Potential Upsets and Notable Trap Games on the 2024 NFL Schedule: How the Commanders Could Shock Eagles This Season

    Following the 2024 NFL schedule release, we have identified four games this season with upset potential involving 2023 playoff teams.

    The term “trap game” can be misleading if you take it to mean a situation in which a professional football team is not ready to play. In this era of advanced scouting and elite travel accommodations, these athletes are always going to be prepared.

    With that said, there is no denying that there are spots in the NFL schedule that can make life difficult for even the best teams.

    We’ve identified four spots for upsets when it comes to teams expected to make the playoffs.

    Playoff Teams on Upset Alert This NFL Season

    Week 10: Buffalo Bills at Indianapolis Colts

    The Buffalo Bills are expected to be playing deep into January — -215 odds to make the playoffs and the favorite to be crowned the king of the AFC East — a reasonable assumption given that they’ve been a part of the postseason in each of the past five seasons.

    They are, however, not immune to poor stretches of play. This game against a talented Indianapolis Colts team could remind us of that.

    • 2023: 6-6 start (including a 1-3 record in November)
    • 2022: Consecutive losses in November prior to winning seven straight
    • 2021: 11 wins, but didn’t win consecutive games from Week 5-15
    • 2020: 3-3 stretch during a 13-3 season

    You get the idea. As good as the Bills are, they are as susceptible to struggles as any of the preseason favorites.

    This is a brutal schedule spot for a few reasons. First of all, the spot. The Bills will be coming off a high-pressure game against the rival Dolphins, with the boogeyman (Chiefs) up next and a bye after that.

    Could Buffalo give one away here? Based on the schedule alone, I think it’s possible. And that’s without taking into account the potential of the Colts on their home track.

    Anthony Richardson (+3000) is an interesting bet when it comes to MVP — he has a stable run game that features Jonathan Taylor and a potent pass game after re-signing Michael Pittman Jr. and drafting Adonai Mitchell.

    We saw the Dolphins excel last season by simply being more athletic than their opponents. And when playing at home, it wouldn’t shock me if we saw glimpses of that from the 2024 Colts.

    Week 11: Atlanta Falcons at Denver Broncos

    The Atlanta Falcons haven’t won more than seven games in a season since 2017. But expectations are high with the addition of Kirk Cousins and a brand new coaching staff (-300 to make the playoffs).

    Fantasy football managers are well aware of the firepower Atlanta has on offense, but don’t forget that the Falcons’ defense was top-10 in both yards per play allowed and EPA.

    I understand the optimism, but a trip to Denver’s altitude is the Falcons’ fourth city in four weeks. It’ll also be their 11th consecutive week of action.

    That’s no cupcake, regardless of how you value the Broncos.

    Speaking of Denver, is there any doubt Sean Payton will have this team improve with time? Bo Nix is going to be thrown to the wolves during his rookie season, and that could result in some ugly early-season performances. But Nix’s best football will likely come late in his rookie campaign as he gets reps under his belt.

    We saw the Broncos improve with time last season (five straight wins following a 1-5 start, including wins over the Chiefs and Bills). And that was without much offensive stability.

    With general hope surrounding Nix and the potential for Javonte Williams to return to full strength now that he is approaching two years since a devastating knee injury cut his second season short, this isn’t going to be an easy game for the Dirty Birds.

    Week 11: Cincinnati Bengals at Los Angeles Chargers

    Expectations in Cincinnati are high entering 2024, and they should be. The Bengals went to the Super Bowl just three seasons ago, and with Joe Burrow back, dreams of a return to the Big Game are warranted.

    That said, this Los Angeles Chargers team figures to be feisty with Jim Harbaugh looking to shorten games, which is the exact style of play an underdog typically assumes.

    By cutting loose all of their pass-catching talent and taking OT Joe Alt with the fifth pick of the draft, it’s easy to pencil in Los Angeles for plenty of low possession contests that come down to the wire.

    Do I trust Burrow more than most QBs in situations like that? Of course. But this is a tough spot. Cincinnati will be coming off of playing in Baltimore on Thursday night and could well limp into this game with an eye on its Week 12 bye.

    MORE: 2024 NFL Season and Playoff Predictor

    The Chargers are more than just an elite social team, they have some talent. With a franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert on the roster, you’re going to have a chance most of the time, something that was the case last season despite an ugly 5-12 record (eight of those losses came by a single possession).

    It seems that any Chargers game is almost certainly coming down to the final 10 minutes. And with them playing at home for the third time in four weeks against a potentially fatigued version of the Bengals, would it be crazy to think that LA could come out on top?

    Week 16: Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Commanders

    I made the case for rookie improvement with Nix earlier, and I’m coming back to that general angle again, this time with the special athlete that is Jayden Daniels.

    Washington’s QB of the future has the athletic profile of an instant difference-maker, and with nearly four months of game reps, not to mention a Week 14 bye, I expect this Commanders team to peak down the stretch.

    Cumulative Score Over the Last 3 Meetings:

    • Washington Commanders: 94
    • Philadelphia Eagles: 93

    NFC East games seem to always come down to the wire, and I don’t see that changing with this matchup. The Eagles will be playing for the 11th consecutive week and will face the co-divisional favorite Dallas Cowboys next week.

    I’m not suggesting this could be a look-ahead spot, but we have seen Philadelphia run out of gas recently, such as consecutive December losses in 2022 and a 1-5 run to end last season.

    KEEP READING: 2024 NFL Strength of Schedule Rankings

    If the Eagles are going to “get up” for a game late in the season, it certainly seems like it would be in Week 17 with the division potentially on the line rather than Week 16 against Washington.

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