Washington wasn’t originally scheduled to play a game in prime time last season for the first time since 1982, but with the NFC East title on the line in Week 17, the team’s regular season finale at Philadelphia was flexed to “Sunday Night Football.” Washington won that game, resulting in its first division crown since 2015 and, relevant for Ron Rivera’s hopes of improving upon last year’s 7-9 mark, a first-place schedule — now with 17 games! — for 2021.
My colleague Sam Fortier has the full story of Washington’s schedule, which includes three games in prime time, but in keeping with recent Bog tradition, here’s a week-by-week look at how excited I am for each game on a scale of one to five images of bearded WFT quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. He may make a few too many maddening decisions, but no one has ever accused the nomadic signal caller of being boring.
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 12 vs. L.A. Chargers (1 p.m. Eastern)
In what is slated to be the fourth Week 1 matchup to feature the reigning offensive and defensive rookies of the year, quarterback Justin Herbert and the Chargers visit defensive menace Chase Young and Washington in Brandon Staley’s NFL coaching debut. It’s the Chargers’ first trip to FedEx Field since fullback Darrel Young rushed for three touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime, in 2013, also known as three Philip Rivers kids ago.
Week 2: Thursday, Sept. 16 vs. N.Y. Giants (8:20 p.m.)
For the first time since 2016, Washington opens the season with consecutive home games. Washington has lost five straight to the Giants, including a 20-19 setback at MetLife Stadium last October when it went for a two-point conversion in the final minute rather than kicking an extra point to tie the score. Saquon Barkley should be back after tearing his ACL in Week 2 last season, which adds to the excitement of this prime-time matchup.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 26 at Buffalo (1 p.m.)
The Bills, led by quarterback Josh Allen and former Maryland star wide receiver Stefon Diggs, are one of six playoff teams on Washington’s schedule. Buffalo is also one of nine NFL cities Fitzpatrick has called home, and it’s where he first grew out his now legendary beard in 2009. “It really all started in Buffalo, when it was cold. I wanted to see if I could grow facial hair, and lo and behold it just kept growing,’’ Fitzpatrick, who played four seasons for the Bills, said in 2019.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3 at Atlanta (1 p.m.)
After a 4-12 season, the Falcons replaced coach Dan Quinn with former Titans offensive coordinator and Georgetown Prep graduate Arthur Smith. In a previous year, this matchup might’ve tested the loyalties of Smith’s dad, Fred, but after the former minority partner of the Washington Football Team sold his shares of the franchise to owner Daniel Snyder, here’s guessing the FedEx CEO will be rooting for his son’s Falcons to run up the score. #KyleSmithRevengeGame.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10 vs. New Orleans (1 p.m.)
The last time Washington hosted a Saints team that wasn’t quarterbacked by Drew Brees, Aaron Brooks outdueled Tim Hasselbeck in 2003. With Brees retired, expect Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill or rookie Ian Book to suit up at QB for New Orleans, which has won at least 11 games in four consecutive years.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 17 vs. Kansas City (1 p.m.)
It’s been 21 years since Washington played the defending AFC and NFC champions in the same season as they will this year, beginning with a visit from quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the high-octane Chiefs. Washington has lost seven straight to Kansas City, with its only win in the all-time series coming at RFK Stadium in 1983.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 24 at Green Bay (1 p.m.)
This game loses some of its luster if disgruntled Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is traded before the season or retires, potentially to replace the late Alex Trebek — a loyal Washington Football Team fan — as host of “Jeopardy!” Still, it’s a trip to the Frozen Tundra, albeit too early in the season to expect to see much snow, and it’s a great opportunity for WFT rookie long snapper Camaron Cheeseman to shine among the Cheeseheads.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 31 at Denver (4:25 p.m.)
Washington’s last trip to the Mile High City was in 2013, when Peyton Manning passed for 354 yards and four touchdowns and pals Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins combined for four interceptions in a 45-21 Broncos win. Bump this game up a beard or three if Denver trades for Rodgers this summer.
Week 9: Bye
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 14 vs. Tampa Bay (1 p.m.)
Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champs return to FedEx Field for a rematch of their most competitive game in last year’s playoffs. Assuming Taylor Heinicke doesn’t win the starting job, and with two weeks to prepare, Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner should find some room in his game plan for the backup QB to see the field after he threw for 306 yards and accounted for a pair of touchdowns in last year’s first-round loss.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21 at Carolina (1 p.m.)
