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REDSKINS 2013: Breaking down the schedule, game by game

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Monday, Sept. 9

vs. Philadelphia Eagles

6:55 p.m., ESPN

Quarterback Robert Griffin III will return to game action just eight months after having surgery to revise the reconstruction of the ACL and repair the lateral collateral ligament and medial meniscus in his right knee. On the Monday night stage, he must answer questions about his health and whether he can make decisions on the field to preserve it.

Sunday, Sept. 15

at Green Bay Packers

1 p.m., Fox

This game against the defending NFC North champs could have playoff seeding implications. It should be a great opportunity for the Redskins to showcase their improved pass rush. Only four teams surrendered more sacks per pass attempt last season than Green Bay. Griffin constantly mentions Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers when describing the type of passer he wants to become.

Sunday, Sept. 22

vs. Detroit Lions

1 p.m., Fox

The Lions have never won in 21 trips to Washington. They recaptured their losing ways last season (4-12) after reaching the playoffs in 2011. The Redskins must play with the lead because their offensive line isn't suited to handle Detroit's pass rush if they get behind.

Sunday, Sept. 29

at Oakland Raiders

4:25 p.m., Fox

This is an occasion to retell stories of the long-standing feud between Mike Shanahan and the late Raiders owner Al Davis. It stemmed from a salary dispute involving Davis' decision to fire Shanahan in 1989. The Redskins should exploit a defense that can't rush the passer.

Sunday, Oct. 13

at Dallas Cowboys

8:30 p.m., NBC

The Redskins need to be 3-1 coming off the bye week if they are to assert themselves atop the division. They swept Dallas last season for the first time since 2005. The Cowboys couldn't stop the deep passing game in the first meeting and left themselves vulnerable to the run when they adjusted in the second.

Sunday, Oct. 20

vs. Chicago Bears

1 p.m., Fox

Chicago won as many games as the Redskins in 2012, but the franchises had significantly different offseasons because the Bears missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker. They replaced coach Lovie Smith with Marc Trestman.

Sunday, Oct. 27

at Denver Broncos

4:25 p.m., Fox

Shanahan's return to Denver is one of the highlights on the schedule. He probably will end up in the Hall of Fame because of what he accomplished as head coach there from 1995 to 2008 — two Super Bowl championships, three AFC West titles and a .616 winning percentage.

Sunday, Nov. 3

vs. San Diego Chargers

1 p.m., CBS

This might amount to a must-win game because of the brutal four-game stretch ahead. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is determined to reduce his turnovers after totaling 35 interceptions the past two seasons. A hungry Redskins defense will be ready to eat.

Thursday, Nov. 7

at Minnesota Vikings

8:25 p.m., NFL Network

The Redskins' second trip to the Metrodome since 1998 could have NFC wild card tiebreaker implications. Stopping RB Adrian Peterson will be the top priority, as it was in last October's 38-26 Redskins victory. Minnesota might have pulled away earlier in that game if QB Christian Ponder wasn't so inaccurate.

Sunday, Nov. 17

at Philadelphia Eagles

1 p.m., Fox

It will be interesting to see how much the Eagles have grown under coach Chip Kelly since the season opener. Will Michael Vick still be playing quarterback, or will he be hurt by then? If LeSean McCoy (below) is healthy, this will be a difficult game. Fortunately for the Redskins, they'll have the previous weekend off.

Monday, Nov. 25

vs. San Francisco 49ers

8:30 p.m., ESPN

Here's a chance to measure up against the defending conference champions on the league's biggest regular-season stage. If Griffin is healthy to this point, this game could be reminiscent of the titanic Redskins-49ers games in the late '80s and early '90s when both teams contended for the NFC title each year.

Sunday, Dec. 1

vs. New York Giants

8:30 p.m., NBC

It's ridiculous that the top two teams in the NFC East don't play each other until this late in the season. That means the healthiest team in the final month will have a great advantage in the divisional race. The Redskins believe they're tougher than the Giants, so look for them to pound the run.

Sunday, Dec. 8

vs. Kansas City Chiefs

1 p.m., CBS

What appears now to be a lull in the schedule might not be. New coach Andy Reid is familiar with the Redskins from coaching the past 14 seasons in Philadelphia. He inherited some talent on offense — RB Jamaal Charles, WR Dwayne Bowe — and traded for QB Alex Smith.

Sunday, Dec. 15

at Atlanta Falcons

1 p.m., Fox

This and the 49ers game are the Redskins' reward for finishing first in the NFC East last season. This might be Washington's toughest game on paper, if only because Atlanta has gone 34-9 at home since QB Matt Ryan joined the league in 2008.

Sunday, Dec. 22

vs. Dallas Cowboys

1 p.m., Fox

Two divisional games to end the season, and if recent history is a good indication, the title will be decided by these outcomes. How smoothly Dallas returns to a 4-3 defense this season under new coordinator Monte Kiffin will help dictate the temperature of coach Jason Garrett's seat by this point.

Sunday, Dec. 29

at New York Giants

1 p.m., Fox

Washington and New York run it back after playing just four weeks earlier. QB Eli Manning might have ended the Redskins' season on Monday night last December if it weren't for a third-down overthrow late in the game. Both games last season could have gone either way.

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