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NFL Power Rankings: A blowout loss drops the Washington Commanders

Washington’s blowout home loss to Buffalo was ugly

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NFL: Buffalo Bills at Washington Commanders Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Commanders were 2-0 and coming home to face the Buffalo Bills. Last week, some of the more skeptical in the power ranking community had reluctantly moved Washington up from the bottom of their lists. After the Bills dominated Washington, forcing five turnovers and sacking Sam Howell nine times, they are gleefully putting them back in their place...or lower.

When you lose as badly as the Commanders did, giving up 37 points and only scoring a FG on the final drive, you’re going to get a lot of people saying “Same old Washington”. If Ron Rivera, Eric Bieniemy, the offensive line, and Sam Howell can’t fix the sack and turnover problem, that will be a very true statement, and new owner Josh Harris will be looking to clean house top-to-bottom. If they can actually learn and adapt after that piss-poor showing, they’ve got the talent to push for a playoff spot this year. Right now they are the team that got all of their

DraftKings still has dropped the Over/Under for Washington’s team win total back to 6 12 after it had creeped up to 7 12 after the 2-0 start. Washington opened as 7-point road underdogs against the Philadelphia Eagles, but that line has already jumped up to 9.

High: 14

Low: 28

Average: 20.2



Last Week: 19


CBS Sports(Prisco)

Was that loss to the Bills who the Commanders really are as a team? Sam Howell looked bad, throwing four picks and getting sacked nine times. Not a good sign. Last week: 8

Touchdown Wire(Bailey)

Well that was ugly, wasn’t it. The Commanders’ offense didn’t just come back down to Earth, they plummeted like D.B. Cooper out of a plane after a heist. They have their first of two matchups with the Eagles this coming weekend. Last week: 12


Yahoo Sports(Schwab)

Sacks are often blamed on the offensive line, but it’s at least as much of a quarterback stat. Sam Howell has taken 19 sacks, six more than any other quarterback. He’s on pace to shatter the record of 76, set by David Carr in 2002. Howell does some good things, but if he can’t figure out how to process and get rid of the ball quicker, he’s not going to make it as a starter in the NFL. Last week: 17


“That boy is an I-N-T.” Last week: 15

NFL SpinZone(Scataglia)

Sam Howell and the Washington Commanders are more like their Week 3 self than their Week 2 self. Sam Howell and the offense were embarrassed in Week 3 and I don’t really see this team going far in 2023. The one week hype with Sam Howell was fun while it lasted, though. Last week: 10



Offensive efficiency: 31.3 (20th)

Biggest issue on offense: Pass protection

Sam Howell has been sacked an NFL-high 19 times — six more than any other quarterback. He’s been pressured on 36.6% of his passes, fifth highest — this despite being blitzed only 20.3% of the time, second lowest. After a nine-sack game, Bills defenders said they noticed he holds the ball too long at times. But it extends beyond that: The line has not protected him well enough; he’s getting hit after he throws too often. Other times it’s a slower developing play that leads to trouble with no receiver open or looking back before he’s sacked. — John Keim Last week: 12


Bleacher Report

Believe it or not, Commanders quarterback Sam Howell came into Washington’s Week 3 matchup with the Buffalo Bills having never lost a start in the NFL.

That streak is over.

Bluntly put, Howell was atrocious against the Bills. It wasn’t entirely his fault as Washington’s offensive line was abused by Buffalo to the tune of nine sacks. But Howell threw four interceptions in the game and posted a passer rating of 41.5.

Despite the awful performance, Commanders receiver Terry McLaurin came to the defense of his quarterback while talking to reporters after the game.

“I just let him know that we’ve still got his back,” McLaurin said. “He’s still growing at the quarterback position, being our QB1. At the same time, he holds himself to a high standard and we hold him to a high standard. I know he is going to look at himself in the mirror and see how he can get better. It was a tough day for all of us, not just him. You’re going to have tough days at the office. Some uglier than others. But that’s what makes this grind so much sweeter. When you correct the thing you did wrong and next week you’re able to show improvement.”

Things don’t get any easier from here—next week the Commanders travel to Philadelphia to face the Eagles.

And if Howell has another game like Week 3, the calls for Jacoby Brissett to take over under center are going to start. Last week: 15


Pro Football Network(Miller)

Sam Howell took his lumps today against an outstanding Buffalo defense. Young players develop differently. Will throwing four interceptions and being sacked nine times become a learning experience for Howell, or will it cripple his confidence early in his second NFL season? Last week: 14


The Commanders rallied from 18 points down in the second quarter to surprise the Broncos at Denver a week ago. Now the team faced its second straight interconference opponent as they hosted the explosive Bills. It proved to be a long afternoon for Ron Rivera’s team, which trailed 10-0 after one quarter and never mounted a challenge.

