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NFL Power Rankings: The Washington Commanders keep winning, but people aren’t buying in...yet

Welcome to the middle of the pack at 2-0

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NFL: Washington Commanders at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Commanders are 2-0 for the first time since 2011, and people really don’t know how to feel about that. A lot of power rankers have been reluctantly, and slowly, moving Washington up their boards, but you can tell they are waiting for the first loss to slide them all the way back down to the bottom of the league. Washington has defeated the Cardinals and Broncos to start the year, and that’s not going to excite many people, but the Commanders looked better in Week 2, and against better competition.

DraftKings still has the Over/Under for Washington’s team win total at 6 12 this year. That number has creeped up to 7.5 after the 2-0 start. Washington returns to FedEx Field on Sunday and will host the Buffalo Bills. They opened as 6 point home underdogs, and will need to clean up some mistakes from the last two games. The Bills are beatable, but when they’re on, they’re one of the best teams in the league.

High: 8

Low: 24

Average: 16


CBS Sports(Prisco)

They are 2-0 after rallying to beat the Broncos. Sam Howell came up big to bring his team back, which is a good sign. Last week: 14



Ron Rivera’s club made its way to Denver looking for the franchise’s first 2-0 start since 2011. The Commanders fell behind 21-3 in the second quarter but were down by just seven points at intermission. Rivera’s team dominated the second half. Brian Robinson Jr. finished the game with 87 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns.

Sam Howell overcame four sacks and threw for 299 yards and two scores. Washington came up with seven sacks of Russell Wilson. Finally, Washington thwarted Denver’s game-tying two-point conversion attempt with no time left. Last week: 19

NFL SpinZone(Scataglia)

The Washington Commanders’ Week 1 win wasn’t impressive. They squeaked by the worst team in football by four points, but they showed a ton of toughness in Week 2 against the Denver Broncos, erasing an 18-point deficit and hanging 35 points on the Broncos. Sam Howell looked like an NFL quarterback in Week 2. Last week: 24



Player: DE Montez Sweat

Current contract situation: Under contract through the 2023 season

Sweat and fellow end Chase Young will be free agents after the season. But Washington has made it clear the Commanders would like to extend Sweat, playing on his fifth-year option, at some point. Any movement toward an extension, though, was slowed by the ownership change with the group having more urgent matters to focus on. Sweat has been a terrific edge run defender, but his highest sack total is nine. However, through two games this season, Sweat has two sacks and two forced fumbles. He’s learning from assistant line coach Ryan Kerrigan, the franchise’s all-time sack leader. “RK has been helping him to finish at the top of the rush,” said defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina. “He’s doing a hell of a job doing it.” — John Keim Last week: 21

The Athletic(Kendall)

Maybe it’s smoke. Maybe it’s mirrors. Maybe it’s playing Arizona and Denver. But it’s not offense that has Washington undefeated. Running back Brian Robinson had 87 grueling yards and two touchdowns Sunday, so maybe it’s a little bit of him. Last week: 16

Touchdown Wire(Bailey)

Sam Howell has looked like the best quarterback in the NFC East through two games. Let’s also give Eric Bieniemy his flowers for calling a great game to help complete an 18-point comeback on the road in Denver. The Commanders are for real, Ron Rivera won his 100th game, Sam Howell for President, Josh Harris for Congress- woah, okay. My apologies, I got carried away. Last week: 16


Pro Football Network(Miller)

Who had the Commanders’ matchup against the Broncos being a shootout? Who thought that the Commanders were capable of scoring 35 points?

The Commanders’ defense leaked in the first half and allowed some massive completions downfield, but the unit settled in in the second half.

Meanwhile, Sam Howell worked around his underwhelming offensive line. He did a nice job creating when the pocket broke down, although the young passer also must learn when to create and when to live to fight another day and avoid unnecessary sacks. Last week: 19




Eric Bieniemy’s star is rising. Last week: 20


It’s impossible not to think about what would’ve transpired if pass interference was called in the end zone on the two-point conversion. Yet, the Washington Commanders are 2-0 and that is monumental for their playoff odds. We’ll hold off on moving the Commanders up until they prove themselves in Week 3 against the Buffalo Bills. Last week: 16

Bleacher Report

The Washington Commanders haven’t exactly piled up the style points in doing so, but two weeks in the Commanders are undefeated after coming back to beat the Broncos in Denver.

