objectively, Washington should win this game, but the burgundy & gold has failed against the Giants too many times in recent seasons for many people to take this game for granted.

National Survey Results

SB Nation sends out surveys to NFL fans of all 32 teams on a weekly basis during the season. Fans are asked several questions, and are always asked to predict game outcomes for the coming week. This week, as usually happens, they have already been proven right by the outcome of the Thursday night game in which the Jaguars secured a 7-point win over the Saints

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These fans are picking Washington to prevail this week over the New York Giants, who are home underdogs. Regardless of the outcome of any of Sunday’s games, there will be no change in the order of teams in the NFC East; Washington will finish the week as the #3 team in the division, the Eagles will remain in first place, and the Giants will remain in last place.

The NFC East

While all 4 teams are locked into their respective positions in the division at least for this week, if the predictions of the SB Nation readership come to pass, then things with the Eagles, Cowboys and Commanders could get very interesting.

  • Dallas has a bye this week, so they will go into Week 8 with a 4-2 record.
  • The NFL fans polled by SB Nation predict that the Miami Dolphins will get the upset win against the favored Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Stadium on Sunday Night Football.

If the Commanders win & Eagles lose as predicted in the Reacts national survey, then the standings would look like this by Monday:

In this scenario, entering Week 8, Washington would be a half-game behind Dallas and one game behind the Eagles.

A potential 3-way horse race

Week 8 and 9 offer intriguing matchups for NFC East fans.

  • Washington hosts Philly in Week 8. A win by Washington would create a tie between the Eagles and Commanders, with both teams at 5-3, having split their series 1-1. Because Washington would have the better division record (2-1 vs 1-1) the Commanders would temporarily hold the tie breaker advantage.
  • In Week 9, the Eagles and the Cowboys play each other, while Washington plays the (currently) 1-5 Patriots.

In other words, if Washington can beat a pair of 1-5 teams and get the home win against Philadelphia next week, they could potentially be sitting atop the NFC East division and part of a very tight 3-horse race heading into the final 8 games of the 2023 regular season.

Of course, for any of that to come to pass, they have to start by taking care of business in the Meadowlands on Sunday afternoon.

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