Mike Shanahan stands watch over his squad.
Coming off a division championship season, the Washington Redskins did not have a whole lot to fix in the offseason.
When the 2013 NFL schedule was released on Thursday night, it painted a pretty good picture of what the next season will be for Washington—hard.
According to NFL.com, the Redskins are 18th overall in terms of strength of schedule. But when you look at the teams they have to play, it doesn’t seem so easy. They will travel to Lambeau to take on the powerhouse Green Bay Packers as well as take a trip to Mile High to face the stout defense and potent offense of the Denver Broncos.
While the schedule certainly has winnable games, it looks like it will be a tough road to repeat for Washington in 2013.
In Robert Griffin III’s second season, he will look to improve on an impressive rookie campaign, but he will be coming off ACL surgery and no one is quite sure what to expect.
One thing is for sure: Winning the NFC East crown for the second year in a row will be no easy feat.
RG3 eyes the Eagles defense.
The Philadelphia Eagles were the saddest team in the NFC East in 2012, but that may change in 2013.
New head coach Chip Kelly is changing the culture of this team, and I believe that he will improve them—just not right away.
When looking at their quarterback situation, it is unclear who will start for Philly on opening day. Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Dennis Dixon have all been named as contenders for the job, but it looks like it’s Vick’s job to lose—for now, that is.
Expect the Eagles to stumble out of the gate but to improve as the season goes on.
A healthy RG3 and a revitalized defense behind Brian Orakpo will be too much for Kelly and company.
While Philly will be tougher to beat than they were last season, I don’t see them winning their first game under Kelly's tutelage.
The Redskins O-line versus the Raiders D-line.
For the past few years, the Oakland Raiders have shown more and more progress toward being a playoff team but being a part of the competitive AFC West hurts their chances.
They will have a new quarterback in Matt Flynn, but the jury is still out on the former Packer and Seahawk. One big game against the Detroit Lions two seasons ago has been the measuring stick for Flynn, but one game is not enough to determine the worth of a quarterback.
Plus, the Raiders lost two of their top offensive weapons form last year in Darrius Heyward-Bey and Brandon Myers. Expect Oakland’s offense to sputter without much firepower outside of Darren McFadden.
The Redskins should have an easy game against a team that has been in the bottom of the AFC West barrel for years.
DeAngelo Hall rips a pass away from Calvin Johnson.
In all likelihood, the Lions will improve from an abysmal 4-12 season last year, but that doesn’t mean they are in for an easy year.
The Redskins have lost their last two games against Detroit, but that was before RG3 and Alfred Morris showed up.
Between the departure of star DE Cliff Avril and a fledgling Lions secondary, the Redskins should be able to assert their offense.
A game at home against the Lions will be just what the doctor ordered for Washington after a tough road game against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Washington will cruise to another victory against a team that has had their number for the past few years.
Alfred Morris powers through a tackler.
Although the Redskins swept the Dallas Cowboys in 2012, you never know what to expect with these two teams. This is one of the premiere rivalries in all of sports.
The main reason why this game should be an easier one for the Skins is because the Cowboys have barely done anything since season’s end.
They lost key defender Victor Butler and changed defensive schemes despite having the wrong personnel for a 4-3 defense.
The outcome of this game will depend on Tony Romo. Will we see the 400-yard, three-touchdown Romo? Or the 220-yard, three-interception one? Romo threw two picks in the season finale against the Skins, which sealed the Cowboys' fate.
There are still questions as to whether or not RG3 will be prepared for the start of the season, but by the time Washington takes on Dallas in Week 6, he should be fully healed and ready to continue the success he had in his first year.
RG3 ran all over the Vikings defense in 2012.
When the Redskins took the field against the Minnesota Vikings last seasons, it was expected to be a tough game given the play of the Vikings defense early in the season.
Well, it wasn’t a blowout, but it wasn’t close.
The Redskins defeated Minnesota with relative ease, as RG3 had one of his best games of his young career. The former Heisman winner had a combined 320 yards and three touchdowns against the Vikes last season and is likely to have a repeat performance in 2013.
Minnesota has no quality quarterbacks on the roster and can’t hand the ball to Adrian Peterson on every play. Another easy Washington victory.
RG3 and Romo congratulate each other on a well-played game.
Let’s keep this short—Washington will sweep Dallas for the second year in a row.
Although no one knows what the NFL draft will hold for both teams, there is not much of a difference between last year’s roster and this year’s roster for the Redskins or the Cowboys.
It will be a competitive game; however, the Redskins are just the better team right now.
Barring any serious injuries (knock on wood), Washington should win its fourth straight against Dallas.
The Redskins celebrate a crucial touchdown.
Despite having some disappointing finishes the past few seasons, the San Diego Chargers should be a team to watch in 2013.
With a brand new system in place for Philip Rivers and the offense, it should not be a surprise if Rivers has a career year.
Although he does not have many weapons surrounding him, he is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Rivers should have a great day against a weak Redskins secondary.
Aside from their quarterback, the Bolts also have a solid defense. Although many may favor Washington in this game, don’t count out the Chargers.
With offensive guru Mike McCoy as their new head coach, the Chargers' passing game should be rejuvenated and high flying.
You’ve heard of Air Coryell? Well we might see the second coming of that: Air McCoy. This will be a tough game for Washington in the meat of its season.
Alfred Morris follows his blocker through the hole.
