Commanders eliminated from playoff contention after loss, Packers and Lions wins

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Commanders eliminated from playoff contention originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Washington Commanders' 2022 campaign will end next week at home against Dallas.

Following Sunday's loss to the Cleveland Browns and victories by the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers, the Commanders were officially eliminated from postseason contention for a second straight season.

Washington (7-8-1) entered Week 17 in control of its own playoff destiny: win the next two games and the No. 7 seed was theirs. The Commanders couldn't take care of business against the lowly Browns, which cracked the door open for Detroit and Green Bay to jump over Washington in the standings with wins on Sunday.

The Commanders' chaotic 2022 season can best be described in three parts. With quarterback Carson Wentz under center, the Commander stumbled to a 1-4 record over their first five games. Playoffs were a mere afterthought at that point.

In Week 6, Wentz fractured his right ring finger in Washington's win over Chicago, which sidelined him for several weeks. Backup Taylor Heinicke stepped in his place and led the Commanders to five wins in his first six starts, including an epic Monday Night Football victory over the previously undefeated Philadelphia Eagles.

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Heinicke's magic wore out over the past month, however. The Commanders tied the Giants before their Week 14 bye week and then lost to that same New York squad at home following the week off. In Week 15, Washington hung with San Francisco for the first half but ultimately let the game slip away over the final 30 minutes. Wentz replaced Heinicke in the fourth quarter of that game and then was named the starter for this Sunday's eventual loss to Cleveland.

With the Commanders officially out of postseason contention, the team could turn to rookie Sam Howell at quarterback for the regular season finale against Dallas. The Cowboys still have plenty to play for, as they can win the NFC East with a win over Washington and an Eagles loss. Howell, a fifth-round pick in 2022, has yet to make his NFL debut.

After another disappointing finish to a season under Ron Rivera, the Commanders enter the 2023 offseason with a ton of questions. Rivera's job seems safe, but will he make changes to his staff? Will Wentz return in 2023, and if he does, will his contract be reworked? Heinicke is a free agent and his future with the club remains uncertain as well. And, this all goes without mentioning that owner Dan Snyder is currently exploring the potential sale of the franchise.

The questions will ultimately have answers in the coming weeks. But for now, the sting of letting another postseason berth slip way is what stings the most inside the doors in Ashburn.