Washington Commanders' 2022 schedule: Strong start is a must

Ron Rivera is entering his third season as Washington's coach. Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Commanders' 2022 schedule was released along with the rest of the NFL slate Thursday.

The 2022 NFL season will kick off on Thursday, Sept. 8 with the Los Angeles Rams hosting the Buffalo Bills at SoFi Stadium. ESPN opens its schedule with Monday Night Football on Sept. 12 featuring the Denver Broncos at the Seattle Seahawks.

The NFL expanded to 17 regular-season games last season. The final regular-season games for the 2022 season will be played Jan. 8, 2023. The playoffs begin Jan. 14 and continue through Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona.

Here's what's in store for the Commanders:


Sept. 11: vs. Jacksonville

Sept. 18: at Detroit

Sept. 25: vs. Philadelphia

Oct. 2: at Dallas

Oct. 9: vs Tennessee

Oct. 13: at Chicago (TNF)

Oct. 23: vs. Green Bay

Oct. 30: at Indianapolis

Nov. 6: vs. Minnesota

Nov. 14: at Philadelphia (MNF)

Nov. 20: at Houston

Nov. 27: vs. Atlanta

Dec. 4: at N.Y. Giants

Dec. 11: Bye

Dec. 17/18: vs. N.Y. Giants

Dec. 24: at San Francisco

Jan. 1: vs. Cleveland

Jan. 7/8: vs. Dallas

Strength of schedule: T-32nd, .462

Biggest takeaway

There are some tough spots early in the season for the Commanders with consecutive games against the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and Tennessee Titans, and late in the year when they play the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns and Dallas. All should be strong playoff contenders.

If the Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings are improved, that will result in another difficult stretch, coming off a game against the Green Bay Packers. However, it's a favorable schedule and should help set them up well in Ron Rivera's third season. There are unknowns -- how good will San Francisco quarterback Trey Lance be? Or Jacksonville Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence?

But they must start strong. They need to win at home against Jacksonville -- their first game under the name Commanders -- and they need to at least split their games against Philadelphia and Dallas. If they can start 3-1, they have a shot to win the NFC East.

Revenge game

Easy: Quarterback Carson Wentz going back to Philadelphia to play a Monday night game on Nov. 14. Of course, it could also be Wentz playing at Indianapolis two weeks prior. Both teams have traded Wentz in the past two offseasons. But the Eagles drafted him second overall in 2016, and as recently as the 2020 season he appeared destined for a long career in Philadelphia. He was replaced by Jalen Hurts late in 2020 and traded in the offseason. Now he will compete against Hurts. Playing at the Colts will be a tune-up for Wentz as the Eagles' game will have a bigger (and more vociferous) stage.

What the oddsmakers think

The oddsmakers have the Commanders' win total at 7.5. That would mean just a half win better than 2021 when injuries and COVID-19 derailed their season. They have upgraded at quarterback and should have a much better offense overall. Defensively, they don't face near the caliber of quarterbacks they did last season.

Bold prediction

Washington wins 10 games and makes the playoffs. The Commanders bolstered their offense with Wentz and first-round receiver Jahan Dotson. Defensively, this will matter: In 2021, they faced six quarterbacks who finished in the top 10 in total QBR and nine of the top 14. This season they face two who were in the top 10 last season and only five in the top 14.