- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Washington Redskins will get an early indication of how they will fare this upcoming season when they play all three of their divisional road games in the first five weeks.

For the Redskins, that was perhaps the most interesting element of the NFL schedule, which the league released yesterday. The Redskins will open at the New York Giants on Sept. 4 and have back-to-back NFC East games at Dallas on Sept. 28 and Philadelphia on Oct. 5.

New coach Jim Zorn will have his first home game Sept. 14, when New Orleans visits FedEx Field, and Zorn will return to his former home in Seattle on Nov. 23. Also, the Redskins will play at the Baltimore Ravens for the first time Dec. 7.

The Redskins will play six games against 2007 playoff teams.

The Redskins-Giants game is the first of the NFL season, and it’s on a Thursday night on NBC. Washington has three scheduled nationally televised games, including a home game against Pittsburgh on Monday, Nov. 3, and another night game against the Cowboys on Sunday, Nov. 16.

“We open with the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, and three of our first five games are against division rivals, which will be a tough task in the best division in football,” Zorn said. “I know the fans will be thrilled for our first home game at FedEx Field against the New Orleans Saints. I am very excited to hear our fans and the atmosphere in support of our team.”

Washington is the only team that will play three divisional road games in the first five weeks of the season.

“You look at when your bye week is and when you’re at home and things like that, but your schedule is your schedule,” executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato said. “You’ll know at the end of the season if you liked your schedule or if you didn’t.”

The home schedule also features a return visit from former top offensive coach Al Saunders, who now has the same role in St. Louis. The Rams come to Washington on Oct. 12.

The Redskins have a seemingly favorable midseason break after nine games with a bye during Week 10. Last season, Washington was off after only three games.

The NFC East plays the NFC West this season, which leads to a pair of games on the West Coast for the Redskins. They play at Seattle, where they lost in the playoffs last season, on Nov. 23, and close the regular season in San Francisco against the 49ers on Dec. 28.

The Seattle game will be a homecoming for the 54-year-old Zorn, who starred for the Seahawks at quarterback and was that team’s quarterbacks coach the last seven seasons before joining the Redskins.

The Redskins, who went 9-7 last season and won their last four games to reach the playoffs, will play three of its final four games on the road, including back-to-back trips to Baltimore and Cincinnati.

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