Looking Ahead to Biggest Matchups on Washington Redskins' Schedule
With teams having now drudged through the draft process and begun OTAs, we revisit Washington's 16-game stretch for 2014 and attempt to label the biggest matchups of the year, regardless of proximity, division or conference.
Week 1: Sunday, September 7 at Houston
The significance of this game against the Houston Texans is twofold for the Redskins.
On one hand, it's the first game of the season—and it's never a bad thing to start the year off strong.
On the other, it would be easy for Washington to mistakenly write the Texans off as an easy Week 1 foe after they were so terrible last season.
While Houston remain in need of a solid quarterback (veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick seems to be the favorite to start the season), the team totes an intimidating group of pass-rushers on the other side of the ball.
With a rather difficult schedule this season, the Redskins will need to capitalize on games in which they carry the more talented overall roster.
Additionally, after finishing last season on an eight-game losing skid, getting a win and feeling halfway decent on a Monday morning wouldn't cause any harm in jump-starting the season.
Week 5: Monday, October 6 at Washington
The last time these two met was on January 6, 2013—otherwise known as Wild Card Weekend.
The Redskins established an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter before being outscored 24-0 over the remainder of the game, with Robert Griffin III's limp becoming more and more gruesome until finally the quarterback crumbled to the dirt.
As a result, there will be some intrigue surrounding this game. The Seattle Seahawks coming into FedEx Field this year as reigning Super Bowl champs carries some added weight, too.
With that playoff defeat still fresh in the minds of the fans, and a chance to knock off the best team in football, Week 5 shapes up to be a big one for the Redskins.
They'll enter having played two division opponents in the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants, and they'll afterwards take on the Arizona Cardinals, Tennessee Titans, Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings in what should be a critical stretch before their Week 10 bye.
Week 8: Monday, October 27 at Dallas
This matchup is the first between these two rivals, and it will be the Redskins' third division game of the year. In the NFC East, where anything seems possible, every quarter of every division game is crucial.
On top of that, the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry remains one of the best in all of football, which helps add to an already anticipated Monday night matchup.
The Redskins enter Dallas having just hosted the Titans at home the previous week, and they'll take on the Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their two games after that.
Without sounding like too much of a maniac by making predictions before June, this could be a stretch of the Redskins' season to rest up during their bye week, and string together some tough wins.
St. Louis Rams
Week 14: Sunday, December 7 at Washington
Just before rounding out the season against division opponents New York, Philadelphia and then Dallas, the Redskins host the St. Louis Rams in what could be a major boost heading into their final three.
That's not to say St. Louis won't be a good team in 2014, or that they haven't gone 2-1 against Washington over the last three years. Simply put, the Rams are coming off a 7-9 season, they are nestled in a tough division and are looking to see if they're going to keep their 2010 No. 1 overall draft pick as their quarterback.
Needless to say, things could be rocky for the Rams come Week 14 of the season.
Following up two possible losses with a win at home against the Rams before the final division stretch of the season could work wonders for the Redskins.
Week 17: Sunday, December 28 at Washington
Although it seems like ages ago, it's been only two years since the Redskins battled the Cowboys for a playoff spot in the final game of the regular season—a game that served as the highest-rated NFL regular-season prime-time broadcast on any network in 15 years, according to NBC (via The Washington Post).
It's a little too early (okay, way too early) to predict the NFL getting a perfect storm like they did in 2012 to end this season. Nevertheless, the Redskins will face a dogfight to end the year.
If they're in the playoff hunt, it's a must-win matchup. If they're not (perhaps on the verge of repeating a 3-13 season), there's heavy bragging rights at stake.