The Washington Redskins made a surprise playoff run last season behind Offensive Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III. Can RGIII make it two postseason berths in a row? Here's our look at the Redskins' 2013 NFL schedule.
Washington Redskins 2013 Schedule:
Week 1: Philadelphia (Mon.)
Week 2: at Green Bay
Week 3: Detroit
Week 4: at Oakland
Week 5: BYE
Week 6: at Dallas
Week 7: Chicago
Week 8: at Denver
Week 9: San Diego
Week 10: at Minnesota (Thurs.)
Week 11: at Philadelphia
Week 12: San Francisco (Mon.)
Week 13: New York Giants
Week 14: Kansas City
Week 15: at Atlanta
Week 16: Dallas
Week 17: at New York Giants
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Out of the Gate: All eyes will be on the nation's capital the night of Sept. 9 and it's not just because Washington will open its season against division rival Philadelphia. No, the big question surrounding the Redskins' Week 1 game is who will be under center — Robert Griffin III or Kirk Cousins? If it is RGIII making his return from his most recent significant knee injury, he better be at 100 percent. Because after the Eagles it's a visit to Lambeau Field to play the Packers. The first month wraps up with a home date versus Detroit and a cross-country trip to Oakland before going on bye in Week 5. The key to Washington's first four weeks will be its quarterback play, regardless of who it is taking the snaps.
Toughest Stretch: The Redskins weren't done any favors when it comes to their swing games this season. Washington will host defending NFC champion San Francisco for "Monday Night Football" in Week 12 and go to Atlanta to play the Falcons, the team the 49ers beat to get to the Super Bowl, in Week 15. To make matters worse, the San Francisco game is preceded by back-to-back road contests in Minnesota (on a Thursday night) and Philadelphia, and then followed by a divisional tilt with the Giants. After the Redskins fly south to play the Falcons in the Georgia Dome, they come back home to host the Cowboys before finishing the season in New York against the Giants. Beginning with Week 10, Washington's final eight games includes a total of four divisional contests (two home, two away), a trip to Atlanta and a matchup at home against San Francisco. Put it all together and it equals one difficult second-half slate.
Easiest Stretch: There's a reason we ranked Washington's schedule as the sixth-toughest in the entire NFL. That's because there really are no breaks to be found. In fact, the Redskins will play back-to-back games against teams that posted losing records last season just once — Detroit in Week 3 and at Oakland in Week 4. The only other teams that Washington plays who finished below .500 in 2012 are Philadelphia (twice), Kansas City and San Diego (which just missed at 7-9). It looks like we will find out if Washington's success last season was a one-year fluke or if this team is a legitimate playoff contender.
Circle The Calendar: If RGIII is back by Week 2, his first game at Lambeau Field and the battle with Aaron Rodgers will no doubt be must-see TV. That's not the only high-profile quarterback duel on tap for the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year either, as he will make trips to Denver and Atlanta to test his prowess against the likes of Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan. There's also the tantalizing Week 12 matchup with San Francisco, which, assuming both are healthy, will feature RGIII and Colin Kaepernick, two of the league's most dynamic signal-callers, in primetime on "Monday Night Football." And that's without even mentioning the always anticipated divisional games with the Cowboys, Eagles and Giants.
Divisional Notes: Last season, two games separated the top three teams in the NFC East and there's no reason to expect that to change in 2013. If anything, the division could be even tighter with Chip Kelly's arrival in Philadelphia. The Redskins will get the first crack at the new-look Eagles, as Kelly will make his NFL coaching debut in Washington on "Monday Night Football" to open the season. The bulk of the Skins' divisional slate comes late in the season, as four of their final seven games will be against NFC East foes, including the last two (DAL, at NYG).
Playoff Push: One of the big reasons the Redskins won the NFC East last season was because they went 5-0 against divisional opponents following their Week 10 bye, with three of those victories coming in the final month. This December, Washington will play three divisional games, including two against the Giants. A road trip to Atlanta falls in the middle of this five-game stretch and Kansas City is the only opponent that had a losing record in 2012. It's hard enough to go 5-0 in December once, let alone two years in a row. But it's entirely possible that is exactly what the Redskins will need to do if they want to secure their return trip to the postseason.
Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): It may not matter who is at quarterback for the Redskins during the fantasy playoffs, provided they are able to replicate the success they had running the ball last season. Kansas City, Atlanta and Dallas were among the bottom nine fantasy defenses against RBs. This bodes well for Alfred Morris, who was second only to Adrian Peterson last season in the NFL with 1,613 rushing yards.
2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis: