Sept. 11 – Giants
Sept. 18 – Cardinals
Sept. 26 (Monday) – At Cowboys
Oct. 2 – At Rams
Oct. 9 – BYE
Oct. 16 – Eagles
Oct. 23 – At Panthers
Oct. 30 – At Bills (Toronto)
Nov. 6 – 49ers
Nov. 13 – At Dolphins
Nov. 20 – Cowboys
Nov. 27 – At Seahawks
Dec. 4 – Jets
Dec. 11 – Patriots
Dec. 18 – At Giants
Dec. 24 (Saturday) – Vikings
Jan. 1 – At Eagles
What is it about NFL schedules? They always look harder – much harder – when you finally see them in black and white. The Redskins’ schedule, released Tuesday, is no different. A few things that went through my mind as I scanned it:
● Outside of “BYE,” I’m not sure there’s a lock anywhere.
● By which I mean: 13 of the Redskins’ 16 games are against teams that have been to the playoffs more recently than they have (2007). The only exceptions are the Rams (2004), Bills (1999) and 49ers (2002).
● Getting some early traction will be difficult considering the first five games are against the Giants, Cardinals, Cowboys (away), Rams (away) and Eagles. The Giants have owned the Redskins of late, winning nine of the last 10 (and the last five in Washington). And we all know the Cowboys will be poised to rebound behind no-longer-interim coach Jason Garrett and a healthy Tony Romo. As for the Eagles, the last time they visited FedEx Field, the final score was something along the lines of 59-28.
That makes the Cardinals and Rams games the most winnable. So a 2-3 start might be the best Redskins fans can hope for. But I wouldn’t put too much money down on the game in St. Louis. The Redskins got manhandled in the second half there last season, and that was only the third NFL start for Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. This year he’ll be even better.
● In back-to-back weeks (Nov. 6/13), the Redskins play the team that hired Jim Harbaugh (the 49ers) and the team that flirted very publicly with Harbaugh before clumsily signing coach Tony Sparano to an extension (the Dolphins). Too bad the Niners and Dolphins don’t meet this year.
● The Redskins are playing the Bills in Toronto. How cool is that? For the record, when Mike Sellers was in the CFL, he played for Edmonton and Winnipeg, not Toronto. But guess who did play for Toronto? Joe Theismann. He spent three seasons with the Argonauts (1971-73) after getting out of Notre Dame. Don’t think we won’t be hearing about that in Week 8.
(In case you were wondering, Mike Nelms, another CFL refugee, didn’t play for Toronto, either. He started out in Hamilton, then went to Ottawa.)
● The Redskins’ last five games are even tougher than their first five. They return from a cross-country trip to Seattle – which is challenging enough – to face the Jets, Patriots, Giants (away), Vikings and Eagles (away). Talk about a bruising stretch. By the time it’s over, half the roster will be in the whirlpool … and the other half will be waiting their turn.
● After last year’s debacle against the Eagles, it’s a bit surprising ESPN wanted the Redskins on “Monday Night Football” this season. The network played it safe, though, and gave them an early game – Sept. 26 at Dallas. I say “played it safe” because no team in NFL history has scored more than 56 points in Week 3. And you can look it up. So at least we won’t have to worry about another 59-28.