The first installment of the 2012 schedule breakdown, as promised, is the Redskins. The NFL pundits came out today and said Washington has the 6th easiest schedule for 2012, but I don't see it that way. This schedule looks menacing, especially down the stretch, but it does begin with relatively winnable games. So if RG3 is able to adapt to the NFL quickly, this schedule just might work out perfectly for Washington.
This season really could go either way for the Redskins. Their defensive front 7 is up there with the best in the league, and they finally have some playmaking potential on offense, but I just can't predict success with a patchwork safety tandem and a rookie quarterback. I think the Redskins will surprise people, and they could win some games that they shouldn't, but they are another year away from competing in the NFC East.
I hope I'm wrong though, so let's look at the schedule game by game.
at New Orleans - W
The more and more I think about this game, the more I believe the Redskins are going to win it. Sure, it's against the best offense in the league in their Dome where they are virtually unbeatable. But with the ordeal that the Saints have been through this offseason, it will be so hard for them to come together, especially if the NFL starts dishing out suspensions to their defensive players. This could be the best team possible for Griffin to begin his career against, not to mention the Saints will have a very small sample size of film on RG3. Redskins 31, Saints 27
at St. Louis - L
This is a tough one for the Redskins. St. Louis has all the makings of a surprise team this year, so I think the Redskins lose this one in a tight game. It all depends on RG3, because I think the Rams have the better supporting cast, especially if they draft a premier weapon for Sam Bradford. Rams 21, Redskins 20
Cincinnati - W
As much as I hate to say it, I'm expecting a Sophomore slump from Andy Dalton. He had a great year last year, he has a great work ethic, yet I still can't seem to figure out how exactly he was able to put together the season he had last year. AJ Green will get back to dominating opposing cornerbacks, and I expect him to make the Pro Bowl once again in Year 2. Still, the Redskins come away with this one on an RG3 bomb to Pierre Garcon with 50 seconds left. Redskins 24, Bengals 17
at Tampa Bay - W
Raheem Morris exacts his revenge on his former team...as the defensive backs coach? Not exactly your typical Monday headline, but I think the Redskins pull this one out. Seems like Schiano is cleaning house over in Tampa Bay, with the latest rumor involving Aqib Talib. Tampa Bay should be one of the worst teams in the league this year, and look for Helu to have a big game in this one. Redskins 27, Buccaneers 13
Atlanta - L
As boring as Atlanta is, they just don't lose to teams like Washington. This one could be close, especially if RG3 is feeling it, but the Falcons will come away with the victory, some way or another. Helu will put up a pedestrian 62 yards on 22 carries, and Redskins fans will wonder why we didn't resign Tim Hightower (assuming we don't).
Minnesota - W
The Redskins could very easily be 5-1 or 1-5 at this point in the season, so I have them sitting pretty at 4-2. The Vikings are similar to the Redskins, but the Redskins are simply better in every unit, excluding running back. Look for the front seven to bottle up Peterson, and I fully expect RG3 to explode in this one, after seeing what team's were doing to Minnesota's Cover 2 last year. This could be the Heisman Trophy winner's coming out party. Redskins 38, Vikings 24
at NY Giants - L
The Redskins went 2-0 against the Super Bowl champs last year, but it will be tough to continue that success again this year. Eli Manning proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is an elite quarterback, and the Giants will be the favorite to win the NFC East in 2012. However, the Redskins could steal one from them at home, building on 2011's success. Giants 24, Redskins 20
at Pittsburgh - L
Two losses in a row for the Redskins, and they are back at .500. Just to be clear, this game isn't an automatic loss, as I don't think Pittsburgh is nearly as good as they were a few years ago. But it will be very tough for Robert Griffin to go into Heinz Field and get the victory. He could, but odds and history say he won't. Steelers 17, Redskins 16
Carolina - W
This is the game I am most excited for on the Redskins schedule. Cam Newton vs. RG3 in a rematch from last year, and I expect both teams to be right in the thick of their divisional races. The Skins are still steaming from last year's performance, when Cam Newton ran and passed all over them in a near-perfect game. What was billed as a quarterback battle turns into a runningback's field day, as Helu goes over 200 yards for the first time in his career. Redskins 31, Panthers 28
This is perfect timing for the Redskins bye week. They are now 5-4, and they are about to dive into a brutal 7 game run to end the season. Everyone will be well-rested for the Philadelphia game, which turns into a must-win for both teams. No matter how poorly or well the Redskins are playing at this point in the season, they will control their playoff destiny from here on out, with five games against divisional foes. That's really all you can ask for.
Philadelphia - L
A tough loss for the Redskins, but they just don't have the speed to match up in the secondary, especially at safety. They are also matched up against a very good defense, who I think will be the 2nd best in the league in 2012, just behind the 49ers. Eagles 31, Redskins 14
at Dallas - W
A Thanksgiving day battle at Dallas. There's really nothing better for fans of both teams. Rivalry renewed this year, as this game will actually have implications. I think RG3 gets immersed in the rivalry and the spotlight and has a career day, posting season highs in passing yards and touchdowns. He will throw two long touchdown passes, a la Mark Brunell to Santana Moss in 2005. Redskins 38, Cowboys 28
NY Giants - W
Another primetime game, another primetime performance from RG3. This one, however, earns him the nickname Professor Primetime. The home crowd will really get behind RG3 in this one, as they will finally see the playoffs as a real possibility, but the schedule only gets tougher. Redskins 28, Giants 13
Baltimore - L
Whatever momentum the Redskins had is crushed against Baltimore, as Flacco puts together one of the better games of the season from a quarterback. The Redskins have no answer for Baltimore's Run-n-Gun offense, and they are embarrased in the comfort of FedEx. Baltimore, at this point in the season, looks poised for a Super Bowl run. Ravens 31, Redskins 10
at Cleveland - W
The Redskins get back on track against an inferior Cleveland team, but not until Cleveland's last second field goal goes clanking off the left upright. This has truly been an up-and-down year for the Redskins, and fans begin to wonder whether this is, in fact, a sign of destiny. Redskins 14, Browns 13
at Philadelphia - L
Controlling their own destiny, the Redskins fail to capitalize on a Desean Jackson muffed punt early in the 4th quarter. The Eagles score on the ensuing possession, and the game sealed after an RG3 interception just two plays later. The Eagles had the Redskins' number this year, but there is still hope for a wild card spot with a win against Dallas and some help. Eagles 35, Redskins 20
Dallas - L
In one of the better Cowboys/Redskins games in recent memory, Romo and RG3 battle it out for a chance at the playoffs. The team that wins would still need some help getting in, but the team that loses is out altogether. Romo leads a game-winning drive in the waning minutes (Weird, right?), and the Cowboys come out on top. Will they get into the playoffs? Cowboys 31, Redskins 27
Redskins Final Record 2012: 8-8
Overall, a good season for the Redskins, better than expected. They will be in control of their own destiny heading into that brutal run after the bye week, but if they get hot and start winning games they shouldn't, they could easily sneak into the playoffs. I'm exicted to see where the Redskins end up.