The Eagles will be an improved team under Kelly, especially as the season goes on.
By the time Week 11 rolls around, the Eagles will have hit their stride as a completely revamped team—most importantly on offense.
Divisional games in the NFC East are always tough for both teams, so expect much of the same in this game.
The Eagles will have had time to mesh and meld as a team in a new system and will put up a better fight in this second meeting.
Washington should be on upset alert.
RG3 breaks a tackle from Prince Amukamara.
This is another one of those anything-could-happen divisional games.
It’s always hard to measure how good or bad the New York Giants will be. Their record is normally somewhere between 7-9 and 10-6.
With the uncertainty surrounding Victor Cruz and his contract situation, the Giants could be without their most reliable target from the past two seasons. Even without Cruz, the Giants are still a solid team on both sides of the ball.
The Redskins split the series with the Giants last year, and that could happen again in 2013.
New York has bolstered its defense with key free-agent signings such as Ryan Mundy and Dan Connor and also picked up a new weapon for Manning in Brandon Myers.
This game is a complete toss-up, but it will be a gritty outing regardless of whether the Skins win or lose.
DeAngelo Hall returns an interception vs. the Bears in 2010.
The last time these two teams met, DeAngelo Hall intercepted Cutler four times in a 17-14 victory over Chicago.
The Bears had one of the best defenses in the league last year and will likely be a tough opponent for the Redskins offense.
Washington will hold its own, but a loaded Bears roster looks like it’ll be too much to handle.
Especially with Matt Forte back, Chicago’s offense should be as good as it’s been in years.
The Chiefs' offensive huddle.
The Kansas City Chiefs look like they could be the Cinderella team of 2013.
Following a miserable 2012 season, the Chiefs and newly appointed head coach Andy Reid have completely flipped the team upside down.
The Chiefs as a whole were one of the biggest oxymorons in the NFL last year; they had the worst record with some of the best players.
They boast two All-Pros in Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry and have numerous blue chippers on both sides of the ball.
They also added several big names such as Sean Smith, Dunta Robinson, Donnie Avery and Anthony Fasano to their already talented roster.
The Redskins have a good amount of talent on their team as well, but in looking at this matchup, it’s hard to choose Washington. Aside from the amount of talent on the Chiefs roster, Reid is familiar with the Redskins after spending more than a decade as the coach of their divisional rival, the Eagles.
Winning isn't out of the question, but it will be a tough home game for the Redskins.
Eli Manning leaves the field.
This second meeting between these teams could be for all the marbles.
It would not be the first time the NFC East was decided in the last week of the season. It has been that way in the past two seasons.
The pressure of taking on a gritty team like the Giants (especially on the road) will be a tough task for Washington.
Manning and the Giants seem to play better toward the end of every season, and they will be a difficult team to beat in the season finale for the Redskins.
Seconds before the hit that had Redskins fans gasping for air.
The Falcons defeated the Redskins 24-17 in Week 5 of last year after RG3 was knocked out of the game from a devastating hit by Sean Weatherspoon.
The Falcons' finesse offense and tough defense make them a nightmare for most teams. Atlanta is one of the best scoring teams in the league, and Matty Ice plays great at home (33-5 as a starter in the regular season).
It will be a competitive matchup, but Atlanta will likely best Washington.
Jim Harbaugh and London Fletcher after their 2011 matchup.
It is no secret that the San Francisco 49ers are one of the most talented teams in the league.
They have countless Pro Bowlers and are coming off of a Super Bowl appearance.
Just because this will be a tough game does not mean that victory is out of reach for the Redskins. After all, the teams have some parallels: Both have athletic quarterbacks and workhorse running backs.
Both teams have improved greatly since they last met in 2011 and will cause fireworks when they meet in 2013. This has the potential to be one of the best games of the year, but it will also be one of Washington's biggest challenges.
Aaron Rodgers eyes his receiver downfield.
Aaron Rodgers. That’s just about everything you need to know about this game.
No. 12 should have a field day against a rickety Redskins secondary.
There is no doubt that the Green Bay Packers will put up points, so RG3 and the rest of Washington’s offense will need to match them every step of the way if the Redskins hope to pull out a big win on the road.
Another thing to think about is how early in the season this game will be played. A win or loss could set the tone for the entire season.
It may seem hasty to put the weight of the whole season on one game, but look at it this way: Three of the Redskins’ first four games are against teams that went 4-12 last season, and Washington’s bye comes in Week 5.
So, the Redskins could go into their bye week 4-0 if they beat the teams they should beat and pull out a big road victory against Green Bay.
It is a long shot but certainly possible.
Peyton Manning heaves the ball downfield.
2012 reminded the world that Peyton Manning is not done winning football games.
Manning returned the Denver Broncos to AFC supremacy and led them deep into the playoffs.
While we could argue all day about who is the best quarterback in the NFL, we can all agree that Manning is definitely in the conversation.
Right now, the Broncos are the best team in the NFL for a few reasons.
The top reasons are Manning and his new toy, Wes Welker. Manning made Demetrius Thomas and Eric Decker 1,000-yard receivers last year, so imagine what he could do with a guy of Welker’s caliber. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
Besides having one of the best offenses in the league, they also have one of the best defenses. The Redskins are a good team, but the Broncos are great.
Along with having to go on the road and play in thinner air, the Redskins are outmatched across the board by the reigning AFC West champions.