Washington Commanders 2022 schedule: friendly slate, Carson Wentz revenge matches

There’s genuine reason to be optimistic as Washington’s COs enter the 2022 season. Much of that sunny outlook, whether it’s expecting a resurgent Carson Wentz or the defense bouncing back from the crater last season requires a healthy dose of squinting – except with the calendar.

Washington enters the next campaign tied with Dallas for easiest schedule strength based on opponents’ winning percentage in 2021 (.462). This SOS variable played a big role in last season’s 7-10 record. After winning a division title, Ron Rivera’s team faced a first-place schedule and a gauntlet of star quarterbacks.

Teams make changes from year to year, injuries happen, etc., which means the past isn’t automatically prologue in the NFL. Either way, there are far fewer high-end passers on this cycle, although a certain four-time most valuable player remains in the role. The NFC East remains an ordinary division at best, and the schedule features six foes (seven games) that have finished in the league’s eight-worst record in 2021.

2022 Commanders Calendar

The week Date Opponent Time (ET)

1

September 11th

1 p.m.

2

September 18

to lions

1 p.m.

3

September 25

1 p.m.

4

October 2

at Cowboys

1 p.m.

5

October 9

1 p.m.

6

October 13

in the bears

8:20 p.m.

seven

October 23

1 p.m.

8

October 30

at Colts

4:25 p.m.

9

November 6

1 p.m.

ten

November 14

among the eagles

8:15 p.m.

11

November 20

among texans

1 p.m.

12

November 27

1 p.m.

13

December 4

among the giants

1 p.m.

14

Goodbye

15

December 17, 2018

To be determined

16

December 24

at 49ers

4:05 p.m.

17

January 1st

1 p.m.

18

January 7/8

To be determined

Week 1 keys to victory

Slow starts marked the first two seasons under Rivera. It showed in the team record – 3-9 in weeks 1-6 – but was most evident in the execution. The defense was particularly frustrating last season as poor communication and an inability to leave the field on third down hampered the effort.

The good news here is that the opener finished with the league’s worst record last season. Jacksonville averaged a league-low 14.9 points per game, and ranked 28th in points allowed (26.9). Although the Jaguars are about as unsexy a Week 1 opponent as COs can get, they have the last two No. 1 selections in the NFL Draft in defensive end Travon Walker and quarterback Trevor. Lawrence.

The price of the 2021 draft, Lawrence likely won’t end 2022 with more interceptions (17) than touchdown passes (12) like he did in 2021. Lawrence should benefit from the offseason change in mind offensive Doug Pederson, who will have a strategic battle against former Jaguars head coach and Washington defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.

Washington is 18-18 in Week 1 home games.

Game not to miss: at the Eagles (Week 10)

No need to overthink this. Wentz’s return to the City of Brotherly Love on Monday night is the call. It’s even during the Colts’ Week 8 game, despite the fact that Indianapolis, on the decline in ownership, openly shared their frustration with the QB last season.

Philadelphia traded in the 2016 draft to select Wentz at No. 2, and his near-MVP-level performance helped lead the Eagles to the 2017 Super Bowl, despite being injured when they won the Lombardi Trophy. The relationship soured from there, and Philadelphia took a staggering $35 million hit to leave Wentz after the 2020 season.

The fact that these two reunion matches take place over a 15-day period puts more of a focus on Wentz, if that’s even possible.

Hardest stretch: Weeks 3-5

There are three distinct stretches to consider, but the first stretch against three teams coming out of the playoffs is the one to watch. We’ve already mentioned the slow starts under Rivera, although opening with the two worst teams in the league is quite a giveaway. But after the Jaguars and Lions, the Commanders face their first two NFC East opponents of the season, followed by the Titans, last season’s top seed in the AFC.

Take two of those three here, and we could be looking at a 4-1 start. Flounder and Washington could quickly fall behind Philadelphia and Dallas and enter a tough midseason stretch under .500.

Games that have become more difficult: against and at the Eagles (weeks 3 and 10)

The Eagles received the schedule bump last season and rode it all the way to a playoff spot. Expecting a drop in 2022 made sense, especially with lingering questions about quarterback Jalen Hurts. Then the Eagles signed free-agent passer Haason Reddick, boldly traded for outstanding wide receiver in AJ Brown and advanced in the first round for massive defensive tackle Jordan Davis.

Combined with Hurts taking another step, those moves could keep Philly in the playoff picture despite more attention after a playoff appearance.

A Game the COs Can’t Afford to Lose: Against the Jaguars (Week 1)

I kind of want to tie the first two games together, given that the Lions are, well, the Lions. But losing the season opener at home to a team coming off a three-game winning season wouldn’t be ideal. Granted, Jacksonville won its last game, a Week 18 upset that knocked the Colts out of the playoff picture and effectively knocked Wentz out of Indianapolis.

Best offense Commanders will face: Against the Packers (Week 7)

Aaron Rodgers had an astonishing 37 touchdown passes with just four interceptions en route to winning MVP in 2021 for a second consecutive season and the fourth time in his career. That included three touchdowns in a Week 7 win over Washington. Admittedly, one of those touchdown passes went to Davante Adams, who now lives in Las Vegas. Rodgers, with running back Aaron Jones in the backfield, remains scary.

Best Defense Commanders Will Face: Against Titans (Week 5)

Tennessee, led by three Pro Bowlers in defensive lineman Jeffrey Simmons, setter Harold Landry and safety Kevin Byard, allowed 20.8 points per game last season, tied with Tampa Bay for fifth. It’s the stingiest unit Washington faces this season, just ahead of Dallas (21.1) and Indianapolis (21.5). The Titans also finished tied for ninth with 43 sacks. That doesn’t include the postseason record nine sacks in the playoff loss to Cincinnati.

Expected record: 9-8

Washington won seven games last season despite a brutal schedule, a defensive slump and the loss of its starting quarterback for the season before halftime in Week 1. Now it’s improved at QB, has the Easiest SOS entering the season and, well, the defense can’t play worse. The 14-week bye is nightmarish and means no respite if the injuries pile up, but that’s perhaps the biggest concern of this schedule.

Arrival NFC Est scheduled: third

How does Washington end with a winning record and only place third? The whole division is taking advantage of the schedule, for starters.

Dallas took a step back after trading wide receiver Amari Cooper and losing passing thrower Randy Gregory in free agency, but there’s still plenty to love about the defending division champions. Philadelphia’s season likely hinges on whether the quarterback sits at the top of its 2023 need list, while the New York Giants seek growth with a new coach and general manager – but still have Daniel Jones in the center.

If Wentz rivals Dak Prescott as the top quarterback in the division, or at least trumps Hurts, Washington could finish with its first winning season under Rivera. Should the defense, led by Chase Young and Jonathan Allen, rebound, the Commanders could join the list of NFC contenders. That’s a lot of ifs, but the low projected timeline helps make those dreams tangible.

(Photo by Antonio Gibson and JD McKissic: Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

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