Friday, September 8, 2023

Washington Commanders Week 1 NFL Power Rankings Roundup

Throughout the 2023 NFL season, we will compile a consensus NFL Power Rankings that averages the rankings of all 32 NFL teams.

Below you will find a Week 1 roundup for the Washington Commanders in our consensus 2023 NFL Power Rankings.

ESPN -- Rank: 25

On the hot seat: Coach Ron Rivera

The truth is, everyone in the front office is on the hot seat, as is team president Jason Wright. With new ownership and a franchise that hasn't won a playoff game since 2005, no one should feel safe. But Rivera is the main football decision-maker -- he was handed the power from previous owner Dan Snyder and put together the front office. It's his fourth season in Washington; he won an NFC East title his first year, but the team has yet to finish with a winning record under him. Washington hasn't posted a winning record since 2016. -- John Keim -- Rank: 23

Defensively, this team should be very tough. The pass rush could be lethal if Chase Young ever gets healthy and figures it out. The secondary looks versatile and talented. Linebacker doesn't excite me, but it's hard to gripe too much. If Sam Howell can somehow have a 2022 Geno Smith type of season, why can't the Commanders make the playoffs? It would be a fitting development amid an ownership change, one that has rendered more excitement than the franchise has enjoyed in years. There's pressure on Ron Rivera to win now, one might imagine. But it's also surely there for offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who must know how much a successful season could mean for his career.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 13

This season is all about Sam Howell, and I think he will be better than many expect. The defense will be nasty. They will be a playoff team.

USA Today -- Rank: 24

QB Sam Howell is one of this season's bigger X-factors league-wide ... and will almost certainly determine if Washington contends or simply needs a brand-name passer in 2024 to do so.

The Athletic -- Rank: 25

Best-case scenario: Surprise, but this turns out to be the best defense in the league. Like the Jets, Washington should be looking at some positive turnover luck coming its way after finishing last season sixth in defensive EPA per drive and first in defensive success rate but 26th in takeaways. The foursome of Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Montez Sweat and Chase Young (finally healthy) turns into the best group in the NFL, while Emmanuel Forbes proves his penchant for interceptions in college was no coincidence. Ron Rivera keeps his job with an NFC East title as the good juju of finally ousting Daniel Snyder leads the greater Beltway area to embrace the undeniable charisma of Josh Harris.

Worst-case scenario: Sam Howell looks like a second-year fifth-round pick with only one start under his belt (what a wild track record for a starter!) and Jacoby Brissett can't regain the efficiency he had in Cleveland. Terry McLaurin is never fully himself as he battles his turf toe injury, while the rest of the offense pitches in to buy a billboard on I-495 pleading with Eric Bieniemy to stop being so mean. The defense is just average and Harris fires Rivera in mid-December to get an early jump on the hiring cycle.

FOX -- Rank: 24

The Commanders remind me a lot of the Falcons. They have intriguing talent all over the roster, except the most important position of all. It would be quite a coup if Sam Howell turns into a player, because the rest of this team is ready. Washington boasts one of the most ferocious defensive fronts in the game, an underrated receiver duo of Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson as well as a talented secondary. Best-case scenario, Howell rises to the occasion and the Commanders surprise some people. Worst-case scenario, he doesn't and this new ownership regime knows what it needs to look for. Not a bad spot for an up-and-coming team, either way.

Yahoo! -- Rank: 23

The Commanders were right to give Sam Howell a shot, and the early returns are good. What if the draft projections before his final college season, when he was expected by some to be a top-five pick, were a better barometer than his depressed stock after a so-so final season at North Carolina? At very least, the Commanders should be excited to see how the story unfolds.

PFT -- Rank: 20

They could go 0-17 and the fans would still be happy about the departure of Daniel Snyder.

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