Commanders’ Week 18 rooting guide

Week 18 is finally here. Fourteen NFL teams will begin preparing for the playoffs next week. The other 18 teams will get an early jump on the 2024 NFL offseason, with many teams expected to make coaching changes and others, front-office changes, too.

One of those teams is the Washington Commanders. New owner Josh Harris is expected to fire head coach Ron Rivera after Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Dallas Cowboys, something Rivera has expected for a while.

Additionally, Washington will hire a new general manager since Rivera has been the organization’s top decision-maker since 2020, with current GM Martin Mayhew reporting to him.

So, what does that mean for the Week 18 finale?

While the Cowboys are playing for the NFC East title and the No. 2 overall seed, the most significant thing at stake for the Commanders is the No. 2 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft.

That means nothing to the current staff or players. But it means everything for owner Josh Harris and Washington’s fan base. The upcoming draft has a few elite prospects, including two quarterbacks. Landing the No. 2 pick would ensure the Commanders one of those quarterbacks if they choose that route.

How can Washington clinch the No. 2 pick?

Well, it starts with losing on Sunday against the Cowboys. That should happen. However, Washington is tied with New England and Arizona with four wins. The Cardinals’ strength of schedule eliminates them from the No. 2 pick if all three teams lose on Sunday.

This likely comes down to the Commanders or Patriots. The Patriots play at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday against the New York Jets. New England is a slight favorite, having dominated the Jets over the years. Is this the week the Jets finally end that dominance?

If the Pats win, all Washington must do is lose against the Cowboys.

However, if the Patriots and Commanders lose, things get a little tricky.

The folks over at Tankathon have all the info you need on figuring out how the strength of schedule tiebreaker impacts Washington and New England.

Outside of the Commanders and Patriots, three games in particular will significantly impact the No. 2 pick. One of those games, the Saints vs. Falcons, could be the deciding factor.

The Commanders need the Saints to win. Also, the Packers and Raiders winning would also help Washington.

Two games on Saturday impacted the race for the No. 2 pick, but one went Washington’s way while the other went New England’s way, effectively negating both outcomes.

The Commanders need some help, but the most important factor is a Week 18 loss, which would be their eighth straight to end the season.

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire