2023 Washington Commanders Schedule
The annual anticlimax
The annual NFL schedule reveal is probably the most anti-climactic event of the year. First of all, fans know 14 of the 17 games that every NFL team will play for years in advance.
- Every NFL team plays 6 games per season against its division rivals (home & away)
- Every team in a division plays every team in another division within its conference on a rotating 3-year schedule.
- Every team in a division plays every team in another division in the opposing conference on a rotating 4-year schedule.
The other 3 games are determined at the end of the previous regular season. A team’s opponents in those three games will have finished in the same divisional ranking (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th place) — a game against an opponent from each of the remaining two in-conference divisions, and one against a non-conference division opponent (the “17th game” added last year), alternating home & away with the AFC home in odd years and the NFC home in even years, on a predetermined schedule of divisional pairings.
Even the home & away matchups are known long before the schedule release. This year, every NFC team plays 8 homes games, while every AFC team plays 9 home games. That’s one factor that could make this year’s schedule for NFC teams slightly tougher than last year’s.
In the end, today is really only about dates, times and bye weeks.
When you throw in the leaks that start appearing on Twitter as early as Tuesday or Wednesday, there’s not really much mystery left by the time of the official release at 8pm tonight; still, the NFL manages to turn it into a 3-hour TV event.
Video: How is the NFL Schedule Created? | NFL Explained
No fan is ever satisfied with his or her favorite team’s schedule; there’s always something (often many things) to complain about. Some fans wonder why the announcement of the schedule release date is sometimes delayed until the last minute (as it was this year). Putting the schedule together is incredibly complex. If you want to get the flavor of the complexity, watch the embedded video above.
The factors are crazy — stadium availability, holidays, travel distance, international games, television contracts — it’s mind boggling.
TV contracts, in particular, have changed this season, changing the dynamics of the schedule, but there have been other changes as well, such as the “Black Friday” games that will be played on the day after Thanksgiving. Also, teams are allowed to play two Thursday games this year, and, unlike recent seasons, not every team is guaranteed a prime-time game.
The Washington Commanders' 2023 schedule: pic.twitter.com/YjKCjdZL1g— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) May 12, 2023
Washington opens up with the Cardinals at home before getting one of the road games out west out of the way in Week 2 against the Broncos. This will be the sixth year in a row that Washington has started Week 1 with a new quarterback (Carson Wentz, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dwayne Haskins, Case Keenum, Alex Smith). With Kyler Murray recovering from injury, it’s possible that the opening week matchup could be Sam Howell vs Colt McCoy — two QBs with roughly the same arm strength.
After that Week 2 game in Denver, it’s all east coast games until Week 10, but with only 4 home games in those first 10 weeks. One of those home games is a primetime matchup against the Bears on Thursday night in Week 5.
The team has traditionally started slow under Ron Rivera (1-4, 2-3, 1-4 through 5 games) but the Commanders have a chance to re-write the script in 2023. Four of the team’s first six games are against teams that went a combined 19-49 last year, and their first two opponents (Cardinals and Broncos) have new coaches.
The Commanders play another Thursday game on Thanksgiving in Dallas in Week 12. Their 2016 Thanksgiving day game was FOX’s most watched game ever to that point.
The team gets a bye week in Week 14 — just like last year — before hopping a plane for another trip west to play the Rams in Week 15, before returning to the east coast, where they will play the Jets on Christmas Eve, finishing the season with two home games against two of the NFC’s better teams from 2022, the 49ers and the Cowboys.
The Western games (Broncos, Seahawks, Cowboys, Rams) are all in the late-afternoon window, but all other games except the TNF matchup against the Bears and the Week 18 game at home against Dallas (which will be determined later) will be on Sundays at 1pm.
Washington plays back-to-back road games 3 times during the season.
Based on last year’s record, the Commanders face opponents with a .536 win percentage — ranking as the 8th toughest schedule in the NFL — the Eagles slate of opponents is ranked as the toughest.
Commanders have a 23-day stretch starting Black Friday where they’ll only play once. We have the road game against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, followed by 10 days off, then home vs. the Dolphins on December 3rd. The bye adds another 14 days off until the next game against the Rams in LA, when the Washington players should be fully rested.
The dates and times for two of the preseason games have yet to be determined, but two of the three will be at home, and all of them are against AFC North opponents (Browns, Ravens, Bengals).