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Redskins 2012 NFL Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions, Info and Analysis

Shae CroninCorrespondent IApril 18, 2012

Redskins 2012 NFL Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions, Info and Analysis

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    For crazed football fans, the season never sleeps.

    Even when the season is over, there's playoffs. Once the Super Bowl concludes, it's forecasting free agency. After free agency, it's the NFL draft. And just before the draft, it's the highly anticipated release of regular-season schedules.

    With more than four months until the start of the season, analyzing the upcoming schedule is far from necessary. The hidden significance, however, is the expectation and manufactured hopes of football fans everywhere.

    The scene is no different in Washington. With Robert Griffin III likely en route, Mike Shanahan and the Redskins will look to turn heads in the coach's crucial third season of a five-year plan.

Week 1: @ New Orleans Saints (1:00pm)

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    Taking a trip to Bourbon Street isn't typically an ideal season-opener for any team, but the Redskins could get lucky this year. 

    Following the penalties handed down as a result of Bounty Gate, the Saints are in their fair share of turmoil. Head coach Sean Payton is suspended for the season, current players fear the wrath of Roger Goodell and All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees still doesn't have his new deal. Needless to say, things could be better in New Orleans. 

    That said, it's no easy walk for the Redskins either. All road games in the NFL are tough ones, and playing in the dome is no exception. Not to mention, how far along is Robert Griffin III at Week 1 of the season? Is he even starting?

    Given familiarity and home field advantage, I give the edge to the Saints. 

    Prediction: Loss

Week 2: @ St. Louis Rams (4:05pm)

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    The Redskins continue their road trip in Week 2 with a visit to St. Louis. Although I won't encourage starting the season with two straight road games, I believe it could be very beneficial for the Redskins' young quarterback. 

    Despite huge steps in the direction of improvement, I still don't believe the Rams to be a legitimate threat. I like Jeff Fisher as head coach, Sam Bradford as quarterback and Steven Jackson in the backfield, but the Rams are far from scary. 

    After defeating the Rams in St. Louis last season with Rex Grossman at the helm, the Redskins are capable of handling business this year. 

    Prediction: Win

Week 3: Cincinnati Bengals (1:00pm)

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    After loading up in the draft last season, the Bengals are a young and upcoming team. With an intelligent quarterback like Andy Dalton and a dominate playmaker like A.J. Green, the Cardiac Cats are scarier now than the days of Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson. 

    Given that it's the Redskins' home-opener, all can expect FedEx Field to be on the brink of explosion. Not only are Redskins fans a naturally passionate bunch, but having to wait three weeks for the first home game is a test of patience. 

    With the stadium rockin' and two games under RG3's belt, the Redskins get away with a close one.

    Prediction: Win

Week 4: @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4:15pm)

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    Over the past several years, it seems as if the Tampa Buccaneers are the Redskins' most annoying opponent. More so than the frequency, playing the Bucs always seems to give fans some sort of itch. 

    The Bucs are under the new leadership of head coach Greg Schiano and the offense is completely revamped with guys like Carl Nicks, Vincent Jackson and perhaps Trent Richardson (draft). 

    Three road games in four weeks isn't exactly a league favor for the Redskins, but it should also be noted that this is the Redskins first late game in eastern time—making it their first truly late game, and on the road no less. 

    In terms of talent, the Redskins are better. In terms of coaching, the Redskins are better. In terms of scenario, the Bucs have the upper hand. Tampa Bay steals one. 

    Prediction: Loss

Week 5: Atlanta Falcons (1:00pm)

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    Most have grown cold of Falcons' quarterback Matt Ryan following his inability to turn it up in the playoffs, but that takes nothing away from him during the regular season. 

    In addition to one of the league's best quarterbacks, the Falcons also tote one of the most dangerous receiver tandems in the NFL with Roddy White on one side and Julio Jones on the other. 

    It's nice to have this matchup at home in Washington, but who in the world is guarding White or Jones? DeAngelo Hall?

    Prediction: Loss

Week 6: Minnesota Vikings (4:15pm)

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    For the second consecutive season, the Redskins draw the Vikings at home. Despite blowing his ACL last season at FedEx field, Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson is expected to return with a vengeance.

    With or without Peterson, the Vikings don't appear to be the superior team. Barring some miraculous sophomore blowup, Christian Ponder is still a developing quarterback and the Redskins defense has enough to contain the Minnesota offense. 

    Prediction: Win

Week 7: @ New York Giants (1:00pm)

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    Although wins are wins, sweeping the Super Bowl Champions included a little bit of luck for the Redskins last season. Sure, division rivalries are always tough, but the Redskins played their best ball and had most things go their way. 

    Predicting a sweep of the defending Super Bowl Champions this season is a reach--especially in New York with a rookie quarterback under center. 

    The Giants take this one, as they should. But analysts talk about this game as a "tremendous learning experience" for Robert Griffin III. Or something like that. 

