Glancing at the 2013 schedule, I decided that I’d take a shot at predicting how things might turn out. With so many variables still undecided (health, final roster, etc.) I decided to weigh all the pros and cons while considering the best- and worst-case scenarios. In the end, I tried to blend it all together into predictions that were as objective as I’m capable of.
Week 1, Eagles at Redskins (Monday Night Football)
I think Chip Kelly will be successful in the NFL and believe the early stages of this opener could be dicey. However, I think the Redskins will look sharp and efficient on offense, disciplined on defense, and dominate the second half. Robert Griffin III will look completely healthy and thrive in a game plan that more resembles Mike Shanahan’s traditional offense (but still features the pistol formation).
Redskins 31 Eagles 20 (1-0)
Week 2, Redskins at Packers
In an early-season battle of great quarterbacks, Griffin will look every bit like he belongs in a showdown with Aaron Rodgers. I see the running game keeping things close into the fourth quarter as well. But, something about Aaron Rodgers going against a still-questionable defense makes it tough for me to think the Redskins will get the big stops when they need to.
Packers 30 Redskins 24 (1-1)
Week 3, Lions at Redskins
Another game, another shoot out. The defense will once again have its hands full trying to slow down a very dynamic Lion offense that features Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush. This time I see the running game doing enough to keep Detroit off the field while the defense tightens up in the red zone to minimize damage.
Redskins 27 Lions 23 (2-1)
Week 4, Redskins at Raiders
I’m tempted to look at a west coast game and factor in some sluggishness. But, sitting here in late-July and just analyzing match ups on paper, I think this is the first comfortable win of the year for the Redskins. The defense makes a couple big plays and the offense stays safely in cruise control for much of the second half. I think Alfred Morris will lead a 200-yard team rushing effort and Griffin will hand the keys over to Kirk Cousins at some point in the fourth quarter.
Redskins 38 Raiders 14 (3-1)
Week 6, Redskins at Cowboys (Sunday Night Football)
Since becoming the coach of the Redskins, Shanahan has only won once after a bye week. The good news is that win came in his only season being paired with Griffin. The passing game will pick up where it left off this past Thanksgiving and the defense will make the Cowboys earn every yard. Both quarterbacks will eclipse 300 passing yards, but Tony Romo’s numbers will come in catch-up mode, including a late, cosmetic touchdown.
Redskins 27 Cowboys 21 (4-1)
Week 7, Bears at Redskins
I think the Bears are a very good, under the radar team in 2013 and see them coming in and handing the Redskins the first home loss of the season. Jay Cutler will get revenge for sending DeAngelo Hall to the Pro Bowl a couple years ago and the Redskins will not be able to keep up, playing from behind most of the afternoon.
Bears 24 Redskins 17 (4-2)
Week 8, Redskins at Broncos
The schedule stays tough for the Redskins as they travel to Denver to play arguably last year’s best AFC team. Given the recent issues with covering shifty slot-receivers, I have a bad feeling about how Wes Welker will look with Peyton Manning throwing him the ball. I know this is based in nothing but superstition, but Halloween week has meant nothing but ugly road losses under Shanahan (2010 Lions, 2011 Bills, and 2012 Steelers).
Broncos 34 Redskins 21 (4-3)
Week 9, Chargers at Redskins
In the only home game in a four-week span, the Redskins will treat their fans to a solid win over San Diego. The long trip east with the early start time will help the hosts in jumping out on the Chargers. A couple late turnovers will put the exclamation point on the game and close out the first half of the season on a high note.
Redskins 37 Chargers 17 (5-3)
Week 10, Redskins at Vikings (Thursday Night Football)
A quick turnaround will lead to a low-scoring and slugging game between the Skins and Vikings. On just four days of rest, I have to give this one to the home team boasting the best running back in the league.
Vikings 20 Redskins 13 (5-4)
Week 11, Redskins at Eagles
The silver lining of a short week is that it becomes a long week. With the bye coming so early (week 5), the Redskins will benefit from the extra half week of rest and hit the home stretch of the season with relatively fresh legs. Despite a now-dangerous Eagles team hitting its stride at home, I believe the Redskins find a way to control the line of scrimmage and clock to complete yet another sweep of the Eagles.
Redskins 28 Eagles 24 (6-4)
Week 12, 49ers at Redskins (Monday Night Football)
The Skins kick off a three-game home stand by hosting the defending NFC champions. In a battle of very similar quarterbacks, Griffin will take this one personally and will the Redskins to victory. I look for him to carry the ball more in this game than any other game during the year. Of course, he’ll wisely get to the sideline or slide to avoid hard contact. The Redskins’ defense will do a nice job against the read-option and stifle Colin Kaepernick. In nationally televised statement game, the Skins will prevail.
Redskins 24 49ers 16 (7-4)
Week 13, Giants at Redskins (Sunday Night Football)
Recent history suggests that the Giants usually figure out a way to beat the Redskins in their first match up of the season. Even during seasons in which the teams split their games, the Redskins tend to drop the first game and rally to win the second one. I see this being a close one, but the Skins drop their first December game of the year.
Giants 23 Redskins 21 (7-5)
Week 14, Chiefs at Redskins
This one scares me, but for the Redskins to make the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in over 20 years, they will have to find a way to beat Andy Reid and the Chiefs. The Redskins have only beaten Kansas City once…ever. Combine that with Reid’s familiarity with the Skins and I see the underdog Chiefs giving the home team all that they can handle. Kai Forbath will be the hero and put the game out of reach late.
Redskins 26 Chiefs 17 (8-5)
Week 15, Redskins at Falcons
In what I believe should have been last season’s NFC Divisional Playoff match up, the Redskin offense will take full advantage of the fast track in Atlanta. But, the pass defense will struggle to contain the Falcon passing game and the Skins will lose a shootout.
Falcons 42 Redskins 31 (8-6)
Week 16, Cowboys at Redskins
Similar to last year, the Redskins will have late division games that will make or break their season. First, they host the Cowboys who will have no margin for error and be looking up at the Skins in the NFC East standings. Unfortunately, I think the more desperate team will win here, and Dallas will finally get the best of Griffin’s Redskins. Humbug.
Cowboys 21 Redskins 20 (8-7)
Week 17, Redskins at Giants
It’s tough to tell how much will be at stake in New York right before New Year’s. I can’t see 9 wins being enough to win the East, so I’m going to project that the Giants will have the East won and be gearing up to host a wild card game the following week. Here’s the cool part, when the Redskins claw their way to the W at Giants Stadium, they will clinch the opportunity to be New York’s opponent the following week. One more interesting note, the winner of the first round matchup will be one step closer to playing in Giants Stadium AGAIN in the Super Bowl.
Redskins 23 Giants 10 (9-7)
Final Record: 9-7 Overall, 4-2 vs. NFC East, 6-6 vs. NFC, 3-1 vs. AFC
So, there you have it. I’m projecting a slight backslide record-wise, but it would be tough to disappointed with 9 wins against this schedule. I see the Redskins beating the Giants in New York in the first round and having every chance to win on the west coast (San Francisco or Seattle) in the divisional round. A win out there could potentially set up a return trip to Green Bay for the NFC Championship Game. Once a team gets that far, you never know.
What do you guys think? How do you see the season unfolding?