Quarterback Sam Howell was sacked nine times and threw four interceptions. Washington was limited to 230 total yards. Rivera’s club avoided a shutout when Joey Slye kicked a 51-yard field goal with only 46 seconds to play. Last week: 10

Clutch Points(Johrendt)

The honeymoon period for Sam Howell and the Washington Commanders has finally worn off, and it was at the hands of the Buffalo Bills and a 37-3 drubbing. Four interceptions and five total turnovers doomed this team, and the defense was unable to stop much of anything on Sunday. Last week: 17


When Sam Howell is pressured, the results are disastrous. Eric Bieniemy can get creative with his schemes and the Washington Commanders receiving corps is still great, but everything falls apart if the pocket isn’t clean. Even if you’re willing to put that aside, because of Howell’s positive moments, Washington’s defense is becoming a new problem. Last week: 15

The Score

The game against the Bills was ugly, but Eric Bieniemy looks like he could be one of the offseason’s best hires. Bieniemy has found ways to get Brian Robinson going often, with the tailback currently sixth in rushing. Last week: 18

New York Post(Dunleavy)


The Athletic(Kendall)

The wheels came flying off the Sam Howell bandwagon Sunday. The fifth-round pick was 11th in the league in passing yards through two weeks (501). He had three touchdowns and one interception, and the Commanders were 2-0. Then Howell threw four interceptions against the Bills. Only five quarterbacks have thrown that many this season (and two of those are Justin Fields and Zach Wilson). Howell has been pressured on a league-high 15.4 percent of his dropbacks, but plenty of that is on him for holding the ball too long. Last week: 12

Sporting News(Iyer)

The Commanders crashed to earth against the Bills at home with Sam Howell wilting against a good defense and the fundamental issues with pass rush and coverage breaking down on the other side, too. Last week: 16


Fox Sports(Helman)

Is it even fair to call that a measuring stick game? It felt more like the Commanders weren’t tall enough to go on the ride. There’s still plenty of reason for good vibes in Washington, but a 37-3 beatdown is a not-so-gentle reminder of the difference between fun stories and true contenders. Last week: 17


It was surprising to see Sam Howell force as many bad passes and take as many sacks as he did against Buffalo, even taking into account his lack of experience (and knowing the biggest knock on him coming out of North Carolina was that he needed to feel pressure better). He straight up held onto the ball for ages on a few of his nine sacks Sunday, and while two of the four picks came with Washington facing a big deficit, this was as poorly as we’ve seen Howell play. It also should be concerning that both lines of scrimmage were owned by the Bills. Buffalo dominating Washington’s O-line wasn’t a shock. As for the Commanders’ defensive line, though, Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen and Chase Young generated some pressure, but it certainly wasn’t enough to turn the game in Washington’s favor. Last week: 19


The 33rd Team(Reynolds)

Buffalo sent the Washington Commanders back to reality last week. Sam Howell was a nonfunctional quarterback with four interceptions and nine sacks taken against Buffalo’s defense. The only true strength of this team is its pass rush. Last week: 21


USA Today(Davis)

They – namely QB Sam Howell (4 INTs) – got exposed in a 37-3 rout by Buffalo … but at least they staved off the first shutout of the Ron Rivera era with a last-minute field goal. Yawn. Last week: 23


Last week: 17


The Ringer

A solid top-to-bottom roster with a gigantic question mark at quarterback. Last week: 21

The Lines

The Commanders had to rally to beat the Cardinals and Broncos over the first two weeks, and they never got off the mat against a true heavyweight in the Bills. Last week: 24


Sports Illustrated(Orr)

I think there’s a world where Sam Howell’s end of first quarter drive against the Bills goes a different way and we’re talking about a non-blowout. He was hurling some darts into the core of Buffalo’s defense. That said, it’s impossible to draw too much from a bottom-tier team getting boat raced by Josh Allen on a heater. That’s going to happen to 20 different teams on this given Sunday in the same place. Last week: 17


Team Rankings

Last week: 24





Where should the Washington Commanders be ranked going into Week 4?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Top 12
    (9 votes)
  • 15%
    (49 votes)
  • 49%
    (157 votes)
  • 23%
    (76 votes)
  • 8%
    (28 votes)
319 votes total Vote Now