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Five games to watch during Washington's 2024 season

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) warms up prior to an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Monday Jan. 15, 2024 in Tampa, Fla. (Kevin Sabitus via AP)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) warms up prior to an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Monday Jan. 15, 2024 in Tampa, Fla. (Kevin Sabitus via AP)

The Washington Commanders' 2024 schedule is finally here. Fans can now start purchasing tickets to games they've had their eyes on for months, and social media is overrun with record predictions and discussions on which matchups will be the most important for the Burgundy & Gold to be successful in the first year of Dan Quinn's regime.

If you need some in that endeavor, we've got you covered. Here are five exciting games to watch this season.

Week 1 vs. Buccaneers

The Commanders will not open their season at home for the first time since 2019, but there's going to be plenty of juice surrounding the first game with Quinn as Washington's head coach, despite it being in another stadium.

For one, it's against a team that surprised many in 2023, as Baker Mayfield had a career year and took the Buccaneers to the playoffs and shocked the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card round. The Commanders made several moves in the draft and free agency to improve a roster that finished 4-13 in 2023, and while it certainly looks like the influx of veterans and nine draft picks makes the team better, starting the season against a playoff team will show us how much those investment paid off.

There's also a chance that No. 2 pick Jayden Daniels will make his season debut as the starter against the Buccaneers. Yes, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback is set to be the future of the franchise at some point, but none of the Commanders' brass have proclaimed him as "QB1" yet. He'll need to earn that right as they slow play his development until he's ready.

However, considering everything we've heard about Daniels so far, he should claim the job as his own sooner rather than later.

Week 3 vs. Bengals (MNF)

The Commanders have two primetime games on their schedule, and fans won't need to wait long to see them on national television.

Washington will travel to the Bengals' home stadium for the first time since 2008, but more importantly, assuming that Daniels will be the starting quarterback and Joe Burrow is healthy, it'll be a matchup between two former LSU stars and Heisman Trophy winners.

Both Burrow and Daniels started at different schools before joining the Tigers, and both set college football on fire with their performances. Burrow was by far the best passer in 2019, as he became the only player in SEC history to throw for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in a season. He set single-season NCAA records with 60 touchdown passes and ranks second in NCAA history with a 76.3 completion percentage.

Daniels' accomplishments in 2023 have been well documented by now. He was the first quarterback in FBS history with 12,000 passing yards and 3,000 rushing yards, amassing 4,946 yards and 50 total touchdowns. He ranked first among all FBS quarterbacks with 11.7 yards per pass attempt and rushed for more yards than any other quarterback in 2023.

The Washington Commanders partnered with APG Training to give their players special lessons in creating leadership and teamwork. Take a look at the top photos from the afternoon.

Week 6 vs. Ravens

Week 6 presents another measuring stick game for the Commanders, this time against one of the best teams in the AFC, and aside from the sheer rarity of the matchup -- the two teams have only met seven times in nearly 30 years -- seeing Daniels face off against Lamar Jackson should be a lot of fun.

Jackson has dramatically improved as a passer since being drafted in 2018, but he's always been one of the best rushing quarterbacks in NFL history. He's led the league three times in yards per attempt and has accumulated 5,258 yards to go with 29 touchdowns on the ground. Jackson is a unicorn, but there is hope that Daniels will be able to have some similar success at some point in his career.

Take a look from the war room to the draft stage in Detroit and the touch down in Ashburn as the Washington Commanders take Jayden Daniels with the No. 2 overall pick. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)

Week 8 vs. Bears

No. 1 pick Caleb Williams will be coming to town on Oct. 27, marking the first time he and Daniels will play each other in the NFL. Williams' 2023 performance was not as impressive, but the DMV native was still considered the best player available in this year's draft by a wide margin. It should be the start of a rivalry that will hopefully span years.

The Commanders should also be looking for payback for the last time the Bears came to town. Chicago had complete control of last year's Thursday Night Football matchup in Week 5, as DJ Moore scored three touchdowns in a 40-20 loss for the Burgundy & Gold. It was a significant turning point for the Commanders, who were bumped down below .500 and didn't recover for the rest of the season.

Both teams have gone through changes this offseason, and it should be an interesting test against a team with high expectations in 2024.

Week 11 vs. Eagles (TNF)

Division games are always important but playing them on national television adds another layer of pressure.

The Commanders played the Eagles tough in both their matchups last season, taking the 2022 NFC East champions to overtime on a last second touchdown catch by Jahan Dotson coming within seven points of repeating the feat a month later. Washington normally steps up to the challenge against the Eagles, as the last 10 games have been decided by 10 points or fewer.

Commanders fans should remember the last time Washington played the Eagles in a primetime game at Lincoln Financial Field. They broke the Eagles' undefeated start to the season behind 152 rushing yards on 49 attempts from their stable of running backs. It would send a statement to the rest of the league if they're able to repeat that feat.

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