    Prediction: Loss

Week 8: @ Pittsburgh Steelers (1:00pm)

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    In their fifth road game of the first eight weeks, the Redskins' travel schedule doesn't get any easier with a tough trip to the Steel City. 

    Love 'em or hate 'em, the Steelers are a gnarly matchup for any team. Regardless of their offseason moves, expect Pittsburgh to bring it on defense and pound it on offense. 

    The Redskins appear tired this early on in the season, and for good reason. 

    Prediction: Loss

Week 9: Carolina Panthers (1:00pm)

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    Just one season removed from the first-overall pick in the draft, the Carolina Panthers are a team considered to be on the rise. For the Redskins, this game is intriguing for two reasons. 

    1.) The Redskins have an opportunity for payback at home this season after losing one to the Panthers in Carolina last year. 

    2.) The athletically-gifted Cam Newton goes against the athletically-gifted Robert Griffin III. This game could very well include the two best dual-threat quarterbacks of the decade. 

    Revenge game for the Redskins and the team is happy to be home. 

    Prediction: Win

Week 10: BYE Week

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    By far the best part of the schedule so far, the Redskins benefit from the mid-season bye week. 

    At this point, the Redskins have the opportunity to re-focus and prepare themselves for the next seven games--five of which are division foes. 

    The only way this late bye week backfires on the Griffin and the Redskins is if the team suffers nagging injuries early in the season. But with a full offseason ahead, it feels better to make excuses as fans and assume no injuries. 

Week 11: Philadelphia Eagles (1:00pm)

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    Good news: the Redskins aren't forced to face Philly fans until Week 11. 

    Bad news: the Redskins are forced to face Philly in Week 11. 

    Michael Vick earned a contract by running all over the Redskins on a Monday night, so stopping and/or containing him should be the Redskins' first priority. That is--of course--if Vick is still playing at this point (injury). 

    Although coming off the bye week is meant to be a positive scheduling position in the NFL, the Redskins aren't the best at following suit. They make this one a nail-biter until a late-game field goal. 

    Prediction: Win 

Week 12: @ Dallas Cowboys (4:15pm)

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    Finally, a game for Redskins fans to get pumped for! 

    On Thanksgiving Day--just before dinner hits the table--the Redskins and Cowboys square off in the House that Jerry Built. Just the way Thanksgiving should be. 

    New quarterback Robert Griffin III has come into his own as a professional at this point during the season and he loves performing in the spotlight. Despite team records saying otherwise, the Redskins get the best of the Cowboys on national television. 

    Prediction: Win

Week 13: New York Giants (8:30pm)

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    The Redskins are given one primetime game all season and it's late enough in the season for fans to get excited. 

    Following a national stage holiday game, the Redskins take full advantage of the long rest period between games and invite the New York Giants to Landover on a Monday night. 

    Like any other spotlight game at FedEx Field, the crowd will be immense and the noise will be unbearable. The situation, the stage and the desperate need for a win this late in the season bodes well for the Redskins. 

    Prediction: Win

Week 14: Baltimore Ravens (1:00pm)

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    The long-awaited regular season matchup rolls through again, this year late in the season at FedEx Field between crosstown foes that really aren't rivals at all. 

    Although the hype is unnecessary and the game means nothing outside of the DMV, the game is like a turf war in the region and it's always a fun way to gain bragging rights. 

    And you know what else? The Redskins are lucky enough to face one of the league's self-proclaimed best quarterbacks.

    Prediction: Loss

Week 15: @ Cleveland Browns (1:00pm)

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    After apparently stealing all of Cleveland's strategically planned moves this offseason, the Redskins can expect some serious fire from the Cleveland Browns this late in the season. 

    Regardless of their draft picks later this month, the Browns aren't expected to be contending for a playoff spot in mid-December. But that doesn't mean they won't want to make things harder on Washington. 

    The Browns give a valiant effort, but the Redskins' offense proves to be too much in the final minutes.

    Prediction: Win

Week 16: @ Philadelphia Eagles (1:00pm)

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    The big question when discussing a late-season game with the Eagles is predicting whether or not Michael Vick is healthy enough to play. If he is, the Redskins are in trouble on the road. If he isn't, the Redskins have a chance--even on the road. 

    Going out on a limb and guessing a healthy season for Vick--he and McCoy display too much fire-power on a good day in Philly. 

    Prediction: Loss

Week 17: Dallas Cowboys (1:00pm)

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    To close out the football season and bring-in the new year, Redskins fans couldn't ask for much more. 

    After beating Dallas on the national stage earlier in the season, the Redskins realize their destination and turn it on against the Cowgirls at FedEx. In fact, this one isn't even close. 

    Bring out the brooms!

    Prediction: Win (big)

At the End of the Season

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    Despite entering the bye week with a losing record, Griffin and the Redskins rally in the second-half of the season and play their hardest ball against division rivals--closing the season with wildcard possibilities. 

    With a final record of 9-7, the Redskins miss the playoffs by a game (thanks a lot, Tampa). 

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