The Commanders trailed 21-3 but stormed back to take a 35-24 lead. Washington then had to hold on for dear life and stop a two-point conversion attempt after Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson completed a Hail Mary at the end of the game to give the Broncos a chance to tie the game.

What some might call a sloppy affair, Commanders quarterback Sam Howell viewed as a sign of resiliency while speaking to reporters after the game.

“This is a resilient team,” Howell said. “The thing I’m proud of is we had each other’s back on both sides of the ball.”

There were some encouraging signs for Washington. Young running back Brian Robinson amassed 129 total yards and scored twice. In his first game action of 2023, edge-rusher Chase Young logged 1.5 sacks.

The question for these Commanders now is whether they can get a victory against a good team—their first two opponents this year are a combined 0-4. We’re about to find out the answer to that question—Washington hosts the Buffalo Bills next week before traveling to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles. Last week: 25


Sporting News(Iyer)

The Commanders are also 2-0 and have seemed to close the QB talent gap the division with Sam Howell joining Hurts, Prescott and Daniel Jones. The defense is up and down but Ron Rivera made the right call with Eric Bieniemy. Last week: 18


Yahoo Sports(Schwab)

Sam Howell has a long way to go as a quarterback. For starters, he holds the ball way too long. But he also has an innate playmaking ability. He brought the Commanders back from a 21-3 deficit with 299 yards passing. This 2-0 start hasn’t been pretty for the Commanders but there are some positive signs. Last week: 21

Sports Illustrated(Orr)

This should be a victory lap week for the Commanders. Like the Buccaneers, we have no idea where this is going. Teams start 2-0 all the time. But this staff and roster deserve a little bit of time in the sun. Playing under a new ownership group can be a nightmare, even for the most tenured and secure of head coaches. For Eric Bieniemy, venturing out on his own and betting his career on Sam Howell was also an incredible risk. And yet, the Commanders are fifth in first downs picked up and fifth in rushing touchdowns. They’re also in the top 10 in passing touchdowns and fewest interceptions thrown. I would happily be wrong to see the rebooted Washington Football Team somehow scale the NFC East. Last week: 28

Fox Sports(Helman)

This pass rush is going to keep the Commanders in a lot of games. If Sam Howell can step up and be an active part of the offense, as he was in Denver, then the ceiling for this team becomes appreciably higher. There’s a huge opportunity to show exactly how legit they are on deck, as the Bills come to town for Week 3. Last week: 23

Clutch Points(Johrendt)

An undefeated start to their 2023 season was likely not on a lot of people’s bingo cards for the Washington Commanders, but their climb up the NFL Power Rankings reflects a little bit of faith for this team. Sam Howell has looked the part so far this year, and the defense has kept opponents rattled, a combination that will help keep this team in games, at least to start the season. Last week: 21



The Score

Opening the season with games against the Cardinals and Broncos is about as easy as it gets, but give credit where it’s due: The Commanders are much improved. Eric Bieniemy’s offense is going to give this team a chance. Last week: 20


The Commanders are 2-0 for the first time in a dozen years. Coming back from down 18 on the road and going on a 32-6 scoring run are pretty positive signs; Sunday’s win over Denver was far more impressive than the smaller comeback against the lesser Cardinals at home in Week 1. Washington has played better in the second halves of games than in the first. That pattern might work against Arizona and Denver, but will it stand up against the Bills in Week 3? What gives the Commanders a chance is the play of Sam Howell. Kid has some guts, doesn’t he? After some empty series early, he was battered around, but Howell was dialed in down the stretch, confidently leading five scoring drives in the final 32 minutes. Last week: 21


The Ringer

Last week: 27


USA Today(Davis)

Sam Howell is the first Washington quarterback to win his first three career starts in the Super Bowl era. That’s included a pair of fourth-quarter comebacks in this season’s 2-0 debut. Still, concerns remain about what’s going on before the fourth quarter and the level of opposition those struggles are occurring against. Last week: 26


The Lines

Washington came roaring back from a 21-3 deficit and outlasted the Broncos, 35-33, with Sam Howell hitting 10 different receivers en route to a career-high 299 passing yards. Last week: 29

Team Rankings


Where should the Washington Commanders be ranked going into Week 3?

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