Calling all bettors! The 2022 Washington Commanders were somehow one win away from reaching the playoffs. How dramatically might they improve in 2023 in their quest for a Super Bowl title? And more pressingly, how will free agency and the upcoming NFL draft impact their championship hopes? The following betting odds are based on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Washington Commanders Super Bowl 58 Odds and Futures
Last February’s early odds for Super Bowl 57 offered clues on what sportsbooks were thinking and how that wove into the thinking of the broader betting market.
For example, the Kansas City Chiefs were the favorite (+650 odds) for this year’s Super Bowl, while the Buffalo Bills were No. 2. Not too shabby as far as year-long predictions go.
But the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers were Nos. 3 and 4, respectively — though, in fairness, Davante Adams’ status in Green Bay remained unclear at that point. The Tennessee Titans (No. 9) and Denver Broncos (No. 10) clearly underwhelmed. The Eagles weren’t even in the top third.
The Commanders weren’t on the radar. They were coming off a campaign where “starting” QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was knocked out in Week 1, and two of their three top pass catchers (Curtis Samuel and Logan Thomas) missed a combined 21 games. No doubt, it was a team in transition, although they have two offensive anchors in Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin.
After retooling somewhat in the offseason, the betting markets still weren’t convinced, handing Washington +7600 odds (11th-worst in the league) to win Super Bowl 57.
And while their current odds of winning the next Super Bowl are slightly better (+7000), only six teams are bigger long shots. A relatively poor offseason could make their impressive 2022 run a distant memory.
As we assess if bettors should lean into these +7000 odds, let’s examine a few key takeaways from the Commanders’ 2022 campaign.
Brian Robinson, Antonio Gibson, and Other 2022 Season Takeaways
The Commanders were 1-4 and traveling to Chicago on short rest. After opening the season with seven passing TDs in two games, Carson Wentz had thrown for only three in the next three contests while committing four turnovers.
Each season features one or more defining games for each team — a matchup that cements or alters that team’s trajectory and sometimes those of its key players.
In that Thursday night game, Justin Fields finally ran wild, beginning a stretch of eight straight games with 60+ rushing yards. The Fields we know today has roots in a contest vs. a struggling Washington squad.
Conversely, that game was Wentz’s final start until Week 17, at which point his time in Washington was essentially over. A fractured finger sidelined him for weeks, during which Taylor Heinicke played better. Case closed.
And this game also marked Brian Robinson’s first start after he made his NFL debut four days earlier behind Gibson. Robinson, of course, had made a heroic return after getting shot in August. At the time, some questioned when, if ever, he’d return to the field. His presence in the backfield became a key to the Commanders’ ensuing success.
Washington would win six of those next seven games, putting them squarely in the postseason hunt before it all fell apart.
The reason the Commanders don’t have better 2023 odds stems, in part, from their continually evolving QB situation. Because the playoffs were within reach for most of the year, fifth-round rookie Sam Howell took a backseat. The team turned to him in Week 18, right after they’d been eliminated from playoff contention.
As a result, Washington’s surprising success put Howell’s development on hold. This franchise has no idea if he’s the right long-term fit. So, they must decide whether to try and sign one of the best available QBs, find a bridge QB to remain competitive, or continue a rebuild around Howell.
The good news is that their defense stepped up, yielding the seventh-fewest points per game while dramatically improving their pass D from the previous year.
Through the air, McLaurin had one of the quietest 77-1,191-5 receiving lines we’ll ever see, and Curtis Samuel stayed healthy enough to showcase why this team signed him two years ago. Meanwhile, first-round rookie Jahan Dotson alternated between raw and exceptional while battling through injuries.
Simply put, this receiving corps should give Washington hope as they search for a coveted top-20 quarterback.
But the big question I have concerns their backfield — seemingly a source of strength, yet not entirely secure. While Robinson ran a respectable 4.6 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, he netted only 3.9 yards per carry, a subpar 1.7 yards after contact, and a subpar broken-tackle rate of one per 25.6 carries.
And Gibson is entering the fourth year of his rookie contract, having declined in yards per carry each season, culminating in 3.7 yards per carry last year. Despite still being prolific in the passing game, he fared even worse than Robinson in yards after contact and broken tackles.
As a tandem, these two did just enough to sustain drives and contribute meaningfully to eight wins. But in 2023, we’ll need to see meaningful improvements if this franchise hopes to make another playoff run.
2023 Offseason Moves
Will the Commanders invest in another running back or receiver? Will they go all in on a high-ceiling rookie QB (or free agent signing)? A handful of key additions could make the Commanders dangerous.
Having the No. 16 overall draft pick puts them in an interesting position. At the same time, they might need to get a bit creative as salary cap issues loom.
NFL Free Agency
In the coming weeks, we’ll update this section with breaking news on key Commanders arrivals and departures through free agency and trades, how it impacts their Super Bowl odds, and how it might inform our decision to bet on them to somehow win it all.
In early May, we’ll update this section on key Commanders draft picks and UDFA signings, with an eye toward any instant-impact players who could help catapult them into Super Bowl consideration.