Rivera heads back to Carolina a year after losing his first game against his former team at FedEx Field, and while he may attempt to downplay the significance of the matchup, emotions will be running high in Charlotte. Don’t be surprised if Riverboat Ron, whose roster and staff is already packed with former Panthers employees, attempts to bring a few stadium ushers, concession workers and parking attendants back on the team plane.
Week 12: Monday, Nov. 29 vs. Seattle (8:15 p.m.)
Despite a respectable performance at the USA Track and Field Golden Games last week, wide receiver DK Metcalf won’t be an Olympic medalist when the Seahawks come to Landover for this Monday night tilt. The road team has won six consecutive games in the series between the Washington Football Team and the other Washington’s football team, including the Seahawks’ 20-15 triumph at FedEx Field last season.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5 at Las Vegas (4:05 p.m.)
Bet on it: Allegiant Stadium will be half burgundy and gold when Washington makes its first trip to Las Vegas to play the Raiders. Sure, Maryland could join D.C. and Virginia in opening a sportsbook by the time the NFL season begins, but the rush of placing an ill-advised parlay or a prop bet on Antonio Gibson first-half touches just hits different in Sin City.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12 vs. Dallas (1 p.m.)
Washington closes the season with five consecutive games against division foes, including two apiece against the Cowboys and Eagles. Last year’s meeting with Dallas in Landover ended with Cowboys rookie quarterback and former JMU standout Ben DiNucci running for his life in a 25-3 Washington rout. The Burgundy and Gold would take a repeat of that dominating performance, only this time with a full house instead of a couple hundred friends and family in the stands.
Week 15: Saturday, Dec. 18 or Sunday, Dec. 19 at Philadelphia (time TBD)
Bad news for Washington: Quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who might as well have carried a white flag onto the field when former coach Doug Pederson substituted him for Jalen Hurts in the fourth quarter of the 2020 regular season finale, signed with the San Francisco 49ers last month. Philadelphia became Hurts’s team after the Eagles traded quarterback Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts for a pair of draft picks in March.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 26 at Dallas (8:20 p.m.)
It will be tough to top the excitement of last year’s Thanksgiving Day game in Texas, which resulted in a 41-16 Washington win. Quarterback Dak Prescott’s return from an ankle injury that cost him most of last season should add some sizzle to a rivalry that has lacked fire in recent years.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2 vs. Philadelphia (1 p.m.)
First-year Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said he played rock-paper-scissors with draft prospects to gauge their competitiveness. That seems as good a way as any for Washington’s defensive backs to decide who will be responsible for covering Heisman Trophy winner and first-round draft pick DeVonta Smith, who once played rock-paper-scissors with fellow Alabama wideout Jerry Jeudy to settle which of them would get to run a deep route.
Week 18: Sunday, Jan. 9 at N.Y. Giants (1 p.m.)
The Giants signed former Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay in free agency and drafted Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney in the first round of last month’s draft, giving Daniel Jones, who ranked 31st among qualified quarterbacks in completion percentage last season, a pair of new weapons to overthrow.
(Washington Post illustration; Mark LoMoglio/AP)
5 Ryan Fitzpatricks: at Buffalo, vs. Kansas City, vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Dallas
4: at Green Bay, at Las Vegas, vs. Philadelphia, at Dallas
3: vs. L.A. Chargers, vs. N.Y. Giants, at Carolina, vs. Seattle, at Philadelphia, at N.Y. Giants
2: vs. New Orleans, at Denver
1: at Atlanta
What to read about the Washington Commanders
Exclusive: An employee of Washington’s NFL team accused Commanders owner Daniel Snyder of asking for sex, groping her and attempting to remove her clothes, according to legal correspondence obtained by The Post. A team investigation concluded the woman was lying in an attempt to extort Snyder.
Capitol Hill: Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, announced that the committee intends to issue a subpoena to compel the testimony of Snyder.
Kevin B. Blackistone: If NFL players care about social justice, why haven’t they rebuked the Commanders’ defensive coordinator?
Penalized: The NFL fined Commanders head coach Ron Rivera $100,000 and docked the team two OTA practices in 2023 for excessive hitting during their offseason program this year, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.