As the 2022 NFL season inches closer, NBC Sports Washington’s Pete Hailey and Ethan Cadeaux take a look at a handful of betting props surrounding the Washington Commanders. Next up: will Washington make the playoffs?
The Bet: Will the Commanders make the playoffs? (Yes +165 | No -200, odds via PointsBet USA)
Throughout Pete and I’s Commanders Pressing Questions series, I largely took the optimistic viewpoint on every topic. There’s no reason for me to stop now.
The Commanders to make the playoffs in 2022, especially at +165 odds (a $100 bet would net you $165), is a great bet. No, I’m not telling you it’s a guaranteed lock — a major injury, or something along those lines, could significantly change this. But based on pure value, this bet is certainly worth a sprinkle.
Washington won seven games in 2021 despite playing one of the NFL’s hardest schedules. The Commanders encountered a quarterback gauntlet last fall, as Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Russell Wilson, and Justin Herbert all faced the Burgundy and Gold.
The Commanders have a much easier schedule this fall based on their opponents’ 2021 win percentage. But more importantly, Washington doesn’t have a handful of Pro Bowl caliber quarterbacks on its docket. There are no games against Mahomes, Allen, Herbert, Wilson or Brady this year. Outside of one game against Rodgers’ Packers, Washington avoids facing many of the game’s top signal-callers in 2022.
On offense, the Commanders should take a step forward with Carson Wentz under center. Wentz is far from perfect; there’s a reason this is his third team in as many years. But based on talent alone, he’s a significant upgrade over Taylor Heinicke. Plus, Wentz’s arm talent should allow offensive coordinator Scott Turner to open up the playbook in ways he’s yet to be able to do so.
Defensively, Washington returns almost its entire starting unit from a year ago minus Landon Collins. Last year, several of the team’s additions — especially prized free-agent signing William Jackson III and first-round pick Jamin Davis -—struggled to grasp Jack Del Rio’s system. Both players, along with everyone else on the defense, should only feel more comfortable now with a year under their belt.
Questions remain on both sides of the football for Washington. On offense, Wentz must perform. It’s that simple. The group also needs another playmaker to step up and take some of the load off Terry McLaurin. On defense, depth remains a question mark on all three levels. Besides the safety position, every defensive position group could be in trouble of injuries start to pile up.
Still, though, I like Washington’s chances to make the playoffs. With the expanded Wild Card, it will likely only take nine wins to punch a postseason ticket. With several teams with worse records than Washington from a year ago on the schedule, the Commanders must take advantage and win the games they’re supposed to win. I believe they’ll win just enough contests to sneak into one of the final Wild Card spots.
I absolutely think the Commanders are worth a shot at +165 to make the playoffs. The quarterback change, the softer-looking (as of now) schedule and the hope for better injury luck/no late-year COVID outbreak (two things that were detrimental to the 2021 squad’s chances) are all indicators that Washington could be due for mid-January football.
However, I’d prefer going about this with a different strategy, one that is less straightforward but feels more cheeky. Plus, I get to talk like a real degenerate, which is always a fun thing to do at one’s job.
Follow me for a bit.
We know that the NFC East hasn’t had a repeat champion since 2004, and while all trends must end someday, I’m willing to ride that in 2022, which means the Cowboys are worth fading.
The Eagles, meanwhile, are +175 to win the division, while the Commanders are hanging out at +500. Then there are the Giants at +700, but I’m not going to include them because I refuse to believe that Daniel Jones can win anything significant, save for a boring haircut contest.
So, instead of betting on the Commanders to qualify for the postseason at +165, it may be worthwhile to split up that action into halves, with one half going on Philly to capture the NFC East and the other going on Washington to do so. If one of those two franchises come through, you’re guaranteed a profit.
Here’s how that shakes out…
- In a scenario where one drops $10 on both the Eagles and the Commanders to finish first in the division and the former occurs, that person finishes up $7.50 (that’s what an Eagles’ crown would return, while the $10 from the Commanders’ side of the action is gone).
- In a scenario where one drops $10 on both the Eagles and the Commanders to finish first in the division and the latter occurs, that person finishes up $50 (that’s what a Commanders’ crown would return, while the $10 from the Eagles’ side of the action is gone).
Hopefully some of you are still here, because I sort of think this is the most brilliant approach ever. Of course, that means New York is going to go 14-3, but for right now, I’m pleased with myself.
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