The Commanders’ loss to the 49ers was chaotic, but their path into the playoffs is simple

Commanders Loss To 49ers Was Crazy But Playoff Path Is Simple Originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

For the first half of Week 16, the Commanders and 49ers played even games. He was encouraging to Ron Rivera’s team.

In the last 30 minutes of the confrontation – and in particular in the last 15 – the superiority of San Francisco over Washington has emerged. It was upsetting for Ron Rivera’s team.

Yet despite the agonizing finish at Levi’s Stadium, Ron Rivera’s team should be comforted by one thing: a playoff trip is still entirely within reach.

In fact, if the Commanders defeat the Browns in Week 17 and the Cowboys in Week 18, they will be among the NFC’s seven postseason entrants.

Quarterback change or not, two-game losing streak or not, coaching criticism or not, that’s simply the truth.

That should take at least some of the sting in Washington out of the West Coast’s 37-20 result, even if, in certain stretches, there was the possibility of far more than consolation.

At the height of the contest, the Wild Card hope led her to the Super Bowl contender. Taylor Heinicke’s offense was uncharacteristically converting third and long and Jahan Dotson was dominating the field, while the defense, with a loaded Chase Young, kept the Niners down.

The momentum eventually disappeared, though, as did the poise Heinicke initially displayed against one of the most relentless drives in the sport. So, after a fumble and an interception, fourth quarter errors coming in quick succession, Rivera elected to throw Heinicke and insert Carson Wentz. Wentz, to his credit, was sharp on his first drive, capping it with a six run to Curtis Samuel.

In addition to that pivotal lineup adjustment, the tilt included a 71-yard touchdown run off a San Fran wideout, a score each by Dotson, Samuel, and Terry McLaurin, each team’s fourth down stop, and three other giveaways. Certainly there was no shortage of action in the Christmas Eve affair.

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Thanks to defeats by the Lions, Seahawks and Giants, fortunately the Commanders flop won’t cost him the rankings.

Given that, it’s not that luck should totally undo what happened on Sunday. Washington has been completely outplayed, likely to rely on a new signal caller, needs to figure out Kam Curl’s health, and eventually muster the energy to get past Cleveland and Dallas.

Regardless, there’s reason to remain somewhat optimistic that this team’s 2022 season will extend into mid-January. The only problem is that achieving this will require a rapid turnaround, and currently, the Commanders don’t necessarily seem ready to pull off such a turnaround.

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