The Washington Commanders have the second-longest playoff win drought among NFC teams, dating back to 2006. Consistent frustration has been the recent norm for a once-proud franchise that won three Super Bowls from 1982 to 1991.
Better times are ahead for the team, though, and simply appearing in a postseason game can officially mark the beginning of a new chapter.
Wagering on Washington has been a regular action to avoid, but I lay out the reasons why you should consider taking the Commanders at +300 odds to make the NFL playoffs at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Commanders 2023 Season Outlook
10 Reasons Why Washington Can Make the Playoffs
- The Dan Snyder Era Is Over: While the roster has not been significantly overhauled on the field, the fact that there is new ownership guiding the team should change the dynamics throughout the franchise. Success in pro sports usually emanates from the top down, and with Josh Harris and his partners (including Magic Johnson) taking over, a renewed atmosphere of optimism should spread down to the field.
- Fan Enthusiasm Will Return: Based on the first factor, more Washington fans will now have the motivation to return to home games after staying away more during recent seasons. The Commanders ranked last in the NFL in attendance in 2022, but with the future looking brighter, Washington can start to recapture the tremendous home environment of the 1980s and some of the 90s.
- Eric Bieniemy: The former Kansas City offensive wizard now gets his opportunity to call plays, which he never did under Andy Reid previously. The Washington offense, which sagged down the stretch in 2022, has already demonstrated more promise in the preseason, and Bieniemy needs to put on a good showing to strengthen his case for a future head coaching position.
- Ron Rivera: While he is under significant pressure to deliver a successful season, Rivera kept the team within close distance of a winning record in his first three seasons in Washington. Now, with outside distractions lifted and the arrival of Bieniemy as an important assistant, the 13th-year head coach may be able to get his team over the barrier and into the postseason.
- Sam Howell: Yes, the second-year quarterback can at least perform respectably for Bieniemy, as he has displayed some potential in the preseason and is equipped with a good supporting cast. Howell’s draft stock faltered in his final season at North Carolina, but we have seen glimpses of the better version of the 2022 fifth-round pick, as he has looked poised, confident, and mobile while making some impressive throws.
- The Playmakers: Washington ranked 12th in rushing offense last season and can be better this year. Brian Robinson Jr. is coming off a healthy offseason, and Antonio Gibson may be less prone to getting banged up as he shares a lot of work while also being a factor as a pass-catcher. Once Terry McLaurin returns from a turf toe injury, the receiving crew he rounds out with second-year man Jahan Dotson and versatile weapon Curtis Samuel should be formidable, and either Logan Thomas or Cole Turner can contribute adequately at tight end.
- The Defensive Line: This is one of the NFL’s premier units. Daron Payne, Montez Sweat, and Jonathan Allen combined for 27 sacks last season, and the defensive line was a big reason why the Commanders ranked third in team defense. If Chase Young rediscovers his best form again this season, this group might be even scarier, if that is possible.
- The Secondary: Washington’s secondary ranked fifth in Pro Football Focus coverage grades in 2022, with an 82.5 mark. Kendall Fuller remains a solid presence at one cornerback spot, and 2023 first-round pick Emmanuel Forbes can be an instant impact performer on the other side. Kamren Curl is an established force at strong safety, and free safety Darrick Forest is coming off a breakthrough season.
- The NFC Is Wide Open: While the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers should be front-runners again, the rest of the conference is devoid of elite teams. In Washington’s division, the Dallas Cowboys always find a way to disappoint, and the New York Giants may have overachieved last year. (Check out the latest NFC East betting odds.) There is no proven contender in the NFC North, the NFC South is weak, and the Seattle Seahawks are the only other likely playoff team in the NFC West, so there is certainly room for the Commanders to qualify for the postseason.
- Finishing The Job: In 2022, Washington was in the postseason hunt at 7-5, but the offense melted in the final weeks. With a better offensive outlook this season and a returning strong core on defense, the Commanders have a legitimate shot to at least procure the final wild-card berth in the NFC.